Mass Destruction of Cultural Heritage is Unfathomable

December 4, 2023

Archivists Respond to Conflict in Israel and Gaza

The Board of Directors of the Archives Association of Ontario (AAO) is heartbroken at the violence in Israel and Gaza. We are deeply saddened by the loss of life in the region over recent months and express our immense grief for any of our members who are affected or have lost family members or friends. 

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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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The Fenians

The Feniens are Coming!

Wardsville Volunteer Infantry Company Formed as #6 Company on January 6, 1983

To find out the details, click here for a download of Ken’s Paper or read on:

After Confederation 1867, the Province of Ontario (Canada West) was under British governance. Due to fears of what would happen after the American Civil War (1861-1865), the British authorities formed volunteer militia companies in hundreds of communities across Ontario, including our own.

The British authorities were concerned about a secret society of Irish patriots who had emigrated from Ireland to the United States with the intent of ending British rule by taking Canada by force and exchanging it with Britain for Irish independence. This secret revolutionary organization was founded on St. Patrick’s Day in 1857, by James Stephens in Dublin, Ireland. It was called the Fenian Brotherhood.

It is fascinating to imagine local kitchen table discussions about the Irish “terrorists” . Only our ancestors didn’t just talk about local politics at the coffee shop. They obeyed orders, formed militias and showed up.

On 3 Jan 1863, Wardsville volunteers formed independent militia company No. 6 within the 26th Middlesex Battalion headquartered in London. It was commanded by James T. Ward.

So what happened?

In early 1866, with tensions very high and Fenian attacks were anticipated along the St. Clair River. The Wardsville company was dispatched on March 8th to the Sarnia area and the local men “went under canvass” in full readiness to meet the enemy — in March .

But the Fenians didn’t show up. Instead, the Fenians attempted to invade Canada at Campobello Island at the Maine, US / New Brunswick border. It was a complete disaster.

The British authorities relaxed, but the clever Fenians took heart and re-organized an invasion across the Niagara River. They captured the undefended town of Fort Erie and its railway and telegraph terminals. The revolutionaries arrested the Town Council, Customs and border officials before cutting outgoing telegraph lines so help could not be summoned.

The Fenians are Coming!

Presentation by Ken Willis 15 Jan 2020

No Guns, Just God’s Glory: Tom Wilson

No Guns, Just God’s Glory: Tom Wilson

Nov 8, 2022.  No Guns, Just God’s Glory

Rev. Tom Wilson joined us live from the French Riviera to tell us about the role of Allied military chaplains and the stories of those who died in the Battle of Normandy from June 6, 1944 to August 25, 1944.  

Tom told us about a the Allied Chaplains in the Battle of Normandy, including what is known about their lives before they joined the service and what is known about their deaths. Often there are conflicting stories of their heroism, and where their final resting places are.

The Revd Dr Tom Wilson has had an interest in World War Two military history since he was 12 years old. Rev. Tom Wilson is a local son, who for 12 years owned and managed the Why Not Shop in Glencoe and lived on a farm near Melbourne.  He was ordained in the Anglican Church in Canada and served as Rector of a parish in southwestern Ontario.

In 2007, he had the chance to spend a year in France, on university exchange program with his wife, Dr Dawn Cornelio. While there he led some of Canadian students on a visit to Normandy where they held a graveside memorial service for Canadian Chaplain Walter Brown. Padre Brown’s murder led Revd Wilson to explore all the Allied Chaplains killed in the Battle of Normandy. After serving in the Scottish Episcopal (Anglican) Church for 5 years, Revd Wilson now is the Anglican Chaplain of St Raphael in southern France where he ministers to a multi-national English-speaking congregation.

Thanks for telling us these fascinating stories, Tom! Let’s do it again!

Tom: “I look back with fondness on my time in Glencoe and SW Ontario. I confess though, I do like the winter here on the French Riviera, as it is normally sunny and warm during the days, but the nights are cool.”

Order his book, No Guns, Just God’s Glory at: OREPeditions

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.)

Salvaged from the Ruins: book launch Al McGregor

Al McGregor has launched his new book: Salvaged from the Ruins – A Novel of 1945. As One War Ends Another Begins.  Al’s novels serve up history with drama, great characters, and several intersecting storylines to keep things exciting. It’s hot off the press. Let’s help our local writer sell lots of copies.

Salvaged from the Ruins is a story about the end of WWII when millions of refugees flood Europe – a time when compassion is another casualty of war. The story is set against the events of 1945 in Europe, Canada and the United States.

Local author Al McGregor specializes in historical fiction. His books are based on the Canadian experience with an emphasis on Southwestern Ontario.

G&DHS was happy that their first ‘hybrid event’ went off without a hitch Wednesday, September 28th at the Archives in Glencoe.  Al also signed books at Glencoe Fair a few days prior.  

Here is a link to Al sharing his personal story as part of the Senior’s Life in the Talbot Settlement Series: Al McGregor

Conflict doesn’t end with surrender. The evidence is in the Ruins.

Al McGregor's Website:
Al McGregor tells his audience about the historical backstory to his new novel.
Al McGregor's Oral History 15 minute tale told to the Seniors Oral History Project, telling about growing up in West Elgin, how he got into broadcasting, and his love for writing historical fiction! 

WWII Civilians and Resistance

Fall 2022 Lecture Series G&DHS

This fall’s program is about the resistance movements in Europe and the Canadian Home Front. These are inspiring stories for the generations who have never had to rise up together to fight a war.  (Our COVID experiences gave us an inkling.)  Only years later do we learn about what went on behind the scenes, thanks to historians.  Our speakers are going to address this civilian engagement angle as well as their research and stories. 

Sep 24, 2022.  Let’s help launch Al McGregor’s new book at the Glencoe Fair. Salvaged from the Ruins – A Novel of 1945.  As One War Ends Another Begins.   1- 4 p.m. in the Curling Arena at the historical society’s table. 

Sept 28, 2022.  Presentation and book launch at the Archives, 178 McKellar St, Glencoe. Al McGregor’s new book, Salvaged from the Ruins – A Novel of 1945. 

Oct 12, 2022.  Two historians will regale us with stories from our local  #4 Bombing and Gunnery School during WWII.   The Archives, 178 McKellar St, Glencoe from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.  

Nov 8, 2022.  The role of Allied military chaplains and the stories of those who died in the Battle of Normandy from June 6, 1944 to August 25, 1944.   Featuring Rev. Tom Wilson from the French Riviera.  2:00 p.m. at The Archives, 178 McKellar St, Glencoe  Nov 23, 2022.  Red Noble will tell us about the daring WWII Operation Jericho to bust out Resistance members and political prisoners.  Hybrid in-person and broadcast event starts at 7:00 p.m. at The Archives, 178 McKellar St,

Nov 23, 2022.  Red Noble will tell us about the daring WWII Operation Jericho to bust out Resistance members and political prisoners.  Hybrid in-person and broadcast event starts at 7:00 p.m. at The Archives, 178 McKellar St, 

See facebook Events and for details 

Arnold Warren Nethercott 1928 – 2020

The Loyalist Gazette. Spring 2021


On December 21, 2020, Arnold Nethercott passed away at Country Terrace Nursing Home, Komoka, Ontario. Arnold was the beloved husband of 32 years of Barbara (Balch) Nethercott nee: Dadswell. He was a dear stepfather of Ruth Truesdale (Brian), Kathy Bedford (Larry), Greg Balch (Kim), Mark Balch (Linda), Bruce Balch (Kim) and Chris Balch (Yvonne). Loving grandfather of 14 and great-grandfather of 15.

Arnold is also survived by his brothers Marv Nethercott (Mary) and Bill Nethercott (Roxann) and by his sisters Lois McLean and Phyllis Munro (Lorne). He was the loving uncle of 13 nieces and nephews and many great-nieces and great-nephews. Predeceased by his parents James Percy Nethercott and Mary Louise (Warren) Nethercott, his sister Eleanor Wells and his brothers-in-law Vin Wells and Jack McLean.

Arnold achieved the rank of Captain as a Forward Air Controller in fixed-wing aircraft and as a helicopter pilot while in the Canadian Armed Forces. He served in peacekeeping duties in various locations around the world including Cyprus. He was also a respected Past President of the Ontario Genealogical Society ( and the United Empire Loyalists Society of Canada. (

The Story of Eaton’s

Here is a delightful booklet published circa 1925 that tells the story of Eaton’s. If you are interested, more information about this iconic Canadian company can be found online at the T. Eaton Company fonds.

The T. Eaton Company started up in 1869 . This 27 page booklet was donated this month to The Archives by Ina Nelms.
Melbourne Legion 70 years

Melbourne Legion 70 years

Written by JoAnn Galbraith

On November 18th, 1949, twenty-four area veterans met in the Community Hall in Melbourne with the idea of possibly forming a Legion in the village.  With backing from Glencoe Legion Branch # 219, Melbourne received its Charter February 1st 1950. In 2017, a history committee was formed  to make plans for the anniversary celebration.

Several displays of the Legion’s history have been shown to the public since the committee was formed.   Richard Hathaway scanned all the photos and memorabilia while JoAnn Galbraith has reviewed the records and minute books with a possibility of publishing a book with the Legion’s history  in 2020.   

Fifty Legion members and special guest attended a  complimentary dinner at the Legion on Saturday night November 30th. Folks viewed a slide presentation of photos from the 1950s to present day.  Also on display were original photos and documents.  

At each table setting was a place card with the front cover consisting of a photo of the first Legion building 1949 and the present one in 2019.

Zone A 5 Commander Gerry Cross gave a brief history of Branch #510. Bob Davenport, on behalf of Reg Lovell Glencoe Branch # 219, gave a brief history of the affiliation between Melbourne Legion and Glencoe Legion since Branch #510’s formation.  

Regrets were received from Peg Luce, Zone A 5 Deputy Commander, and former Federal Minister Bev Shipley.  

JoAnn Galbraith, a member of the executive and the history committee, was introduced by President Tom Jeffery.  

Pin History

JoAnn told the history of her collection of Legion pins from 1783 to 2019.  The United Empire Loyalist pin represents those who were treated as traitors because of their allegiance to the British throne following the American Revolution were evacuated to Canada in 1783. 

The 1812 to 1815 pin represents the war 1812-15. A large percentage of those that took up arms in the 1812 War were Loyalists who fought against the American forces who were trying to take over their new homeland.  The 1812 pin also represents the Battle of Longwoods.   A memorial service is held annually at the site where the Battle occurred March 4,1814, usually the Sunday prior to March 4th. 

The American flag pin represents the Civil War. The Vimy Pin marks the birth of Canada as a nation as of the April 8th battle 1917,  a WWI pin dated 1918.  A Poppy pin and the origin of its existence since 1918.  A World War II pin, a Melbourne Legion Branch pin. 

JoAnn gave a brief history of the Melbourne Legion and the Ladies Auxiliary. A First Nation’s pin representing the Native Veterans. A Canadian flag pin represented Vietnam, Korean and Afghan Veterans.  A “D” Day  Looney 2019 pin and a Poppy Wreath pin inscribed with “We Will Remember Them”.  

Even though JoAnn is only an affiliate member of Melbourne Legion Branch #510,  her family members have been very involved during war time.  JoAnn’s great-great grandfather, Thomas Lucas was a Lieutenant in the 1812-15 war,  a son of a loyalist, who is buried in Cade Cemetery in Strathroy Caradoc. Her cousin Alonzo Lucas gave the Supreme Sacrifice in World War I. His parents are buried in Cook Cemetery. Her second cousin, Private Warden Lucas, a WWI Veteran, was a member of Melbourne Legion Branch #510. Her Uncle Bud Lucas, Royal Canadian Navy World War II, was a member of Caradoc-Mount Brydges Legion #251.  

In the new Mount Brydges subdivision in Municipality of Strathroy-Caradoc called Edgewoods, a number of the streets are named after Veterans of Caradoc Township and the Municipality of Strathroy-Caradoc. Lucas Avenue is a tribute to the four Lucas Veterans  who at one time or another were residents of Caradoc Township.  Two of the four are buried in the Municipality of Strathroy-Caradoc.

On the back of the place card was a list of  Melbourne veterans who gave the Supreme Sacrifice in World War I & II.