Branching Out 1978

Autumn 1978

Grand River Branch

The Grand River Branch opened its 1978 season on Sunday March 19 at the First United Church, Waterloo.  Highlight of the meeting was the showing of the film: Canada and the American Revolution (1763 – 1783).  The film showed the dramatic and fateful divergence between the ambitions of the American Revolutionaries and the interests of the Canadian groups along the St. Lawrence.  The flames of hostile rebellion spread northward and Canada resisted the encroachment.  A social hour was held at the conclusion of the meeting.

On Sunday, April 16, the Branch was honoured by the visit of the Dominion President, Mr. Stuart D. Gilmor.  The Dominion President addressed the members on the subject “Unity of Canada”.  Refreshments and conversation concluded the meeting.

The May meeting was held in Brantford at the Bradon Public Library on St, Paul Street on the 28th.  The guest speaker was Joyce Beaton, editor and publisher of the “Early Canadian Life”.  This monthly tabloid is one of Canada’s finest historical publications.  The editor told of the trials and tribulations in starting and producing the publication.  The members then adjourned for refreshments.

It was decided by the membership to continue our monthly meetings during the summer.  The first summer activity was held in Simcoe at the Eva Brook Donly Museum.  This museum contains one of Ontario’s most extensive and best organized collections of local history archival material.  Many tens of thousands of family records are typed and indexed for the use of genealogy ‘buffs’.  An address was given by the curator, Mr. William Yeager.  The members were then taken on a historical walking tour of Simcoe.  A picnic lunch was held in beautiful Simcoe Park to close the day’s activities.

On Sunday afternoon, July 16, the Grand River Branch of the U.E.L. gathered for a beautiful summer outing in Woodstock at the historic home of the Misses Louise and Margaret Hill.  A large number of members and guests attended, representing Brantford, Collingwood, Guelph, Kitchener, Paris, Simcoe, Stratford, Waterloo and of course, Woodstock.  the meeting was held on the north lawn amid well tended flowers, shrubs and trees.  After the brief business meeting, the president Mr. Robert Burns, introduced the speaker, Miss Louise Hill, who is a well known local genealogist and historian.  She graciously thanked all for being their guests and then told in some detail the story of the homestead.  The Hill family has lived here for some six generations; the house is the oldest in the Woodstock area and has been recognized publicly as such by the bronze plaque it bears beside the front door, set there in 1975 by the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce and the local historical association.  Miss Hill related the arrival of their ancestor (Perry) in the area, his marriage to a local girl, and finally the story of the site of the house itself on its 400 acre farm.  The knoll where the house stands today is now less steep and its large trees are fewer, but it still shows a thriving grove of the original rare, black walnuts.  Long since, however, most of its farmlands have vanished under modern Woodstock and its environs.  Standing today somewhat below the modern city centre, the poperty suffers from the ever-increasing and obvious encroachment of mill, streets, railway, parkland and cottages.  Louise recalled how numerous visitors over the years, from as far away as Texas, have visited them in search of genealogical data.  they have in their possession an extraordinarily large and valuable collection of public documents and private records which, they hope, will some day become the nucleus of a district archive (already the collection and Louise herself are recognized as a veritable fountainhead of Ontario history).

President Burns, pleased by the important and thoroughly delightful address, complimented the speaker on her remarkable memory and, on behalf of the Branch, presented her and her sister, Margaret, with two U.E.L. rosebushes.

The two hostesses, known also as providers of bountiful repasts, included, among other treats for this occasion, various cheeses and black raspberries from the garden.  Margaret Hill, Wilma and Cathy Burns presided at the tea table.  Meanwhile, the guests had ample opportunity to ramble at will over the still unbelievable spacious lawns and gardens and to take note of rare flowers and shrubs that have, in some cases, grown there continuously during the old family’s occupancy.  Hill hospitality, personal, warm and genuine, is always coloured by Ontario’s early history, and their home is a living museum of valuable antiquities.  All present agreed the occasion was unique and one to treasure in the memory.

The Branch’s October meeting will also be held in Woodstock when Branch Vice-President, the Reverend Edward McCrea, and Miss Ellie McCrea will be hosts.

The third summer activity was held in Guelph on Sunday, August 20.  The itinerary consisted of a tour of the Guelph Civic Museum.  A sight and sound presentation included highlights of the life of Edward Johnson, one of Guelph’s most famous citizens.  A visitation to the birthplace of Colonel John McCare followed.  Colonel McCare is most remembered as the author of the immortal poem, “In Flanders Fields the Poppies Grow”.  The home has been restored to the 1875-1890 period.  the members moved on to Riverside Park to see the famous “Floral Clock” and a model of John Galt’s house and garden.  A picnic lunch in the park concluded the meeting.

Sunday, September 17, 1978 opened the fall season for the Grand River Branch.  The meeting was held at the Brant County Museum.  The special guest was Mr. Arnold General, a member of the Six Nations.  A question and answer period on Six Nations culture was the format of the meeting.  Miss Helen Howell was moderator and Mr. general answered all questions from the floor.  The social hour was held at the end of the meeting.

Miss Cathy J. Burns, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Burns, Kitchener, Ontario received her Honours B.A. in Geography at the Convocation of Wilfred Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario on May 28, 1978. She received a Wilfred Laurier University scholarship and an Ontario Graduate scholarship towards her Masters degree.  She received a Gold Medal for the highest standing in Geography and was named to the Dean’s Honour Roll.

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