South Frontenac Council held one of the shortest meetings on record Tuesday night, clocking in at 14 minutes.
The proceedings consisted of extending a contract to transport household hazardous waste, notices of motion from Coun. Ross Sutherland and Norm Roberts as well as receiving minutes from various committee meetings.
The longest time slot was given over to Coun. Doug Morey, who relayed a letter from the Museum Board who relayed a request for artifacts for this summer’s displays.
The museum is looking for artifacts (either donation or loan) from Storrington, Loughborough and Bedford as well as photographs (which will be reproduced for slide shows to recycle on computer monitors in the background.
Here’s what they’re looking for:
An old wood stove, ideally from the period of late 1890s-1930, at least it should look that vintage
A blanket box or hope chest
An old kitchen table or Hoosier
A 5-gallon milk can
Medical devices, surgical instruments, old bandages, old medicine bottles
Other items related to nursing in the years of 1900 through 1930
WWI military uniforms or parts of uniforms, packs, belts, etc
Pictures documents and other artifacts related to the men of the 148th Battalion in WWI
Items that people at home used to support the war effort in WWI.
In terms of photographs (which will be returned), they are looking for photos from the period of 1900 through 1930 from throughout the Township of:
People at home, in the fields, with horses, vehicles or equipment
Period shots of buildings, houses, barns
Local soldiers in WWI uniforms, at home or overseas
Any old photos really, that can help people relate to our history.
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CAO Wayne Orr reports that Coun. Pat Barr’s hip surgery last week went well.
“She’s not here tonight, she’s at a square dance,” quipped Mayor Ron Vandewal.
Paul Younge likes to collect things — farming related things to be specific.
Younge’s collections were front and centre at the Bedford Historical Society’s annual open house Saturday in Glendower Hall, where the society’s archives are also located.
Younge is something of an archivist himself. Amongst the display of horse collars, butter churns, milk cans and other implements (including an ‘egg crate’ with the words “Humpty Dumpty” printed on the side), he was displaying an impressive collection of farm-related publications.
“This issue of Farmer’s Advocate turned 102 yesterday,” he said, pointing out the publication date.
One of his favourite collections is of Hoard’s Dairyman, which for a number of issues in 1959 and 1960 ran comparisons of how things were done many years ago.
“It shows you all the changes in 75 years,” he said. “It shows pictures of what things were like in 1885 and compares that to 1960.
“For example, milk was delivered by wagons and then by tucks.”
He describes his collection as “some bottles, some tins and examples of pioneer farming — and a variety of newspapers.”
He said he grew up on a small farm and so these things interest him.
“I have various collections of you-name-it,” he said. “It’s only limited by space and capital.
“I had it in me as a child to collect and then nine years ago I got back into it.”
While his main collecting passion is farm paraphernalia, it’s not his only avenue.
“Last year, I was here with collectable tins,” he said. “Next year, it will probably be something else.”
The Kennebec Historical Society has been focusing on churches of late, and the society’s display at the Frontenac Heritage Festival Saturday in Arden reflected the recent focus.
“We’re collecting things over time,” said society member Sarah Hale. “We get quite a few things from estates.”
One of the things they’ve acquired of late is a History of the Arden Standard Church, by Bessie Wager Seiter.
In it, Seiter tells a story of Mrs. Joe Hughes, who owned a general store in town.
One day, Mrs. Hughes became gravely ill.
“The doctor did all he could but to no avail,” the history relates. “She lapsed into a coma and the doctor felt she was on her death bed.
“Rev. Burtch called in Rev. J.B. Pring, Rev. Martin Slack and Rev. George Kelly. They anointed her, prayed over her and shortly she roused.
“She remarked that she felt as someone had put her to sleep and operated on her. She asked for her clothes, dressed and from that moment was healed.”
Strangely enough, the estate of Irene Monds donated not only a collection of dolls and a wedding dress but also a book that contained the same story, lending more credence to it.
The society also has documentation on the old United Church, which burned in 1952, as well as many others.
“At one point, there were three Methodist Churches,” Hale said. “Now, there are three active churches, the United, Anglican and Standard, which 10 years ago joined with the Weselyan.”
Hale said they’re always looking for new members and to join, contact Hale at 613-335-2073. For $5 yearly fee, you get their newsletter and they plan a museum trip and strawberry social each year.
What is it that gets people so excited about seeds. Is it gardening. Some people like to garden. It's peaceful, meditative, back to the earth. If it were gardening alone, then it wouldn't really matter which seeds we had, as long as they grow good food. There is something more. Seeds are alive. That's neat. A little baby inside a shell, with enough food for it to eat until it is planted. I love that. But most people don't know that. I think it is emotion. That the seeds we grow and love elicit emotion, they become very personal to us.
There are seeds that come with stories.
The trail of tears bean.
It was 1838. The government decided to take the land where the Cherokee people lived, and relocate them. They were marched from Tennessee to Oklahoma. It was winter and many died of starvation, and cold. Their path was named the trail of tears because of so much loss. Some carried these beans with them. A symbol of hope that they would have a home and food where they were going. It is a very sad story. And it brings forth the essence of the strength of a seed. Here it is today, in my hand. How could I not grow it, in their honour.
Philadelphia White Box radish.
Philadelphia, the 1890s. People grew these radishes in window boxes. Can you imagine little window boxes lining the streets where residents grew food. I never really thought about people gardening in a metropolis in those days. But looking at these seeds in my hand, I do.
Cream of Saskatchewan watermelon.
Brought to Saskatchewan by Russian immigrants. These seeds made a very long and cold journey across the ocean, deep into our country. The immigrant farmers grew it, they ate it, it helped to sustain them. And it too is here, in my hand. A piece of history. Kept alive by each of us who grows it. Stories make us stop and reflect, take us to a different time and place. For a moment we are carried away by thought or feeling, all because of a tiny little seed.
There are also seeds that become our own stories. My grandmother grew this kind of tomato. I remember eating the food she made with it, nothing else tastes quite the same. And so I grow it now, because it tastes good. And every time I eat it, I am brought back to my childhood and the feeling that I had when we would visit my grandmother, and the feelings that I have for her still, after so many years. All because of this precious little seed.
My neighbour has been talking about and showing off this kind of pepper for years, how he grows the best peppers. Well, I saw his seed packet and decided to buy some for myself. Won't he be surprised when he walks into my house and sees this giant bowl of truly the most beautiful peppers ever, on my table. I am very pleased with myself. These seeds are awesome.
I like seeds that come from here. I am part aboriginal. These are partly my seeds then too, are they not. I feel like they are. They are special to me because they are part of my own history. I do not remember my connection, but the seeds do. My great great grandmother came from the Tyendinega area. I never met her. But in my hand, I hold some beans. Potato beans some people call them. These beans, came from there too. My ancestors grew and ate them. Long before my other ancestors ever came here. Maybe she ate them too. These seeds are so much more than just food, they are my roots.
Some seeds we grow, we have never tried, or heard of. By choosing them, and in growing them, we create our own stories for them. This plant grew like crazy and I had so many pumpkins I didn't know what to do with them. My children and I made many pumpkin pies. Now when I think of this seed it evokes a feeling of abundance, and love and time spent with family. Just any pumpkin doesn't do the same, not the same feeling, a different overtone
I grew a black radish last year. Nero tondo. It had the craziest looking and textured skin. Like a thick, blackened, bumpy hide. I decided to try it anyway. I cut it in half. It was stunning. Bright white on the inside, nestled in black. And it was crisp. Not tough, not hard. Perfect. A perfect radish. But so shocking I say, when I pulled it out of the ground. I will grow them again because I remember the, wow what is this, a feeling of wonder and awe, especially when I tasted it and it was good.
I was at an event one year, selling my seeds. A lady came and bought some. We were chatting and from something she said I thought, oh, she will love this kind of lettuce and so I gave her a package to try. She came back a year later and said that those seeds I gave her were amazing. The lettuce lived all winter in a sheltered area and was one of the first green things to appear in early spring. She will always connect those seeds to me, and so will I, to her. She loves them, growing them makes her feel good, and that makes me feel good too. Those seeds have forever joined us together in a very small way.
If you garden, you have stories. The only vegetable that survived the drought that year, the squash I thought was lost months ago but look at all of them growing here under the weeds, the pole bean who never stopped climbing, The peas my best friend who moved away gave me, the watermelon that only actually ripens the odd year in very long, hot seasons but tastes so good that I grow it every year and hope.
Seeds are hope. Seeds are joy. Seeds are abundance. They connect us together, out in the world and in our homes. They endure with us. They make us remember. Seeds are what is inside their tiny little shells.
Seeds are life.
(Dawn Morden is the garderner behind the Mountain Grove Seed company. She sent the above article in last week, along with a note saying that she was feeling in a little bit of a funk early this year when she received a note from Bob Wildfong, the man who started Seeds of Diversity.
“He thanked me for all of my work with heirloom seeds. It got me thinking about what seeds are all about, his note was touching. And this is what came out,” she wrote. We thought it was fitting for a cold January week.
Edna Webb was quite young when she gave birth to Jennie, her first child, at home on Little Franklin Lake near Perth Road on December 6, 1918. WWI had just ended, and horse power still ruled on the roads.
The Webb’s - George, Edna and baby Jennie, soon moved to Ida Hill, at the Washburn Road in the southeastern corner of Storrington Township, in what would become South Frontenac 80 years later.
At the age of 82 Jennie was one of the recipients of the second annual South Frontenac Volunteers of the Year Awards in June of 2000. The award recognised her decades long commitment to the Women’s Institute, 4H club, the United Church and numerous other community efforts. The other winners that year included Mel Fleming from Bedford, Percy Snider from Loughborough and John McDougall, Portland.
A lot happened to Jennie Webb between 1918 and 2000, and a lot more has happened since.
As she reflected last week on the occasion of her 100th Birthday at Fairmount Home, with her eldest daughters Nadine and Linda at her side, a picture of a life of family, hard work, faith, and a love of the rural, farming life, emerged.
Jennie Webb grew up at Ida Hill, where she attended elementary school at the Ida Hill School. She was not an only child for long, as 6 younger brothers arrived in succession. Her father George worked for the telephone company as the service was being built out in the region, and was an active beekeeper. After leaving Bell, he had as many as 250 hives on his own property and the properties of many neighbours around the countryside. Jennie’s mother Edna was a midwife.
When Jenny was 15, a family from Desert Lake, near Verona, bought the farm across the road from the Webbs. John Abraham was the eldest son of that family. He was about 22. With his sister, he walked the family’s stock of cattle over from Desert Lake to Ida Hill in one long day.
There must have been a first glance, a first time when 22-year old John Cousineau and 15 year, Jennie Webb saw each other soon after the Cousineau family arrived at Ida Hill. That first impression is still alive in Jennie. It comes out when she looks at some of the family photos she keeps by her side, a sign of her enduring love for her John Abraham.
Two years after meeting, Jennie and John were married. When John passed ten years ago, at the age of 97, they had been married for 72 years.
Jennie and John purchased their own farm on the Battersea Road, and moved there in 1942. They have four daughters, Nadine, Linda, Shirley and Marilyn. They ran a Holstein Dairy Farm, and raised chickens for meat and eggs on the farm.
It took John ten years to build a new brick house for the family on the property, since he was running the farm while building the house, and they moved into the new house in the 1950’s.
In those days, there were four hotels in nearby Battersea. At the Cousineau farm, they would raise 500 chicks at a time. Calls would in from one of the hotels for 3 or 4 dozen broilers for the next day, and Jennie and John were pretty experienced and efficient at preparing chickens. It took them 7 minutes to kill, dry pluck and prepare a chicken for delivery. They would bring up the chickens in the morning, for serving that evening in the dining room. Local food was a way of life back then.
Jennie lived in the house until January of last year, when a month after her 99th birthday, mobility issues, hearing and vision loss had progressed to the point where it became necessary to move to Fairmount Home. The farm is still operating, as a cow-calf operation now, in the hands of one of Jennie’s grandsons, one of many family members who continue to live nearby, and her house has been sold, to her great grandson.
Jennie’s daughter Linda lives across the road, Nadine is in Inverary, and Shirley lives nearby as well. Marilyn lives in Guelph, but has a summer cottage in Verona. Jennie has 9 grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren, and 6 great-great grandchildren, with another one on the way. Just as they visited at the farmhouse often, her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren drop by Fairmount Home on a regular basis.
The changes that have taken place in the world during Jennie’s lifetime are unprecedented in human history. She has bridged the era of horse and carriage and driverless cars.
It is a tribute to her lifetime of hard work and devotion to community and family that the rural values she grew up with are still alive in her, and in her family as well.
Flipping through the pages of the recent publication, “Lest We Forget, a book of short biographies of men who fought in the Great War with connections to Kennebec and Olden Townships,” by Malcolm Sampson and Rhonda Noble, it becomes clear how present the war was to the lives of people in rural Ontario communities at the time. The biographies tell the basics of what happened to the men who left and either returned physically intact, with injuries that impacted the rest of their lives, or did not come back at all. It also shows how the war’s impact on their lives has reverberated in the local communities in the 100 year since the war ended.
To mark 100 years since the end of the war, we are printing a selection of excerpts from those biographies.
CRAIN, George, was born in Oso Township on July 29, 1894. He enlisted on May 6, 1916 at Sharbot Lake and gave his father, who lived at Clarendon Station as next of kin. He was single and gave his occupation as a farmer. After training, he sailed to Europe on the SS ‘Southland’ in September 1916, arriving at Liverpool on October 6, 1916. On August 25, 1917 he was wounded and taken to the 3rd Australian Hospital at Abberville, France He eventually made it back to the 20th Battalion on April 9, 2918. On October 18, 1918 he was again wounded, gunshot wounds to his right thigh and shrapnel wounds to his right arm. After recovery he returned to Canada and was discharged at Kingston, Ontario on February 17, 1919. After the war George returned to the Elphin area and farmed. He never married and died on February 2, 1986.
BEVERLEY, George Francis. George was born July 9th, 1895. He attested March 9th, 1916 and his occupation was a farmer. His next of kin was Francis H. Beverley, his fatherHe joined the 146th Battalion and while overseas he served with the 4th Canadian Mounted Regiment. He was wounded at Vimy Ridge in the right knee on December 20th, 1916 and transferred to England. He spent 3-1/2 months in England and sailed for Canada on SS‘Letitia’ on May 13th, 1917 and reached Halifax on May 23rd, 1917. He convalesced in Kingston and was discharged January 31st, 1918. He died September 5th, 1969 and is buried in Mountain Grove.
LOYST, Roy, Private was born in Arden on November 8, 1896. His father was Christopher and his mother was Addie. Addie died in 1899 and Roy was raised by his grandparents, Christopher and Sara Boomhower. He sailed for Europe on September 22, 1915 and was reported missing in France on June 21, 1916. On the 28th of June the report changed to “wounded and missing”. He was finally reported as “killed in action ”February 16, 1917 at only 19 years old. Although he had given his next of kin as his grandparents, his war service medals were sent to Mr. W.S.C. Loyst of Arden, his brother. His name is commemorated on the Menin Gate in France.
LEWIS, David “Austin”, Private was born 27th August 1885 in Olden Township. He was the son of George Lewis and Margaret (nee Laidley). When he attested on January 17, 1916 he worked as a farmer. He enlisted with the 146th Battalion and sailed to Europe on the SS ‘Southland’ from Halifax on September 25, 1916 arriving in England October 6, 1916. He was sent to France December 1, 1916. In June of 1917 he was serving with the 4th Canadian Mounted Regiment when he died of shrapnel wounds to his arms and chest on the 4th June 1917 at age 31. He is buried at Bruay Cemetery in France. e. Austin was the second son of George and Margaret to die within 2 months of each other. The cenotaph in Mountain Grove indicates that he was gassed.
MEEKS, Archie, was born in Cloyne on August 18, 1897. His parents were Ian and Annie Meeks. When he attested at Flinton on January 17, 1916 he was 18 years and 5 months old. He went overseas with the 146th Battalion on September 25, 1916 on the SS ‘Southland’. He served as a machine gunner and on April 9, 1917 at Vimy Ridge was shot in the head and was blinded. He returned to Canada and spent time in Queen Military Hospital and was discharged on September 27, 1919 and received a $20 monthly pension for his wounds for the rest of his life. He married Azeta Lyons and they had eight children, 5 girls and 3 boys and lived in the Northbrook/Cloyne area. He died on November 11, 1965 at 11:00 am while the 1 minute silence was being observed, according to family members. Archie was a founding member of the Northbrook Legion, Branch 328.
PALMATEER, Marshall Bidwell was born in Kennebec Township on March 18, 1893 to Jacob Palmateer and Elizabeth Martha Larabee. He attested on January 14, 1916 and went into the 146th Battalion. He was single, his occupation was a labourer He sailed to England on the SS ‘Southland’, arriving October 6, 1916 and on October 6th, 1916 was transferred to the 95th Battalion. On February 17, 1917 he was transferred again to the 20th Battalion and sent to France. Marshall was reported killed in action on August 18, 1917 and is buried at Aix-Noulette in France.
PARKER, Clare. Clare was born May 22, 1894 in Olden Township. His parents were Alexander (Alec) and Edith Parker. When he attested on August 16, 1915, he gave his occupation as a farmer. He served first with the 2nd Reserve Depot and later with the 1st Brigade, Canadian Field Artillary. While in France he was reporetd wounded in the face and right shoulder and arm on May 2, 1917. He healed and went back to action and while serving with the Field Artillary was killed in action on October 1, 1918 just 6 weeks prior to the Armistice. He was 24 years old and is buried at Haynecourt British Cemetary in France.
SELMAN, Norman Curtis. Norman used his middle name Curtis. He was born in Kennebec Township on March 27, 1888. When he enlisted on December 23, 1915 he was living in Harlowe. He listed his mother, Jane Anne Selman as next of kin; she was living in Northbrook. He was single, his occupation was a farmer. and he had previous experience with the 47th Militia. He joined the 146th Battalion and sailed on the SS ‘Southland’ to England on September 25, 1916. When he arrived in France he was transferred to the 20th Battalion. He was reported “missing” at Passchendaele on November 12, 1917. The report was later updated to reflect that he had, in fact, been captured and was a prisoner of war. Later reports showed him at P.O.W. camps at Dulmer or Dalmen, Westfalen and Brandenberg. Records dated January 8, 1919 shows “Now released, arrived at Ripon, England, January 4, 1919”. He was later returned to Canada and was discharged on May 14, 1919.
The Clar-Mill Community Archives’ latest project is cataloguing North Frontenac’s cemeteries and as such coordinator Brenda Martin was at North Frontenac’s regular Council meeting last Friday in Plevna to outline how they plan to go about it.
“One of the first mysteries to unravel will be the determination of the oldest cemetery in North Frontenac,” Martin said. “Until a recent find, Playfair Cemetery was recorded as the oldest.
“Perhaps it is the oldest ‘registered’ cemetery.”
Watkins Cemetery (Lot 20 NER, Clarendon) on private land was recently identified and markers and historical writings would place this as the oldest cemetery in the Township with graves dating to 1862 when Bramwell Watkins had Pierpont dig a grave for his brother, Delany, who drowned in Fawn Lake on Sept. 21, 1860.
Currently, there are 13 cemeteries recognized in North Frontenac including (Ardoch) Plevna Community Cemetery, Ardoch United Church Cemetery, Cloyne Pioneer Cemetery, Dempsey Cemetery, Donaldson (Mundell) Cemetery, Grindstone (Playfair) Cemetery, Harlowe United Church Cemetery, Ompah Cemetery, Robertsville Cemetery, Sproule Family Burial, St. John’s Anglican Cemetery, St. Killian’s Catholic Cemetery and St. Mark’s Anglican (Harlowe).
“We’re looking for input (from Council) as to what to do next,” Martin said. “We want a summer student, and we have people who are willing to help.
“But there’s an inconsistent numbering system and improvements needed to the website link.”
She said there’s been a drone survey of the Robertsville Cemetery done as a pilot project and they’d like to explore doing more of that.
“But we need a Township letter of support for our grant application and after that our biggest issue would be summer students and office space for them to work in.”
“Right now we’ve got a lot of old tombstones that lawnmowers are running over,” said Coun. Gerry Martin. “And some of those old Ardoch tombstones date back to the 1880s.
“We need to look at getting them fixed.”
“I think this is an extremely worthwhile project,” said Coun. Vernon Hermer.
As per the Township procedural bylaw, the allocation of funds and resources was deferred until the nex regular meeting.
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Council voted to commission a $7,200 engineering study for accessible washrooms at the Snow Road Hall.
But it wasn’t a unanimous decision.
Mayor Ron Higgins cast the deciding vote (there were only five Council members in attendance) agreeing with Dep. Mayor Fred Perry and Coun. Gerry Martin. Coun. Vernon Hermer and John Inglis voted against.
“I’d like to go on record as protesting against this,” said Inglis. “I don’t understand why you have to hire an engineering firm to wire a bathroom.”
“I agree with you,” said manager of community development Corey Klatt. “It’s over the top.
“But it’s required because of the (accessibility) rennovation.”
• • •
Mayor Ron Higgins gave notice that he’d like to review the firearms bylaw next meeting.
“We got complaints from a couple of residents,” he said. “People are hunting too close to homes.”
“The squirrels are going to be happy if I can’t shoot any more of them,” said Coun. Gerry Martin.
• • •
Coun. John Inglis gave notice of motion to discuss options for reducing the speed of heavy trucks and cars through Ompah.
“Apparently there are large trucks coming through at 4:30 a.m. and we got complaints from a couple of residents,” he said.
The Cloyne and District Historical Society’s Flickr account recently topped a thousand photos, Ken Hook told the Society’s monthly meeting in Cloyne this week.
For the handful of folks unfamiliar with Flickr, it’s an image and video hosting service that’s free to use but uploading content or commenting on a photo requires a registering an account.
The Society has had a presence there since 2013.
“We have 323 followers, from all around the world,” Hook said. “Like Brazil, France, Austria, Guatemala, Switzerland and the U.S.
“Even the State Library from Queensland Australia is a follower — we’re not really sure why.”
The Society began the page as part of their commitment to preserve local history and the material can be downloaded for research or presentations.
“We do say that commercial use is prohibited because the intent was not for someone to make a profit from,” Hook said. “Although it’s unlikely anyone would be able to.”
So far, the site has had 2.1 million views and some of them had led to some interesting comments and connections.
For example, one of the most popular photos, with 35,357 views, is of a group of Girl Guides in the back of a Fargo truck in front of Wannamaker’s Store taken 1950.
“The Girl Guides International linked to it from their website and one guy commented that it had to be Canadian because that’s the only place you could get Fargo trucks,” Hook said. “I didn’t know that.”
Another interesting connection came from a photo in the ‘Carol Lessard collection’ of Quintland, the collection of souvenir shops and attractions that sprung up around Callander Bay in the late ’30s and early ’40s as a result of the popularity of the Dionne Quintuplets.
The curator of the Callander Bay Heritage Museum sent an email to the Society saying that this was the only photograph evidence they’ve ever seen of a teepee in front of the clock tower. Apparently, a first nations chief would pose for photographs for tourists but they weren’t sure of the authenticity of the story until seeing the photo on Flickr.
Hook was pleased to point out that at 1,081 photos, the Society has a larger presence than the Halifax Municipal Archives, which has 989.
“The Deseronto Archives, from whom we got the idea, has 2,024 but they joined in 2008,” he said.
But that may change as the Society acquires more images.
Perhaps they may catch the Smithsonian Institution (3,486 images) or even the British Museum (1,700,014).
The Scotts of Kennebec held a reunion in October of 2016 with relatives coming from across Canada to attend. It was a celebration and sharing of their heritage when their ancestors Daniel Scott [1822-1911] and Phoebe Parks[1815-c.1891] came with their young family up the Salmon River from Hay Bay in 1855.
Another reunion is planned for the extended Scott-Parks family at Arden Sunday Oct.21 (noon-4:30 p.m.). There will be the dedication of a plaque to be placed in the Kennebec Heritage Garden, just across the road from the Arden millpond. The Scotts are honoured to be among the first families to be represented. All community members interested in local history are welcome.
Family members will have the opportunity to contribute to the cost of the plaque, make a donation toward lunch and the Kennebec & District Historical Society. At noon people may go with the group to the cemetery, then at 1 p.m. to the millpond, then 2 p.m. to the community hall for lunch, to view displays and share stories. Plans are in the works to produce a family book.
The Scott family would like to congratulate the Kennebec & District Historical Society for their efforts to establish a Heritage Garden near the millpond. Community members interested in local history can support this local organization with a donation to the Society. It is a registered Canadian charity and can offer tax receipts.
Malcolm Sampson always has a project on the go. When he first arrived in Arden 15 or so years ago he instigated the establishment of a soccer league. Over the years he has organised numerous events at the Arden Legion, all aimed at enhancing the profile and/or raising money for the legion. Coming up to Canada 150 he took an interest in the names on the Cenotaph in Arden, particularly the names of WWI Vets from the former Kennebec Township. Sensing there must be a story behind the names of those men who set off from isolated hardscrabble in Arden and Henderson and set off to see the world, not having any idea what they were heading into until they got there, he began to do research.
“I also knew that the people in the next generation, the last generation who remember who these people were and what they were like, are getting on and if their memories are not recorded in some way, those memories will disappear pretty soon,” he said, when interviewed this week with Rhonda Noble at the Frontenac News office.
Malcolm is no stranger to the Frontenac News. He has been talking with us about this project, and others, on a regular basis for a couple of years.
Once he knew he wanted to collect the stories of the men whose names were on the Cenotaph, he began to reach out, through word of mouth, notices in the paper, and through the Arden Legion, for information. Pretty soon the scope of his inquiry expanded to include the names on the Cenotaph in Mountain Grove because he realised the two communities were inextricably linked. Later, it expanded to people who are connected to long time Arden residents, even those who arrived after 1918.
In the end, with one exception, he found out something about every name on the list, save one, J. Dawson-Mountain Grove.
There are 34 names on the Arden Cenotaph and 32 in Mountain Grove.
“There are two or three duplications,” said Malcolm, “and with all the other names people brought forward to us the book has 101 written entries, and 127 photos and documents. But try as we did, no matter where we looked, all we know about J.Dawson is his last name and first initial, nothing else.”
Malcolm decided that the best thing for this project was to produce it in booklet form for the descendants of the men and anyone else who is interested in the history of Kennebec and Olden townships and how it was changed by a generation of men, most of whom were volunteers, who left and either came back profoundly changed, sometimes physically and sometimes psychologically, or who never came back at all.
His only problem was that, although he knew we could print the booklet for him and that he could convince local businesses to support it so that he could sell copies for $10 without being out of pocket, he had not computer skills. None at all.
That’s where his friend Rhonda Noble came in.
“I was ready for a project,” Rhonda said, although she did not necessarily know how big an effort Malcolm was signing her up for. Rhonda typed and proofread and laid out the entire book, 250 or so entries.
The result is a 70 page book, with original documentation and anecdotal memories from descendants. Of the men in the book, 12 died before returning from the war, and many others came back debilitated in some way. Each of the items in the book paints a distinctive picture of the past. This is apparent just by flipping to any page in the book, at random. For example, there is John Monds on page 35. He was born in 1896, was 19 when he enlisted on December 8, 1916. He had a dark complexion, brown eyes and dark hair. He sailed to England on September 25, 1916, fought at Vimy Ridge and died on April 11, 2017.
Rockwell Newton, who was about 23 when he joined the army in 1918, made it to England within 6 weeks of enlisting and arrived in France just 5 weeks before the end of the war. He got back to Canada, uninjured as far as we know, on May 19/1919. His life ended in tragedy however, as he died in 1931 in a truck/train accident at Arden that also claimed one of his brothers, Freeman.
Virtually every entry in the book manages to tell a compelling story, even those that have only the bare minimum of information available.
Now that this project is over, Malcolm is planning the next one.
“We thought of World WarII but not only would it be a huge project, we are also not able to use the archives because the records will be sealed for another 20 years, and without the archives we would not have been able to do this book,” said Malcolm.
“Maybe, and I haven’t told Rhonda about this because it is a new idea, we should do all of Frontenac County,” he said.
Rhonda did not respond.
The book is available between 2 and 4pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Arden Legion.