Peter McArthur: Our Famous Canadian – 1866 – 1924

Peter McArthur: Our Famous Canadian – 1866 – 1924

Marie Williams, Glencoe: The huge crowd that packed into the Glencoe and District Historical Society Archives on February 22 proved that the “Sage of Ekfrid” is as popular today as he was over 100 years ago. In addition to 30 viewing online, over 50 turned up in person.

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The Appin Community Garden Project

By Dylan Grubb, Appin, ON

The sense of community is one of the best aspects of living in a small town. Amongst these many things that gives Appin this feeling is the community gardens. Inspired by the World War II victory gardens used to help provide produce to towns and cities in Canada, the project started early in the spring of 2023.

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Blood on the Snow – lecture about the Donnellys

Blood on the Snow – lecture about the Donnellys

Glenn’s talk on YouTube – give it a listen

Glenn Stott tells about 33 years of troubles that took place in Biddulph Township and Lucan Ontario region in Upper Canada from 1847 to 1880 and ended with the murder of five members of the Donnelly family.

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Yoshio Shimizu, a prisoner in Glencoe during WWII

Yoshio Shimuzu: “You have to remember that we had been driven from our homes by racial prejudice in British Columbia, reviled and despised by the bulk of the population, and here in the farmlands of southwestern Ontario, we were welcomed as equals and saviours by the farming population.”
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June 21 Victory Garden Launched in Appin

Wonderful event held at the Appin Park. Forty people enjoyed the new community garden, congratulating the local team who have built the raised beds, set up a watering system, and nurtured the plants. Many thanks to our elected municipal leaders for taking the time to attend.

The highlight of the evening was listening to the stories regaled by Bonnie Sitter and Shirleyan English about the farmerettes, the teenagers that harvested Ontario crops from about 1942 – 1952.

Thank you Bonnie and Shirleyann. You have documented a wonderful part of agricultural history that otherwise would have been lost.

Learn more about the Farmerettes in Ontario:

Bonnie Sitter, “Farmerettes in Ontario” in Harrowsmith. February 2021.

And here’s some links to the buzz created by the release of Onion Skins and Peach Fuzz: Memories of Ontario Farmerettes. (2019). by Shirleyan English and Bonnie Sitter

Bonnie Sitter, “Farmerettes: Get Out on the Farm” in The Rural Voice. June, 2018.

Bonnie Sitter, “Farmerettes in Ontario” in Harrowsmith. 2020.

Bonnie Sitter, “Farmerettes in Ontario” in Harrowsmith. February 2021.

Andrew McGill Members Only Portfolio Review

Local photographer and Glencoe Native, Andrew McGill hosted a Portfolio Review of his work to the core membership of the Glencoe & District Historical Society. The review took place at The Archives on February 18th, 2023.

Andrew recently moved back to the Glencoe area after living in Toronto, and New York, for over a decade. Throughout that time he has focused his lens on the farming community which he grew up in, photographing his family farm, and local community events in the region.

Andrew shared with us his 11×14″ and 8×10″ archival pigment print portfolios as well as photo books and zines he’s produced over the years. He also showed documentation from various exhibitions including his large scale public installation of 9’x9′ square banners hung at the St. Lawrence Market in downtown Toronto. Some of which have been on display at the Glencoe Curling Arena and the Glencoe Hockey Arena.

He is interested in working with the Historical Society on future projects to document our history and community.

Andrew McGill (b. 1988, Glencoe, Canada) holds a B.F.A. from The School of Image Arts, Toronto. McGill is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work is primarily photo-based. He has sharpened his own visual style through working with his peers on high profile editorial, fashion, and art photography projects in Toronto, New York, Paris, and throughout the Eastern United States. McGill has recently moved from New York City, to his hometown of Glencoe, a farming community in the heart of Southwestern Ontario, where he has begun incorporating his artistic practice into daily life, making work inspired by the local community of lifelong friends, family, and neighbours, and the pastoral landscape from which he hails.

Andrew is an American Photography Selected Winner and a Magenta Foundation Flash-Forward Emerging Photographer. A public installation of his ongoing series titled, Two Half- Hitches Could Hold the Devil Himself, was shown as part of the 2017 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, at St. Lawrence Market in Toronto. The resulting 9ft square banners have been loaned to the village of Glencoe, have been on display at the Glencoe Curling Arena, as well as, the Southwest Middlesex Hockey Arena. His work has also been shown at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto. 

Andrew is currently working on personal book and portrait projects, as well as commission and editorial work. Andrew has had his work featured in the Editorial Magazine (Montreal), Fisheye Magazine (Paris), published in photobooks by Booooooom! (Vancouver), and is a contributor to The Globe and Mail (Toronto), and Topic Magazine ( New York).

For more about Andrew and his work view his website here:

Instagram: @andrewmcgill

McGill Farm History & the Gunnery School

My name is Andrew McGill, I’m a young farmer and a photographer. I grew up on a farm 6 kilometres north of Glencoe, Ontario. In mid 1940 my great grandfather Fred McGill purchased a farm building which was to be moved from the site of the No. 4 Bombing and Gunnery School at Fingal Ontario. The building was dismantled and moved 45 kilometres north of Fingal to its final resting place on the McGill farm at Taits rd. Glencoe where it has sat to this day. My father and I think the building was then reassembled with a new roof sometime in 1941. The site of No. 4 B&G school sat on a swath of 724 acres of land that was returned to the crown for the purpose of building the training facility. One can imagine the numerous agricultural buildings on the land that would have had to be dismantled and moved in short order to make way for the multiple airplane hangers and triangle runway of the Fingal school. 

Aerial photo of the McGill farm circa 1977. The building in question can be seen directly to the left of the barn. (Photo care of McGill family Archive, 1977.)

McGill farm building moved from Fingal Bombing And Gunnery School site in 1940. (Photo: Andrew McGill. September, 2022.)
Aerial photo of the site of the Fingal Bombing and Gunnery School. (Photo: Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum.)
Route from Fingal B&G school site to the McGill farm. (Photo: Google Maps)
Interior detail of the McGill farm building which continues to house tools and horse equipment which would have been used by the late Fred McGill circa 1940’s. (Photo: Andrew McGill, 2016.)
A restored 1942 Minneapolis Moline “Waterloo” tractor stored in the building on the McGill farms site. (Photo: Andrew McGill, 2022.)
Winifred (Eddie), Fred, and Blake McGill using their 1942 Minneapolis Moline Tractor to plant sugar beets for seed to aid the allied forces war effort. (Photo care of McGill family Archive, 1942.)
Alternate angle of Winifred (Eddie), Fred, and Blake McGill using their 1942 Minneapolis Moline Tractor to plant sugar beets for seed to aid the allied forces war effort. (Photo care of McGill family Archive, 1942.)
Clare McGill and Dorothy Brown in front of the McGill homestead with the 1942 Minneapolis Moline “Waterloo” tractor. (Photo care of McGill family Archive, 1942.)
Clare, Winifred (Eddie), and Blake McGill in front of the McGill homestead to mark the moment King George VI announced enlistment of eligible men into the military in Canada. (Photo care of McGill family Archive, 1941.)


Blake McGill standing with his newly restored 1942 Minneapolis Moline tractor on the McGill farm in 1993. (Photo care of McGill family Archive, 1993.)
McGill Farm
Aerial photo of the McGill farm taken the year of its 100th anniversary in 2016. The relocated building can be seen clearly to the left of the barn. (Photo care of McGill family Archive, 2016.)
Dorothy (Knapp), Doug, and Ron McRae in Ilderton Ontario, 1955
Dorothy (Knapp), Doug, and Ron McRae in Ilderton Ontario, 1955. During WWII, as a 13 year old, my grandmother Dorothy along with her schoolmates were tasked with finding a plant called Alder Buckthorn, which because of its consistent burn time was used to create fuses for depth charges used to sink German navy vessels. It is told that Dorothy found enough of the valuable plant for her father to pay off the mortgage of their farm. (Photo care of the McRae family Archive, 1955.)

The #4 Bombing and Gunnery School

Three perspectives on the local  #4 Bombing and Gunnery School during WWII were presented at the Archives, 178 McKellar St, Glencoe October 12, 2022 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.  

Blair Ferguson, local author of Southwold Remembers: The #4 Bombing and Gunnery School brought some great artifacts. Blair is an authority on the local training facility which is located at the Fingal Wildlife Management Area. His book is filled with stories about the people who worked there.

Andrew McGill is a local photographer and farmer. Andrew presented his family’s personal connection to the Gunnery School.   

Paul Anderson, author of Eric Stirling – The Missing Son – A Recollection of His Life, (published privately) joined us from his home in New Zealand via Zoom. Young Eric Stirling joined the airforce and like so many young guys from the Commonwealth, he was trained in Canada at the #4 B&G School. He never made it home.

The young men were SO young. The movies cast actors in their 30s so we forget that WWII was the first adventure off the farm for many young soldiers. Eric was 24. Many were not even 18.

Jodie Aldred – Documenting Life on the Farm with a Camera and Drone

Jodie Aldred is a farm girl whose off-farm job is photography. Check out her Faces on Farms page and her Instagram page and another link.  Here is the Ag in the Classroom video she made for school kids with her Dad, Dug Aldred.
“I’m glad a world pandemic made people realize “YOLO” is still a trend. “You only live once.”
“So although it has taken a pandemic… I hope people including myself remind ourselves. Remind ourselves the hustle and bustle of everyday life, building a career, making money, socializing with friends… sometimes is worth pausing every once in a while. Hopefully next time you pause isn’t because a world pandemic forced you to. It’s because you truly are taking time to enjoy your family or those you care about. Because after all… you only live once. For Covid19’s gentle reminder of what matters…”

Canadian Farmer – Eric Simpson

Eric Simpson is an egg farmer on Longwoods Road who farms with his brother, Owen, his mother Vicky , wife Sarah, two boys and a couple of staff. Eric was interested in following the YouTube channels of other farmers and decided his family farm had a story to tell too.
Simpson Poultry Farms makes their own feed, so Eric’s egg farm story starts with the corn and soybeans he grows to feed his chickens. Enjoy the day with Eric.
Check out his channel
Here is baby chick day:

Fresh Air Farmer – Andrew Campbell

Search through your family photos and try to find a record of the family farm, or Mother and kids at work in the garden, or photographs of the farmstead buildings. Nothing. The older the photos, the more we are interested in what we see in the background.  People didn’t have the cameras to document their lives.  Or if they did, they documented their trips to other places, never appreciating the value of documenting their daily work.
Today, with social media our local farmers are documenting ‘ A Day on Farm’. Check out dairy farmer and key note speaker, Andrew Campbell, and his YouTube Channel. A treasure trove of information about today’s family farm.
“I’m Andrew Campbell & we’ve milked cows on our farm for a lot of years. And we’ve done it pretty much the same way since the milking machine came along. But now with new technology on dairies around the world, we’re jumping in with both feet. Follow along as we build a brand new barn with brand new equipment – all in an effort to make the cows as comfortable as possible.”
Andrew’s Website.     Andrew’s YouTube channel includes other farms he has filmed in the past.
Andrew, your community is proud of you and your family.   Thanks for sharing the life of the dairy farmer.  It will be interesting to see how long this historical record will last on the Internet.
Glencoe has changed over the decades.

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


Marie Williams-Gagnon, Hayter Publications

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.