A time for remembering
Close to 80 people attended the CDHS 35th anniversary dinner held on Oct. 26 at the Chesterville Legion. Pictured, from the left, front Row: CDHS president Ashley Harper, CDHS vice president Caroline Roberts, CDHS secretary Kim McInnis; back row: CDHS treasurer Verne McMillan, North Dundas councillor Gary Annable, North Dundas Mayor Tony Fraser and North Dundas councillor John Thompson. Thompson Goddard photo

CHESTERVILLE – It was an event 35 years in the making, with the Chesterville and District Historical Society celebrating the founding of the society in 1983 with a dinner at the Chesterville Legion on Sat., Oct. 26.

Included in the approximately 80 guests at the event was founding member Jack Durant and Grace McCauley, wife of John McCauley, who with Durant, Robert Bennett and Jack Cross comprised the committee, which started the road to the creation of the CDHS. After an introduction by Gail Parker of the CDHS, Grace explained how she and her husband went to Prescott to learn how to start a museum before thanking the society for their invitation to the event. 

Parker then introduced Jack Durant as the Winchester Township representative on the committee, which led to the formation of the CDHS. Durant, surrounded by many family members and friends, expressed his appreciation for the work done over the past 35 years by society members and mentioned how there is a need for more space to display the artifacts associated with our local history.

Following Durant’s address, Spin In organizer Nancy McMillan, provided a brief history of the Spin In, which has been held in February since 1999. McMillan explained how the event was started in 1999 by CDHS member Margot Dixon and was originally held in the Heritage Centre, moving first to the Nelson Laprade Centre and then to its present location in the Chesterville Legion, as the event continued to grow over the years. McMillan mentioned in 2019 that there were 60 plus spinners and knitters at the day long event as well as several vendors and a good turnout of interested spectators. She continued that the event is designed to promote spinning and knitting as well as heritage breeds and local fibre production. 

CDHS president, Ashley Harper, concluded the presentations at the event with a brief history of the CDHS. She explained that in 1983, Rotarian Fred Cass, who was looking for a place to store decades of Rotary bulletins, approached the Rotary Club of Chesterville for assistance. Subsequently the Chesterville Heritage Committee was formed to investigate this, and a few months later the Chesterville & District Historical Society was formed with approximately 20 people joining the organization. The Chesterville Heritage Centre, located in a building that was built in 1867, has served the community as a school, a church, a police station, a fire station and the Winchester Township Hall. The CHC now serves its community as a location for artifacts to be stored and accessed by interested individuals. Harper explained the collection is being digitalized and accessioned, before commenting how individually the artifacts tell the story of a family, but together they tell the story of a community.   

Lost Villages Historical Society president, Jim Brownell, attended the event and commented to The Chesterville Record as the evening ended how it was “just wonderful to be here, celebrating a memorable year for the historical society. It was evident from Ashley’s speech that much has been done in the past as the Historical Society heads to the future.”

Harper expressed how she was “more than pleased” with the event, which featured a silent auction containing many donations from a community that truly cares about its history.