The year 2022 in review

April 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023

The Glencoe & District Historical Society was formed in 1978 to promote local history research. We are a registered non-profit organization, staffed by volunteers who are keenly interested in maintaining our objectives. Our objectives are:

  • To promote, encourage and foster the study of local history and genealogy, including original research. We encourage, support and solicit research information on heritage buildings in our District. We lend our support to other community groups who are active and interested in the preservation and restoration of heritage buildings.
  • To provide and maintain a local archival repository for the collection and preservation of books, manuscripts, typescripts, charts, maps, photographs, journals, Photostats, microfilms, tapes and artifacts.
  • To reproduce some of the presentations presented to the Society, as well as other research and materials.
  • To provide education through newsletters, presentations, social media and participation in local and surrounding area events. 

First, It should also be pointed out, that during the past year G & DHS did resume normal activities, as the Covid 19 pandemic was basically over. Letters were issued in August to reach out to our members, Membership renewals were encouraged, and consequently our membership was mostly restored. Several patrons provided financial donations also. Appreciation goes out those who contributed during this time. Service fees for research services were still somewhat reduced. Consequently, again during the past year, as a not for profit organization, it has been a difficult several years. Our Financial Report may detail some of this later.

This past year our Society was involved as a partner with The Municipality of Southwest Middlesex (SWM), for the manufacture and installation of identification signs in all of the active and abandoned cemeteries within SWM. Our plan called for 30 signs within SWM, and three outside of SWM, but within our area. Hykut Signs was our local manufacturer. These standardized signs outline to the public, the name of area cemeteries and when they were established. We have identified and signed the forgotten ones also, so that our pioneer ancestors will be remembered.

Another Project involving Hykut, is our Heritage Mural Project. G & DHS was successful in applying and being approved for a Grant from Middlesex County, within their “Makeover Middlesex 2022” program. This grant funding provided resources for three photographic wall murals of historic significance. These murals provide a cultural reminder to our past and act to enhance tourism and heritage interests here in SWM. Two of the murals chosen for this project were the old Glencoe Post Office and the Old Town Hall.  The other mural was of Strathburn. None of the subject buildings no longer exist.  The three murals are currently on display in Leonhard Schuko’s storefront window at 212 Main St. They will find a permanent home over the next few months.

Our Society over the past several years, including 2022-2023, has been actively involved and participated in the pursuit of the establishment of a Middlesex County Archive. Middlesex County is one of only a very few counties in southern Ontario that does not have a specific County Archive. Middlesex County has no official mechanism for the preservation, storage and archiving of historical documents and artifacts, both public and private. Middlesex County relies on area volunteer organizations, such as ours. As a volunteer Society, we have neither the resources nor the knowledge to provide the level of service, which would be adequate. To this end, we will continue to work with other colleague organizations within the County.

Our Programs for last year 2023:

April 2022– G & DHS over the past few years has participated in Middlesex Centre Archives’ “Heritage Fair” in Delaware. This is a wonderful opportunity to display who we are and network with other area history organizations. Last year, again because of Covid, this event was cancelled. Recently however, April 1st. we did again participate with our display and exhibit.

July 2023 – Tartan Days in Glencoe, over the past several decades, has been a unique opportunity for the community to celebrate its Scottish heritage and allow the people of Glencoe and area to get involved in local activities and have some fun. For us this year, we decided to host an outside fund raising “yard sale” event at the ARCHIVES. Executive members and several regular members donated items for re-sale, with proceeds going toward G & DHS general expenditures. This event allowed volunteer participants to interact and promote with the public. During this Saturday, we also had our doors open and encouraged folks to come into the Archives to check us out. We had at least 70 people visit us.

July – Each year, also in July, we like to take time to honour those who came before us by conducting Memorial Service at an area cemetery. This past year it was finally resumed at Oakland Cemetery, Mosa Township, where we enjoyed a beautiful warm Sunday afternoon with about 25 people present. We are planning this event for July 2023 for Kilmartin Cemetery in Adelaide-Metcalfe.

September – Glencoe Fair activities was resumed this past year. Because of construction in the arena, the G & DHS display table was set up at the entrance to the Ag. Hall.  This was a great opportunity to interact with the public and have books for sale, and have a visual display of photos and artifacts from the area. We are again hopeful that in 2023, we can continue.  

Another activity in September, was our display and presence at the Backus Page House Annual Farm Heritage weekend. We hope to again attempt this event in 2023.

September 28 – Our friend and colleague from across the river, Al McGregor, was our first guest speaker this season and with our Program series about WW II. Al presented his latest publication – “Salvaged from the Ruins – A Novel of 1945”. Al provided a wonderful narration for his setting of post war Europe. This was a hybrid event followed by book signing and refreshments.

October 12 – “#4 Gunnery and Bombing School” in Fingal. This was a hybrid event involving Zoom technology. A bit of a challenge with us learning as we went. Our speakers for this Program brought us three perspectives. Blair Fergusson, Paul Anderson and Andrew McGill provided our narrative about this important area WWII Commonwealth facility.

November 8, 2022 –  Our hybrid event featuring Zoom connections to those who couldn’t be with us, including our speaker Rev. Tom Wilson. Rev. Wilson who was presenting from the south of France, gave details of how chaplains served to the allied forces during World War II. He presented his book – No Guns, Just God’s Glory. A member’s meeting followed.

November 11, 2022   – Glencoe Cenotaph.  10:45 a.m.         “Lest We Forget” A wreath was placed on behalf of G &DHS and a monetary donation was made to the Legion Poppy Fund, as is our normal custom. This is planned for 2023.

November 23, 2022 – “Operation Jericho” – Presentation by our friend Red Noble, who talked about a little known and daring allied raid on a prison in Nazi held France. A member’s meeting followed, along with fellowship and refreshments.

January 18, 2023 – “Glencoe’s Japanese Interment Camp” Presented by local Historian Brian Angyal. A little known part of our local history and a dark time of prejudice during WWII in Canada.

February 14 – “From Underground Railroad to Rebel Refuge”, is area author and historian Brian “Chip” Martin’s latest publication. Southwestern Ontario was a busy place during the American Civil War. Chip brought made instances and personalities of that time to life. As usual, this presentation was followed by book signing, refreshments and fellowship.

February 18 – A “member’s only” event featuring area photographer, and our member, Andrew McGill. Andrew was pleased to display his work and discuss the nature of his work. Andrew focusses on area agricultural and historical subject genre. We look forward to future projects involving Andrew’s talents.

March 6, 2023 – A revised Memorial Service to remember those who sacrificed at the Battle of the Longwoods in 1814 was resumed this year, at 1:45 p.m. on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, at Battle Hill National Historic Site, 2945 Longwoods Rd, Southwest Middlesex. The Upper Thames Military Re-inactment Society was present, along with a number of G & DHS members and other interested individuals. In all, there were about 65 people present. O.P.P. presence on Longwood’s Road maintained traffic safety. There were about 14 memorial wreaths laid, including one from us. The usual soup and fellowship event after service was not done as was in previous years, but we’re hoping that an area organization might step forward for next year.

The Battle of The Longwoods has always been observed as being a significant local historical event that has played a strong role in the interests of the G&DHS.

March 15, 2023 – “Scot Gaelic -Past, Present and Future”, at Tait’s Community. This was a partnership event held at Tait’s School. It was presented by Trevor Aitken, noted expert in the Gaelic Language. Gaelic, of was common in our area during the settlement period. A number of people were on hand to visit the wonderful Tait School and enjoy refreshments and fellowship provided by our hosts. Again, we look forward to future partnership events with Tait’s Community.

Monthly Member’s Meetings – We were very pleased this year that our normal monthly Member Meetings and presentations, usually followed by business meetings and attended by the public and members were resumed. And because of technical achievements and volunteer advocates, our ZOOM capabilities were much improved. This year allowed us to focus upon our series of World War II events, that may have had local flavour.

In an effort to maintain the business of G & DHS and to encourage momentum and innovation during post Covid times, the frequency of Executive Meetings was again increased during the year. There were at least ten Executive Meetings conducted in 2022/ 2023 with recorded Minutes taken related to planning of G & DHS activities. Again, these were conducted about every second Tuesday of the month.

Improvements were implemented on the G & DHS Website and Facebook by a dedicated sub committee which again focussed on media planning. This still allowed us contact with members and the public.

We at G & DHS are proud of the achievements of our members as related to the promotion of history and keeping heritage alive in our community. Without the help of volunteers, any organization such as ours would not exist. Let’s all work together to support our institutions and maintain our heritage.

The ARCHIVE – G&DHS and Municipality of Southwest Middlesex have an agreement for the use of the facility at 178 McKellar Street. This has proved to be a very positive arrangement for both parties involved. There is room for G & DHS meetings, restoration workshop, a sales area, an office, stacks for books, documents and artifacts along with special collections, microfilm library, and archival space for artifacts. Key also for the move is that the precious property records again make their home in the original Registry Office, which we now call “The Vault”. 

Our wonderful facility allows us to host educational Program activities onsite, as we now have everything available –access, washrooms, seating capacity and parking. We are also pleased to say that we share our facilities with other community organizations, on a revenue neutral basis. Organizations such as local cemetery boards, such as Oakland and Eddie, and Southwest Middlesex’ “Celebrate Community Committee” have conducted their routine members’ meetings at 178 McKellar Street.

What’s on the Horizon for G & DHS in 2023 – 2024

Our April 19th Members Meeting represents G&DHS’s 45th anniversary. A wonderful achievement for our organization. This is our Annual General Meeting. AGM. Election of Officers were conducted last year, so we see no changes to the Executive Committee. A vacancy on the Executive Committee did fortunately result in a new member stepping forward to offer her talents. We welcome Ayako MacDonald to our Executive. New members are also welcomed. This year’s membership will be realigned to exist on a calendar year basis instead of a fiscal year. Therefore, membership renewals will be valid until December 31st, 2023.

Since Covid has been on the decline, we hope to move ahead with further Program ideas and initiatives that will be informative and educational for our members and the public. We plan to have at least five or six member’s meetings which may not always have a Program Presentation with it. We will be involved in several events, which have been mentioned that we normally attend or sponsor annually. Hopefully, we can again present an “Open House” event where we can invite people in, and see what we’re about. All of this, of course is reliant upon volunteer involvement. None of us get paid, and we totally rely on volunteer time, talent and resources.

We also intent to continue with our relationships with other area historical organizations, and participate and promote events of common interests. We are also pleased to be involved with Backus Page House in Elgin County. Certainly, the Wardsville Museum and Ekfrid Museum are also close partners. We also partner with initiatives presented by the Glencoe Comprehensive Library. Just recently, over the spring break, G & DHS provided a display of old school books and writing utensils for library patrons to review.

We continue to promote preservation of historic buildings in our area, to that end, G & DHS provided monetary support toward the move and restoration efforts of the Fugitive Slave Chapel in London. We will continue efforts into this year toward heritage preservation. Members of our Executive Committee are involved in establishing a Middlesex Chapter of the A.C.O. The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario. We would encourage members who may be interested in this initiative to let us know, as this is just getting started.

We continue to give a safe home to documents, photographs and artifacts of local historical significance, which have been donated to us by area residents and Society members. These items are generally catalogued and stored by our volunteers, but often are displayed, to be enjoyed by others.

We hope that our volunteer sub-committee will move forward with cataloging and inventorying. We will continue to work with standardizing our approach to the handling and storage of archival material. These activities are viewed as being an activity to be focussed on again in the coming year with the involvement of our members. This where active involvement of member volunteers are appreciated. Without folks being involved, our Society doesn’t prosper.

In closing, the 2022/ 2023 year was full of challenges, but we look forward to continuing in the coming year.

K.W. Beecroft, President, G & DHS

Dated April 19, 2023