Rural challenges

Rural challenges

by Marie Williams-Gagnon, Hayter Publications Inc., Sept 2019

Spending a few hours involved in a municipal economic development strategy session this past week proved both enlightening and frightening, as would be the case in any rural community across Canada.

It’s no secret that rural communities face their own advantages, along with their own unique challenges. The reasons rural communities both suffer and thrive  have changed over the years, as have their demographics. 

In 1851, nearly nine in 10 Canadians lived in rural areas. The early census’ of this nation contained questions about the number of acres of land attached to a dwelling, the number and type of animals owned as well as the horsepower of equipment used on the property. During that time period, the Canadian economy was based on the primary sector more than today, led by agriculture and natural resources like wood or coal.

The proportion of those living in rural areas has steadily declined, eventually falling below 50 per cent between 1921 and 1931, due mainly to shifts within the Canadian economy.

Between 2006 and 2011, Canada’s rural population did increase by 1.1 per cent, compared to the nation’s overall growth rate of 5.9 per cent. However, in the same period, the rural proportion of the population declined. Ontario is one of four provinces that have the proportion of their population living in rural regions near to or lower than the national average. In fact, Ontario sits second lowest at 14.1 per cent. In a nutshell, today fewer than one in five live in a rural area.

The 2019 demographics indicate that rural communities overall are still facing a declining population, although many from cities are heading out of the urban centres for more reasonable housing prices. While the shift in search of housing is welcome news, it also comes with its own challenges as urbanites learn to cope without round-the-clock store openings, the anonymity of city living, internet options and, at times, even the scents of rural life.

Some opt to simply use their rural homes as residences, putting any involvement within their new communities on the back burner. They have continued to shop, dine and seek entertainment in the cities, places  that they commute to everyday for work, instead of seeing what their local communities have to offer. 

As many who live in rural areas are aware, there is a lot to offer and many opportunities beyond the farm life although agriculture may have the main economic impact, often followed by motor vehicle parts manufacturing and construction. 

While rural Ontario is not attracting the major immigrant population that cities are, it is changing in other ways. No longer are children automatically expected to take over the family farms. As a result, some have opted to sell to neighbours who have often severed the rural homes off and amalgamated the land to create larger farm parcels. 

Businesses, which no longer need a storefront thanks to the internet, are growing in rural areas but empty storefronts create unease among potential residents. The challenges small rural businesses face are multiple, ranging from attracting customers who are apt to drive to the city for perceived deals to simply getting the financing to even open their doors. Community businesses, which can be ignored by both newcomers and long-time residents, inevitably remain a target for fundraisers of all types which ultimately cuts into profits.

Rural municipal governments face their own challenges with the need to attract and retain both residents and businesses, to find funding for downloaded services while handling both application bottlenecks and increased regulations for everything from wastewater treatment to building permits. These communities face hurdles attracting and retaining health care professionals and keeping the doors of schools, arenas and churches open. 

On the horizon are even more challenges as baby boomers become retired seniors, needing support and housing. Without suitable housing to accommodate an aging population, rural communities may lose even more residents. That is something that census figures are already demonstrating with the number of seniors living in rural Canada being lower (15 per cent) than those living in small and medium centres. Rural Canada is also unique with a small proportion of young adults aged 15 to 29. In 2011, 17 per cent of people living in rural areas were aged 15 to 29, a proportion lower than the national average of 20. Many leave their rural homes in search of higher education and employment, never to return.

There are no magic answers. What must happen closest to home is getting involved in rural communities, buying local and supporting the businesses that in turn support local events and teams. The success or failure of the local economy hinges on the support of the community.

“A successful economic development strategy must focus on improving the skills of the area’s workforce, reducing the cost of doing business and making available the resources business needs to compete and thrive in today’s global economy.” –Rod Blagojevich

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Marie Williams-Gagnon, Hayter Publications

Who We Are

Mission:  to promote, encourage and foster the study of local history and genealogy including original research.

The Historical Society primarily focuses on local history within the bounds of the current Municipality of Southwest Middlesex, located in the south-west tip of Middlesex County.

The area includes:

  • Village of Glencoe
  • Ekfrid Township [Former]
  • Mosa Township [Former]
  • Appin
  • Newbury
  • Melbourne
  • Middlemiss
  • Wardsville

Local Expertise:  Many of our members are experts in regional history:

  • land registry records for West Middlesex 1790-1973
  • regional settlement in the 1800’s
  • life and culture throughout the past 200 years
  • involvement in WW1 and WW2
  • history of local families
  • significant buildings and structures
  • local agriculture
  • building design and methods, and
  • textiles, sewing, quilting.

Objectives:  The Glencoe & District Historical Society is an incorporated non-profit volunteer organization. It is a member of the Ontario Historical Society and the Ontario Genealogical Society. Our objectives are:

  • To promote, encourage and foster the study of local history and genealogy including original research.
  • To collect and preserve information, including books, manuscripts, typescripts, charts, maps, photographs, photostats, microfilms, tapes and related material for such historical study.
  • To reproduce some of the talks presented to the Society, as well as other research and materials, particularly relating to the region and to sell such reproductions.
  • To encourage, support and solicit research information on heritage buildings in our District as well as lend our support to other community groups who are active and interested in the preservation and restoration of heritage buildings.

The founding president Reverend George Hamilton held a strong passion regarding the preservation of local history and believed in the importance of sharing knowledge and engaging people with an organization that would provide an environment focused on encouraging these interests.  The Society was formed in April 1978.

Glencoe historians pay homage to Gough Cemetery

by Marie Williams-Gagnon, Hayter Publications Inc.  

Seated in the shade of an old pine tree, a group of over 40 gathered to honour those interred at the Gough Cemetery on Sunday afternoon, July 28, 2019. The community memorial service, an annual event held at a different cemetery each year, was hosted by the Glencoe & District Historical Society.

The Gough Cemetery is located at 5018 Scotchmere Dr. in Adelaide-Metcalfe.After Society president Ken Beecroft welcomed guests and area historian Ken Willis offered a dedication and prayer, historian Harold Carruthers provided some background on the Cemetery itself which is on the property settled by the John and Eliza  (Kellestine) MacGoughr (later Gough) family in 1845.

The couple had a large family of 13 but their son Nelson died in 1849. His was likely to be the first burial at the site, followed by those of his sisters Hannah in 1855 and Elizabeth in 1865. Since that time, the predominant family names of those interred on the tiny property are Ash, Boyd, Gough, Hetherington, Moore, Olde, Towers, Williams and Yager. Society member Marilyn (Gough) McCallum provided a detailed history of the “MacGoughr” family that voyaged to Canada from Ireland in 1831.

The family was among the earliest settlers of township in the early 1830s with Metcalfe itself not existing prior to 1846 when Ekfrid and Adelaide were divided. “They endured all the hardships of pioneer life having cut out of the wilderness homes for themselves on land given to them by the Crown.” McCallum detailed the life of settlers John and Eliza MacGoughr who received title on the property.

Sometime in the 1850s, the “Mac” and the “r” were dropped from their name. She shared details about family members, including those buried at that particular cemetery. She recalled visiting the cemetery as a child. “We would tread softly, touch the stones, speak the names…of those who came before.”

Lorne Munro added some information about the Kellestine family before the service closed. The property was sold to Charles Towers in 1909. The Cemetery is personally maintained by Heather and Charlie Towers who were recognized for their efforts and the new fence they constructed at the front of the property. They took over the responsibility from Reta and Alex Johnson and Vern and Shirley Towers who had maintained it over the years. 

Staying out of the heat while gathered in the shade, Glencoe historians and family members joined together at the Gough Cemetery in Adelaide-Metcalfe for a service of remembrance. The Glencoe and District Historical Society holds services at a different community cemetery each year. Photo by Marie Williams-Gagnon, Hayter Publications



Imperial Order of the Daughters

The National Chapter of IODE will be 120 years old, having been founded in 1900. Historically known as Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire, now simply known as IODE, it is a national women’s charitable organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for individuals through education support, community service and citizenship programs.

The Provincial Chapter of Ontario IODE was established in 1920 and will celebrate its 100th Anniversary. As a special project for the centennial of IODE Ontario, they are updating the IODE Ontario Members database and are currently trying to locate records of IODE across Ontario.  
 
Archivist Helen Danby has been in contact with many museums and archives, both online and in person and has recorded materials that she has found. Now she would like to appeal to the public for any IODE scrapbooks, minutes or members lists that are valuable for this research.  Perhaps your mother, grandmother or other relatives may have left some IODE information in her personal storage which Helen would appreciate you sharing them with her for this special project.  Any IODE related materials will be returned or, if desired, archived in a facility close to the Chapter’s town or city. 
 
Please contact Helen Danby, Provincial Archivist at
IODE Ontario
45 Frid Street, Suite 9
Hamilton, ON    L8P 4M3
(905)-522-9537
www.iodeontario.ca
Follow them on Facebook

Grand Opening of The Archives

Certainly the major event of our spring schedule was to host our official opening at 178 McKellar Street, the new “Archives”, on a bright and sunny May 15th. Much planning and preparation went into making this wonderful day a success. The extended hours of 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. planned for our event enabled visitors to come and go as their time allowed. The ribbon cutting at 11 o’clock was attended by SWM Municipal Council, our G & DHS Executive and about another fifty-five or so people. This gathering also was present for the re-dedication of the Rotary Memorial at the front of the Archive building, and for the awarding of lifetime memberships to long serving members Ina Nelms and Louise Campbell. Congratulations to them.

Throughout the day guests and visitors were encouraged to sign the guest book and enter the draw for prizes. Visitors also toured the building and displays, chatted with volunteers and members and enjoyed the refreshments provided. In the early evening, we were pleased to have historical author Guy St. Denis talk about his fascinating new book “The True Face of Sir Isaac Brock“. 

Much appreciation goes out to those who made this day possible and to the approximately 180 people who came through our doors. We were pleased to have the opportunity to share “who we are and what we’re about” with our community.

Harold’s Photos of Glencoe

Harold’s Photos of Glencoe

On Wednesday evening April 17, 2019, the Glencoe & District Historical Society hosted the Annual Meeting at the new ARCHIVE facilities. President Lorne Munro welcomed those attending and introduced the guest speaker, our own historian Harold Carruthers. Fifty people attended this event, the first program to be presented at 178 McKellar Street, Glencoe.

Although President Lorne introduced Harold, no introduction was needed. Harold mentioned that the presentation is a continuation of one that he did last April 2018 at Glencoe’s Historic Train Station.

Harold showed 300 images spanning the period between the 1880’s and the 1960’s, focussing on the street scenes of Glencoe Ontario. Harold also focused on the human perspective, highlighting parades and social events. Many people, long gone, were recognized by members of the audience.

Upon conclusion of the display at 8:15 p.m., President Lorne Munro thanked Harold for his interesting narrative. A time of fellowship followed the presentation and audience members enjoyed exploring the new facility. The Annual Meeting and Election of Executive Officers led by President Lorne Monroe followed.

I Continue the Journey

Presentation by Stan Grizzle as part of Black History Month. 2 p.m. February 20, 2019 – Held at The Archives, 178 McKellar Street, Glencoe, ON

Stan Grizzle and his father both have devoted their lives to fighting racism. Stan discussed the start of the slave trade in Africa at the end of the European middle ages and the era of Portuguese exploration. European exploitation of the western Senegal coast continued for centuries. Slave ships and unspeakable conditions prevailed. The colonization of the West Indies and the American south grew with the economic dependency upon the slave industry.

Stan Grizzle receiving mementos from Lorne Munro and Ken Beecroft at The Archives.
L – R: Stan Grizzle, Lorne Munro, Ken Beecroft

Early Canada did not actively take part in slavery and over time became a haven for runaway slaves from the south. Pacifist religious groups such as Quakers and Mennonites, along with free slaves in the north, developed the “underground railway”, that is a network that assisted the movement and transportation north to U.S. Abolitionist communities and to Canada.

Stan talked of the three waves of struggle to get to Canada, particularly during times of conflict such as the American Revolution, The War of 1812 and of course the American Civil War.

Getting to Canada was not easy. It is difficult to imagine the hardships of the escape and the struggle to survive upon arrival. Many communities were developed in Canada by the escaped slaves and their network of supporters. Today we realize that our heritage and identity has benefitted from this cultural diversity but it was not always so. Even here in predominantly European Canada, the struggle for racial equality has been difficult.

Stan continued with the amazing story of his father, Stan Grizzle senior.
Stanley George Sinclair Grizzle was a Canadian citizenship judge, soldier, political candidate and civil rights and labour union activist. Born in 1918 in Toronto to slave descendants, he was the oldest of seven children.  Stan felt the systemic bigotry and prejudice growing up and into his youth, and vowed to make a difference wherever he could. 

While working as a railway porter as a young man, Grizzle became active in the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP). Upon his return to Canada after serving in Europe during World War II, Grizzle became more active in the union. He was elected president of his union local, and pushed the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) to open the management ranks to blacks.

Stan Grizzle Sr. plunged into other causes and was a leader in Canada’s civil rights era of the 1950s, working with the Joint Labour Committee to Combat Racial Intolerance. He worked hard. He understood the value of an education which was so difficult for a person of colour to obtain. He achieved a degree at Ryerson in Toronto. 

In 1959, Grizzle was one of the first Black Canadian candidates to run for election in Ontario politics.  Although he wasn’t elected, he caused Ontario to take notice. In 1960, Grizzle went to work for the Ontario Labour Relations Board. In 1978 he was appointed a Citizenship Judge by Prime Minister Elliott Trudeau. In recognition of his work with the BSCP and his civil rights work, Grizzle received the Order of Ontario in 1990. As further recognition, he received the Order of Canada in 1995. 

On November 1, 2007, a park on Main Street in Toronto’s east end was dedicated the “Stanley G. Grizzle Park” in a ceremony hosted by Toronto Mayor David Miller. Judge Grizzle died in November 2016 at the age of 97, six days before his 98th birthday.

conclusion and brief time for questions and answers, at 2:50 p.m., President Lorne and Ken B. thanked Stan for his presentation and presented him with an honourarium, which he graciously donated back to historical society. He was also given a Glencoe & District Historical Society medallion and pen as mementos of his visit with us.

Written by Ken Beecroft,

The Battle of Ortona

Red Noble outlined Canada’s participation in the European Offensive, and in particular the advance up the “Italian Boot”. He handed out copies of detailed maps which attendees referred to. The Battle of Ortona took place during the heart of the Italian Offensive by the Allied forces in December of 1943. Ortona is a coastal town located on the Southeast coast of Italy. December 20, 1943 was the official first day of the assault.

Fierce street-fighting during the battle would give it the nickname “Little Stalingrad”.

The Canadian Regiments advance 3000 yards into Ortona. Buildings on outskirts of town are taken and held from the veteran German defenders. Engineers move into town under artillery support. All first day objectives are achieved. The next day the 21st, bitter street fighting develops.

Ortona is an old traditional coastal town with a strategic deep water port, designed for coastal defence. It consists of compact tall multi-storied houses. Most buildings are at least four stories high with narrow streets between, which made manoeuvring for tanks extremely difficult. Armour could only advance down main roads, leaving little support for the infantry in most cases.

The German defenders prepare the way with strategic barriers and booby-traps. Fierce street-fighting during the battle would give it the nickname “Little Stalingrad”. Canadians quickly learn and adapt to the enemy’s techniques. Several adaptations involve leapfrogging and mouse-holing, that is blowing holes in walls in order to advance instead of going outside.

And so it continued for 8 long hard days and nights. The Germans finally withdrew, but at a heavy cost to Canadian Forces.

After the battle, all allied forces studied successful Canadian street fighting tactics, many of which are still used today in areas of conflict.

President Lorne Munro and Ken Beecroft thanked Red for his presentation and display of photos and newspaper articles. Marilyn McCallum presented Red with an honourarium, which he graciously donated back to G&DHS.

Members’ Meeting – Wednesday January 16, 2019 – 2:00 p.m. held at the Glencoe Historic Train Station, Glencoe, Ontario

70th Anniversary of the Melbourne Legion Branch #510

70th Anniversary of the Melbourne Legion Branch #510

Written by JoAnn Galbraith.

Melbourne, ON: On Wednesday evening October 17th, the Glencoe & District Historical Society celebrated the 70th Anniversary of the Melbourne Legion Branch #510 at their building in Melbourne. President Lorne Munro welcomed those attending and introduced the guest speaker, JoAnn Galbraith.

JoAnn announced that this year (2018), the Melbourne Legion Executive decided to update Legion records and compile photos and dialogues that Veterans and their family members have accumulated over the years. Tom Jeffrey, Wendy Robertson, Red Noble, Richard Hathaway and JoAnn Galbraith were chosen to carry out this important archival work.  For the evening.

JoAnn prepared a large display of Legion photographs and research material. She then explained the history of the first Legions which were established in 1925 after WWI.  These were special places where veterans could gather to reminisce and support one another.   Read more

McKellar Family Celebrates 180 Years

 

This story printed with permission from Marie Williams-Gagnon.

The descendants of Archibald and Nancy McKellar gathered together, Saturday, August 25, 2018 to celebrate the milestone anniversary of their arrival and settlement in Metcalfe Township. The reunion was held at A.W. Campbell Conservation Area at Alvinston. Although it was a rainy and inhospitable day, about 100 interested family attendees enjoyed food, games, contests, stories and photos, and exchanged genealogy information.

The McKellars, both natives of the parish of Kilmicheal-Glassary, Argyll, Scotland, migrated to Canada in 1831 and eventually made their way to Metcalfe Township in west Middlesex County. This was certainly a time of hardship and toil for the early pioneer family.

The original homestead farm located at Lot 24, Concession 6, was purchased and carved from the forest in 1838 and has been continuously in the family since then, handed down, inherited and purchased by direct descendants. The current owners are sixth generation, Hugh McKellar and his wife Andrea Boyd.