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

The Archives Open!

Glencoe:   The Glencoe & District Historical Society has moved its archives from the old Carnegie Library building on Main Street Glencoe to the old Registry Office building, which until very recently was the home of the Glencoe Library.

Two years ago when the Historical Society started hearing rumours that a vision was taking shape for a new library, the members starting dreaming of moving their collection to the building that would be vacated, 178 McKellar Street.  

On February 16, 2018, the Society made a formal request to the Southwest Middlesex council and in early June, Council gave permission to the Society to move in.   The members were thrilled and grateful.  Not only was Southwest Middlesex gaining a modern new library but the community would gain an accessible archives just down the street.  

Glencoe & District Historical Society formed in 1978  and their growing collections could no longer be contained in the old building.  Worse, was the access problem.  Access into the building involved a difficult set of stairs; the bathroom was in the basement; precious books and collections were deteriorating without climate control; member meetings had to be held in another venue; and parking was poor.  The dear old Carnegie library just did not work anymore.Packing began in September and the move took place November 26.  On December 13, 2018, the Executive held their first meeting at the new facility.

This historical reference library houses archives from various community groups.  There is a book shop.  It has the original land registry documents and deeds.  Computers are available to the public for research.  There are special scanners, microfiche readers and photocopiers.  A meeting area that community organizations are welcome to use (donation welcome).  A reading room.  Family histories. Historical photographs.  Cemetery records.  Come visit and see for yourself.

World War I Battle Sites of France, Belgium and Germany

Notes by Ken Beecroft.  Presentation by Jim May.  Wednesday November 21, 2018 – 2:00 p.m.

The Members’ Meeting, held at Glencoe’s Historic Train Station, followed today’s Program presentation, which featured guest speaker, Jim May.  Jim spoke about Jim and Jane’s 2017 autumn trip across northern France, Belgium, Bavaria and Austria, to the battlefields and historic places, significant to Canada from the Great War. Jim pointed out that the itinerary of the tour was geographically based and not chronological to events of the First World War. Overall, the tour commenced in the Belgian city of Bruges, and ended in Salzburg, Austria.

 

The May’s travelled with a guided group of fifteen Canadians, including friend and seasoned traveler Heather Wilkinson. Their trip started in the Picardy and Flanders area of northern France. Jim talked about of summer of 1916, and the Allies “Big Push” Offensive in the Somme Valley.

What was supposed to be a quick victory over the Germans turned into a long costly campaign. The Royal Newfoundlanders especially paid dearly, along with other heavy Commonwealth losses. The tour group visited Hawthorne Ridge Cemetery #2 near Beaumont Hamel. They travelled to Hill 62 in western Belgium, near Ypres. Intense fighting in this area caused significantly heavy Canadian casualties. He talked about the Menin Gate in Ypres, commemorated in 1927, and a place of pilgrimage ever since.

Jim described the official and unofficial type of war monuments in the area. They travelled to Vimy, where he described the terrain and overall history of that April 1917 battle. Jim spoke about the design and construction of the Vimy Monument, and it’s unveiling in 1936 by Edward VIII. Jim’s presentation was accompanied by a slide show of the various sites and monuments.

 

Jim presented a treasured portrait of a family ancestor who died during the war, Pte. Ellwyne Arthur Ballantyne 4th Bn.Ellwyne was killed on the western front in 1917 and was buried at Aix-Noulette Communal Cemetery in France. Jim was particularly pleased to have had the opportunity to visit Ellwyne’s grave at that Cemetery.

Upon conclusion at 3:05 p.m., President Lorne Munro thanked Jim for his presentation and slide show, and presented him with an honourarium.

 

Stuart W. “Skip” Patterson, HMCS Prestonian, WWII

 

Excerpt from Royal Canadian Legion Yearbook:

Stuart Patterson was born 6 April 1928, in Rodney, Ontario.  He joined the Royal Canadian Navy on March 9, 1944 and was sent to Cornwallis, Nova Scotia for basic training in WWII.  He was assigned to HMCS Prestonian 18 November 1946 as part of escort group 28 out of Halifax.  At the end of the war, Stuart volunteered to serve in the Pacific.  He was is discharged 4 Jan 1946.

Stuart returned to Rodney where he farmed as well as worked for Union Gas for 30 years.  He helped found Rodney Legion Branch and he also founded Rodney Christian Mission and served as its pastor . He volunteered at the Parkwood Hospital in London, a veterans’ hospital.  Stuart and his wife Betty have 5 children.

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

“Flagship Erie” Plaque Unveiling near Lawrence Station

“Flagship Erie” Plaque Unveiling near Lawrence Station

Article written by Ken Beecroft:

Lawrence Station, ON: On Sunday September 9th at 2 p.m. there was an unveiling of a commemorative plaque at the site of the area’s most serious air disaster. Although a cold, windy and blustery day, at least 200 people were on hand for this solemn occasion.

On October 30, 1941, while on route across southwestern Ontario from Buffalo to Detroit, American Airline’s DC-3 “Flagship Erie” suddenly fell from the skies just east of the rural Elgin County hamlet of Lawrence Station, on the Southwold Township farm of Thompson and Viola Howe. In all, twenty American citizens on board perished. Local citizens along with fire, police, military, and media respondents along with many more were remembered for their efforts. Inquiries by Canadian and American officials never determined the cause of the crash. In 1941, there was a designated landing strip in nearby Mosa Township at the corner of Longwood’s Road and Old Airport Road, southwest of Glencoe, that could have provided refuge. They never made it there. This awful disaster lead to the development of flight data recording technology.

To most people passing by, this has always been another farmer’s field, as time has eroded memories. We can now acknowledge that this place holds a significant place in Southwold Township history. The plaque recognition Project is a combined venture by Greenlane Community Trust, Southwold Township History Committee, S.S. #12 Southwold School Alumni, along with many others…..Well done Southwold !!!

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.