CHESTERVILLE – When keeping track of a region’s history is your primary job, celebrating your own milestones often falls by the wayside. But Sat., Oct. 26 the Chesterville and District
Historical Society (CDHS) took a few moments to acknowledge their 35 years as an organization.
Arranged by CDHS president Ashley Harper and her team of dedicated volunteers, the evening showcased an array of artifacts collected through the years and honoured past presidents and key contributors.
The items on display included military uniforms and artifacts, a classic suit and wedding dress created by a tailor in Winchester, a handcrafted quilt with 400 names of local Dunbar residents completed in 1929 and a telegraph unit from the Finch telegraph station, which was recently discovered in the basement of a retirement home.
“We really wanted to spread it out so we show that we’re not just the Chesterville historical society,” said Harper.
Key founders, including Clarence Cross, Bob Bennet, Jack Graham Durant and John Macaulay, who was represented by his wife Grace, were recognized.
Given the chance to address those gathered, Macaulay remembered the early days fondly.
“We were told, ‘get a theme. Do not let people keep bringing stuff in!’ But I’m afraid in the beginning that did not work. The keys got out and the stuff got in,” she said.
Durant, who played a vital role as a councillor to get the project approved, also spoke. Humbled to speak amongst the countless volunteers and friends, Durant extended his thanks for their tireless efforts and hinted that his own work isn’t yet done.
“As hard as these people have worked there’s an immense quantity of that stuff still out there and I presently am actively looking to try to find more space,” said Durant.
Gail Parker expertly played the role of master of ceremonies as the evening brought together both new and old members with the common goal of preserving the tales of local times. It’s a moment that wasn’t lost on Harper.
“It’s a big milestone to be able to have a small historical organization for that long,” she said. “It’s more than 30 years of community service from people giving their time and their artifacts to create a narrative for the community over the last 200 plus years of history.”