Highlights from the 2024 Annual General Meeting

Highlights from the 2024 Annual General Meeting

Date & Venue: Wednesday, April 17th, 2024, at the Archives, 178 McKellar Street, Glencoe.

Attendance: A solid turnout of 30 members, with all executives present except President Ken Beecroft.

Opening: Vice President Mary Simpson initiated the meeting at 7:00 PM, welcoming members old and new.

Remembrance: A moment of silence was observed for the late Lorne Munro, a member for 20 years.

Business as Usual: The minutes from the previous year’s AGM were approved without issue, and discussions moved smoothly to current matters.

Financial Health: Treasurer Marilyn McCallum presented a detailed financial report and budget for the upcoming year, which were both accepted unanimously.

Membership Milestone: Harold Carruthers announced a record membership count, reflecting the society’s ongoing relevance.

Engaging Programs: Program Director Mary Simpson introduced upcoming events, including a talk by local author C.J. Fredericks.

Election Excitement: Nominations for the new executive team were made and approved smoothly.

Dynamic Presentations: Members shared updates on various projects, showcasing the society’s diverse activities.

Closing: The meeting concluded at 8:50 PM, setting the stage for the incoming executive team.

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April 1, 2023 to March 31, 2024 in review

April 1, 2023 to March 31, 2024 in review

Report for the Glencoe & District Historical Society

K.W. Beecroft, President, Glencoe & District Historical Society, Dated March 31, 2024

Founded in 1978, the Glencoe & District Historical Society (G&DHS) set out on a mission to preserve the rich history of Southwestern Ontario, particularly around the Glencoe area. Ambitious projects, such as mapping local cemeteries, took place from 1978 to 1988. In 1983, G&DHS found a home in the basement of the old Andrew Carnegie Library and expanded to both floors in 1994. A substantial collection of land registry deeds was rescued in 1997, finding a secure home in the original land registry vault. The partnership restoration of the Glencoe Train Station in 2001 became a symbol of the society’s commitment to preserving local heritage. The Society is a not-for-profit volunteer organization with charitable status and a member of the Ontario Historical Society. The Society was founded upon a Constitution, which continued to define our operational structure

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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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Early Days of Mosa Township

The most southwest of Middlesex County’s townships, Mosa Township was initially part of a much larger parcel of land including parts of Kent and Lambton Counties. Surveyor Mahlon Burwell indicated that there was some confusion regarding the naming of the township, first designated as township D and then briefly as Aragon. Finally, the name Mosa, a derivative of the Spanish word Musa (muse). However the Lieutenant Governor Sir Peregrine Maitland decided to name the township Mosa, after the Maas river.

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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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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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From Polar Bears to No Bears: a 15,000 Year History

Presented by Larry Cornelis

Glencoe, ON. October 17, 2023. A good crowd, both in person and online, took in the first meeting of the fall for the Glencoe and District Historical Society on Tuesday evening, October 17. Guest speaker for the evening, Larry Cornelis, took guests on a journey from the time that this area was covered by an ice shield.

Over the centuries, after being a tundra, the area became part of a boreal forest. Some 4,000 to 6,000 years ago, deciduous forests and savannas developed. It was an open landscape, maintained by the First Nations population through fire and by the herbivores that roamed freely. Native land care influenced forest development until the Spaniards arrived in the 1490s-1500s, bringing disease that travelled rampantly across North America. At that point, there were an estimated 30-million people on the continent.

However, 90 per cent of the population was depleted by the time the French and English arrived, which resulted in forest and old growth cover. Pioneers settled in the early 1800s, by which time there was a deep dark forest which they assumed was always there.

By 1860, 65 per cent of local forests were gone and, by 1910, up to 90 per cent of forests were depleted. Cornelis lamented about the hardship to wildlife due to the loss of forest cover and habitat. Referring to the various blights which are defoliating trees, he noted that once we lose something, it’s very hard to get it back. He ended his presentation sharing his amazement and tips in regard to the Carolinian Forest zone.

Refreshments were served as Cornelis autographed copies of his book, “Trees, Forests and Nature in Southwestern Ontario.”

Report by Marie Williams

Larry was born in Sarnia Ontario but spent most of his years at the family farm north of Wallaceburg along the North Sydenham River where his love of nature developed. Larry is a certified Horticulturist, Conservationist and Naturalist. He has been involved with local nature and conservation organizations for 35 years including Lambton Wildlife, The Sydenham Field Naturalists, Ontario Nativescapes and Ontario Nature to name a few.
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

Tartan Days at The Archives

Tartan Days at The Archives

It was a damp day July 15, 2023 for this year’s Tartan Days but people were coming and going at 8:00 p.m. at the Archives. It was a festive atmosphere all day long until things wound down after 3:00 p.m. At 1:00 p.m. Mayor Allan Mayhew and Deputy Mayor Mike Sholdice opened up proceedings attended by 43 people.

A short history of the following was shared by members of G&DHS:

200 years since Ekfrid Township were incorporated (1821) – Marilyn McCallum

200 years since Mosa Township was incorporated – Ken Willis

170 years since early days of Dundonald (Glencoe) building homes and businesses along the rail line (1853) – Harold Carruthers

125 years since the Glencoe Town Hall was built (1898) and the cornerstone was laid. 

150 years since the Incorporation of the Town of Glencoe in 1873. – Harold Carruthers

45 years since the Glencoe & District Historical Society was established in 1978. – Lorne Munro

Also: 100 years since the Glencoe Library was built by the Carnegie Foundation (1923).

60 years since Quad County school and Mosa Central School opened at Pratt Siding (1963) 

Harold Carruthers showed the time capsule that is being prepared, similar to what was recovered from the cornerstone of the old Glencoe Town Hall when it was demolished in the early 1960s.  It’s been 125 years since the Glencoe Town Hall was built (1898) and the cornerstone was laid.  If you have any ideas what should be included, let us know.

Funny coincidence: next month at The Blyth Festival Theatre, a new play called the Chronicles of Sarnia is premiering and starring our very own Mark Crawford, actor and playwright. Check it out: here is the plot:

Chronicles Of Sarnia

WORLD PREMIERE. Written by Matt Murray; Directed by Miles Potter 

Passionate, retired history teacher Erin has convinced the City of Sarnia to create a 100-year time capsule for future generations to open. She organizes a town-wide meeting for community input, with a replica of the capsule itself, ready to momentously unveil.

But in spite of homemade Nanaimo bars, only her husband, a department store employee, and a young woman who is there for… complicated reasons, show up. Oh, and the janitor.

Refusing to reschedule, Erin, undaunted, takes this tiny group in hand and sets about distilling the essence of, well, of Sarnia.

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: www.andrewblakemcgill.com

Instagram: @andrewmcgill

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.

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