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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Aug 21 The McEachren Collection @ Forty-87

Aug 21 The McEachren Collection @ Forty-87

August 21, 2024

7:00 p.m. 

The McEachren Collection @ Forty-87 

4087 Olde Drive, Glencoe, ON

7:00 p.m.  Arrive at 4087 Olde Drive, Glencoe, ON.  Bring your lawn chairs.  Stroll around the half-acre tractor collection.  

7:30 p.m.  Dave McEachren will tell us about local dealer history.  

8:00 p.m.  Explore the new museum.  

As a 10-year old boy, Dave witnessed a few fellow neighborhood farm boys displaying their collections of farm toys at the Glencoe Fair.  It was that day that he decided to stop “playing in the dirt” with his toys and start collecting them instead.  More than a few decades later the dream of opening his own museum to share his ever-growing John Deere collection has come to light.  

The McEachren Collection @ Forty-87 includes over 40 real tractors, thousands of farm toy models, and tens of thousands of pieces of memorabilia and sales-related literature.  There will be something of interest for everyone, from local dealer history to samples of equipment you may never knew existed. 

 

 

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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Lecture about the Donnellys: Blood on the Snow

Glenn Stott – Blood on the Snow: The Donnellys and the Biddulph Tragedy

December 16 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Register : https://www.historysymposium.com/glenn-stott

The talk will be a livestream on YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeOdo89QhQQOSnROHKN3HoA.

The Donnellys are one of Southwestern Ontario’s most notorious families. This talk will be an overview of the 33 year troubles that took place in Biddulph Township and Lucan, Ontario region from 1847 to 1880 and ultimately ended with the murder of the five members of the Donnelly family.

 

The “Black” Donnellys were an Irish Catholic immigrant family who settled in Biddulph township, Canada West (later the province of Ontario), about 15 km northwest of London, in the 1840s. The family settled on a concession road which became known as the Roman Line due to its high concentration of Irish Catholic immigrants in the predominantly Protestant area. Many Irish Canadians arrived in the 19th-century, many fleeing the Great Famine of Ireland (1845-52). The Donnellys’ ongoing feuds with local residents culminated in an attack on the family’s homestead by a vigilante mob on 4 February 1880, leaving five of the family dead and their farm burned to the ground. No one was convicted of the murders, despite two trials and a reliable eyewitness

Appin Cemetery Memorial

Appin Cemetery Memorial

Every July, the historical society pays tribute to our ancestors. This year we are remembering the people in Appin CemeteryApprox 1000+ burials (dates: 1914 – present)

Time: 2:00 p.m. on July 28, 2023

Location: Appin Cemetery, Thames Road (Concession 2, Lot 12)

Please bring a lawn chair.  There will be a program featuring music, poetry, and history of the cemetery. 

Afterwards we will share refreshments and fellowship and and wander among the stones to reflect on those who have gone before us.

Link to interactive G&DHS Cemetery Map.

From Glendon Drive turn north on Thames road as you leave Appin. Well marked entrance on your RH side between Glendon and Falconbridge. Cemetery is located up a long straight laneway.

Please be aware of highway traffic when entering and leaving. There will be ample parking on cemetery lanes. If inclement weather is an issue, we’ll  cancel.

Last year, the  Cemetery Memorial Service was held at the Kilmartin Cemetery

“Beyond the gates of the cemetery lives an historical account of our past, a rich heritage populated by friends and relatives.  Loved ones who can no longer be with us, but whose memories live on.”  – Josh Kekosz.   

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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Farmer, writer, radical, sage: Re-introducing Peter McArthur

Farmer, writer, radical, sage: Re-introducing Peter McArthur

Thursday 22 February at 2.00pm ET.   Hybrid: zoom or attend The Archives, 178 McKellar St, Glencoe, ON N0L 1M0.  Stephanie McDonald, local gal living in Dublin, Ireland, will re-introduce us to our local writer who was very famous in his day. 

Join Zoom Meeting by clicking below. 

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Meeting ID: 815 4047 5927.  (in case you are asked for it)

Passcode: 809749

 

In 1908, at the age of 42, Peter McArthur returned to his family farm in Ekfrid Township with his wife and five children after living and working in Toronto, New York and London, England. For the next 16 years he wrote weekly columns in The Globe, amusing and enlightening his readers about life on a rural Ontario farm. 

 

October 28, 2024 will mark the centenary of McArthur’s death at the age of 58 following an operation. The man dubbed the “Sage of Ekfrid”, who had the most famous farm in Canada, is now nearly forgotten. With wit and wisdom, McArthur interrogated questions that we’re still asking today – how to bridge the rural/urban divide, how to protect the natural environment, and how to spend our days and live a good life.

 

Stephanie McDonald grew up on a mixed farm in Ekfrid Township. She has worked as a newspaper reporter in the Canadian Arctic, and in communications, policy and administration roles in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Ottawa and now Dublin, Ireland. Stephanie has had articles published in various newspapers and magazines, mostly about farmers, farming, food security and the climate crisis.

 

 

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Farmer, writer, radical: the Sage of Ekfrid

 

 

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

Time: Tuesday, Oct 17, 2023 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada).   

Link to his talk

Larry Cornelis will tell the story of the impacts and challenges faced by our local forests and landscapes over the last 15,000 years. This includes climate change at both ends of that time frame, the advancement of ecosystems north, indigenous land care and European colonization, extensive habitat loss and the extirpation of many native species across our region.

Larry just published a book, Trees, Forests and Nature, in Southwest Ontario, so we will also launch this gorgeous book that explains our own beautiful backyard here in the Great Lakes Region.


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.

From Polar Bears to No Bears: A 15000 year history


More events are planned for the Pre-Contact History series

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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

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.

AGM: Show & Tell. Celebrating 45 years.

7 p.m. Annual General Meeting.  

Join the Glencoe & District Historical Society and come to the meeting of the members to review the accomplishments of 2022 and make plans for the coming year.  Individual Memberships are $20 and family memberships are $25.  Tax Receipts will be issued by Membership Secretary Harold Carruthers.

Show and Tell!  Bring a family heirloom, artifact, or mysterious thing from the past to share with the group.  We’ll have some fun with this.

 

Existing members: this is your official notice to attend the annual general meeting to be held at the Archives, 178 McKellar Street, Glencoe, Ontario.  

Or attend via Zoom meeting.

Topic: Glencoe & District Historical Society Annual General Meeting 45 years!

Time: Apr 19, 2023 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

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Open House to Celebrate 45 years.

Apr 19, 2022  Open House to Celebrate 45 years.

2 – 5 p.m.  Open House 

7 p.m. Annual General Meeting.  

A good crowd was in attendance for an afternoon open house and members returned in the evening for the 2022  annual general meeting of the Glencoe and District Historical Society. Once the evening business was complete, a show and tell featuring historical items provided by attendees wrapped up the busy day. 

 

 

Battle Hill Memorial

Memorial Service: Battle of Longwoods

Join us on March 5th as we commemorate the Battle of Longwoods which was originally fought on March 4th 1814.  Arrive at 1:45 p.m. and park carefully.  We will remember them. 

We will  remember those injured and killed at the Battle of the Longwoods in 1814.

Battle Hill National Historic Site, 2945 Longwoods Rd, Glencoe, ON N0L 1M0

Watch this beautiful short video of the MOURNING RING OF LIEUTENANT PATRICK GRAEME OF THE 89TH REGIMENT OF FOOT. KILLED ON MARCH 4, 1814, WHILE LEADING THE BRITISH ATTACK AT THE BATTLE OF LONGWOODS.

 

Click to Facebook Event by the Upper Thames Military Re-enactment Society  https://www.royal-scots.com/

Co-hosted by the Glencoe & District Historical Society

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.

No Guns, Just God’s Glory: Tom Wilson. Nov 8

Local guests: Arrive at the Archives at 1:45 p.m. so we can join our on-line guests  at 2:00 p.m.  Author Tom Wilson joins us from the French Riviera. The Archives is located at  178 McKellar St, Glencoe, ON N0L 1M0.  

No Guns, Just God’s Glory is a book about the Chaplains who fought the good fight during WWII.  Details about the role of Allied military chaplains and stories of those who died in the Battle of Normandy from June 6, 1944 to August 25, 1944.   

On-line guests:    Join Zoom Meeting before 2:00 p.m. 

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Meeting ID: 841 0049 3163

Passcode: 512908.     More numbers below.

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 is a Canadian Anglican Priest who has served in Southern Ontario, Scotland and now the French Riviera. Tom holds 3 degrees, a BA and Mdiv from Western and a doctorate from Drew University in New Jersey. He and his wife have 3 small dogs, a Bichon and 2 chihuahuas.  Welcome home Tom.  Looking forward to your presentation direct from the French Riviera.  

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

https://www.orepeditions.com/fr/histoire/566-no-guns-just-god-s-glory-9782815104166.html  

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.”

 

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