Here we are with a few good blasts of winter under our belt and continuing cold weather. Some of you may already be visiting a warmer clime at the moment but we hope to see you sometime in the New Year. In the meantime we will continue on with our programme for 2015. Unfortunately we ran into a few snags in the fall. Our September meeting with “Captain” Eric Conroy of the SS Keewatin made for wonderful entertainment as he came with plenty of artifacts, personal reminiscences and professional videos. It is regrettable that only 15 people turned up, possibly because the Barrie Examiner failed to include our notice of the meeting.
We had more luck with the October meeting, with 48 in attendance, when John Merritt, the winner of the Andrew Hunter Prize, spoke to us about his research on the Oro Black Settlement and the role of African-Canadians, in general, in the settlement of Simcoe County. He stressed how little is known about the few blacks who came into this area and we were pleased to hear that he is doing further graduate research on the same subject.
We were all set for a great evening in November with Lori Oschefski and Sandra Joyce on the British Home Children but the first massive snowstorm of the winter prevented all but 12 people from turning up. It is such a marvellous story that we have engaged Lori to speak to us again on Tuesday March 24 at the Barrie Legion. She will be joined by Jayne Turvey, the author of Destined to Survive. This is one meeting you will not want to miss.
Our first meeting in the New Year, however, will be the grand unveiling of the restored portrait of Sir James Gowan, the first judge of Simcoe County, 1843-1883. Gowan was also a major contributor to the establishment of the legal system of Ontario and Canada and remained a resident of Barrie until his death in 1909. This very large and impressive painting will be rehung eventually in the Barrie courthouse. This has been a long project for the Barrie Historical Association that entailed a great deal of fund raising, but it has now been brought to a successful conclusion. Appropriate dignitaries have been invited to this event so please come out to celebrate this achievement with us.
In 2015 we will also hold a joint meeting with the Innisfil Historical Society. Noted author Larry Cotton will be speaking on the subject of his latest book, 100 Taverns in 100 Miles: Toronto to Penetanguishene, at the Innisfil Town Hall on SATURDAY April 18 at 2 pm. These afternoon meetings are always pleasant and at least you won’t have to drive at night.
And finally, the Annual General Meeting and dinner will be held at the United Church in Midhurst the same as last year. The ladies put on an excellent dinner at a very reasonable cost. The date in May will be posted in the Barrie Examiner which is also posted online. The members of the Executive look forward to seeing you in 2015!
SOS SOS SOS MEMBERSHIPS
Unfortunately our membership has been dwindling every year and we are in danger of going extinct both financially and in terms of personnel. Recently, I visited the BHA archives at City Hall and was amazed at the amount of material, records, photos and equipment stored there. It revealed a vibrant organization, starting in the 1990s, that carried out many worthwhile projects. Since then a good number of these members have passed on with relatively few new members joining the organization. Others are of an advancing age where active participation is difficult, but too many seem to have drifted away which is a pity for if ever we needed to speak up on behalf of the preservation of the history and heritage of Barrie that time is now. Time and again we are seeing our precious past forgotten, obliterated or paved over. We have a few who are willing to act as your Executive but it is essential to show that we represent a viable organization. Memberships can still be renewed for only $10 by sending it to Jim Willis at 94 Lillian Cresc. Barrie ON L4N 5H7 or by Paypal on the BHA website or at any of our meetings. The membership year runs from September to the AGM in the following May. If you are unsure if you have renewed your membership for the current year please send me a return email or phone me at 705-728-3825 and I will let you know.
Further to the above appeal, we are sending this newsletter to all former members to consider rejoining us even if you don’t or can’t attend meetings. Given the rate of development in Barrie, with little thought for the history of the City, it is essential that someone speaks up in this regard.
We need your support!
Future Project If the organization remains viable the Executive is thinking of making a major push regarding a museum in the restored Allandale station. The City seems to have resolved its legal problems with respect to the station but has apparently had no luck in selling off several chunks of the station land nor in finding suitable tenants. In the meantime the window of opportunity awaits us. There are several avenues that can be pursued but it will take considerable effort on the part of your Executive to convince the town fathers that the restored station is worthy of much more than a Tim |Horton’s or some other mundane commercial establishment. We need your support.