Branching Out 1981

Autumn 1981

U.E.L. Convention    May 28-20, 1982    Waterloo, Ontario

Plan to attend the Annual Convention of the U.E.L. Association of Canada on May 28-20, 1982, in Waterloo, Ontario – hosted by the Grand River Branch.  It will be held at Wilfred Laurier University and all members and friends will be most welcome.  Registration will commence Friday afternoon, May 28, with a wine and cheese party in the evening.

Saturday, May 29, for those not attending the Annual Meeting there are historical sites of interest; such as the boyhood home of William Lyon MacKenzie King; the Joseph Schneider House; Doon Pioneer Village; the new Centre In The Square and Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery; also the old fashioned country Waterloo Market; and the Farmers’ Market, Kitchener.

Sunday, May 30 – there will be a conducted bus tour through Mennonite Country.

More information will follow.  Remember the dates.  Mark them on your calendar now.

Mrs. Doris Marcellus is the Grand River president. 

Grand River Branch   –   Tour of Massachusetts and Connecticut

The Grand River Branch, roughly covering an area from Georgian Bay to Lake Erie between London and Hamilton arranged a nine day bus tour of the American Revolution landmarks.  Commencing on September 19, 1981, forty-one members and friends, including some 37 repeaters from our 1979 tour of the Mohawk Valley and 1980 tour of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, boarded the bus in Waterloo, Brantford and Waterford for Massachusetts and Connecticut.

The first over-night stop, some 437 miles distance, was Albany, New York.  The detailed day-sheets, composed by member Glen Bell, reminded all of what our first trip had included and she pointed out en route the Palatine Church, shining far away in its white paint, on the other side of the river.  Next day, the Bennington museum and nearby local memorials were our first stop.  Throughout the tour, miniature topical history lectures were given by Marion MacLeod (Toronto), well known to the group for her historical information.  In the early afternoon of Day Two, we crossed the Green Mountains, stopping at Hog-Back lookout to enjoy the fresh autumn colour of the Valleys below.  Then, south of Brattleboro, we made for Springfield, Massachusetts, where today stands a handsome monument of one Deacon Samuel Chapin, who in the 17th Century helped found that city.  Branch members Ruth (Chapin) Gould and Eleanor Chapin number among the deacon’s descendants and they posed below the statue for many a snapshot.  Our hotel for nights two and three was in Hartford, Connecticut, a city famed for, among other things, its genealogical archives.  Some stayed here to research, others chose the side-trip to New Haven and Mystic.  In the former, we visited the famous New Haven Green and toured the historic Yale campus on foot, led by a humorous sophomore guide who was female, black, and a philosophy major.  In herself, she proved the very significant 20th Century advances on the venerable campus of Yale.  Mystic, an extensive open-air, seaport museum, found our crowd scattered among restored houses and stores, wharves and fishing boats.  On day four we again travelled south east of Hartford to pass through New London of Benedict Arnold fame (in 1781) and visit the home of Mark Twain where he composed (between 1874 and 1891) most of his best literary works.  Then we took off for Rhode island and Newport (established 1639) where we drove among the exceedingly grand homes of the seafront.  That night’s stop was again in Massachusetts, at Plymouth founded in 1620.  The old city offers history ‘buffs’ a multitude of rich experiences e.g. the replica of the Mayflower, the traditional Plymouth Rock, copies of the earliest European houses of 1620 and best of all the Plymouth Plantation (of 1627) surely one of the finest outdoor working museums anywhere.  Later, in the day we visited the Cranberry World Visitors’ Centre in Plymouth and sampled their tasty wares!  Then en route to our Concord stop for the next two nights, we visited the statue of the Minute-Man where the renowned shot which rang around the world was fired.  In the Concord-Boston area, we spent some time on the Harvard University campus, and then visited Boston, touring its older streets en route to the Old North Church (1723) of Paul Revere fame, and the venerable Old Ironsides anchored in the harbour.  There followed visits to Lexington and its statue of the Minute-Man and later to Salem, famous for its Witches’ House, and the House of Seven Gables of Nathaniel Hawthorne fame.  The former was special interest to Corwin descendants in our group, Netta Brandon and Doris Hoskins.  Next day, we were in Greenfield, from which we visited Deerfield and its outdoor museum of 18th Century houses.  Here a most inviting fall craftshow proved a temptation to many.

On the way home, our route lay along the historic Mohawk Trail, which leads from central Massachusetts to New York’s Finger Lakes.  It was America’s first toll-free road of 1786.  Our bus travelled beside the beautifully still Deerfield River with its perfect reflections, into the city of Shelburne whose memorial Bridge of Flowers continued to show its bright, late summer colours.

And our group of Central Ontarians was pleased also to visit briefly the fine statue to the Mohawks titled “Hail to the sunrise”.  Thereafter, our route lay through the Berkshires and into the Hancock Shaker village, where we were glad to pick up information about this splinter Quaker sect and experience a little of their powerful songs and dances as represented in the Sunday Meeting House by our charming guide.

This, our third Branch bus-tour resulted in much good fellowship and learning (or re-learning) of the history of that period whence the Loyalist movement emerged.  All realize the debt to our two competent escort-guides.

Finally, we must report there were genealogical discoveries by certain of our group en route connected with the Loyalist (and late Loyalist) names of Choate, Corwin, Culver, Colver, Hixon, Jerome, Merriman, Pettit and Winthrope.

Grand River Branch

Since the Grand River Branch recesses from December to February annually, a new series of meetings began March 15, and continued monthly through June.  In March we met in Waterloo to hear a fine informal talk by Mr. Alan Beuhler of Hespeler.  Mr. Beuhler has spent his career in the Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge area.  During this autumn he will publish an authoritative Pennsylvania-Deutsch dictionary on words and phrases of the local German dialect.  He spoke to the Branch on “The Origins of the Pennsylvania Dutch and their language” [Note: Grand River Branch members were much saddened in May to learn of Mr. Beuhler’s sudden death.]

The April meeting took place as usual in Brantford at the Brant County Museum.  Mr. Carl Thorpe was present to summarize the Department’s interest in financially assisting Ontario branches in their Bicentennial celebrations.  He then solicited suggestions from the group: the result was a promise by Mr. Thorpe to meet again with the Branch in June.  Mr. David Faux, an authority on many aspects of local Canadian lore, spoke on: “Abandoned Pioneer Cemeteries”.  Mr. Faux has himself tried to redeem and preserve the Young-Nelles cemetery of about 1790, located in the Cayuga district.  This cemetery has almost completely vanished, being now a part of a cornfield.  The gravesite is without access and markers.  the speaker’s address was thought provoking and challenging.  Mr. Faux is to be commended for his persistence in the face of much discouragement.

The Branch’s Guelph members played host at the May meeting held in Harcourt United Church.  Dr. Helen Dow, a member of the Fine Arts Faculty of the University of Guelph, an expert in Medieval architecture, spoke on the development of the ancient European house-barn structure up to the emergence of the Gothic cathedral.  On this continent in Ontario artistic echoes of it still remain in the well-known peaked-roof farm-barn.  Dr. Dow’s presentation stimulated interesting comments.

On June 14, the Branch met in Waterford at the invitation of the local Historical Society, at the lovely 1847-48 home of Jean and Fred Kerr, 150 Main Street South.  The brief business session conducted by President Doris Marcellus, included a discussion of Branch plans for meetings from July to October, and a June Newsletter.  Mrs. Glen Bell then gave further details on the Branch tour, Massachusetts and Connecticut, September 19th-27th.  The Grand River Branch is to be congratulated on having had the largest delegation at the Annual Convention in Ottawa.  Members were reminded that they are to host the 1982 convention in Waterloo on May 29.

At the end of the business session, there followed a real surprise for the Branch.  Arrangements had previously been made locally for LACAC representatives and municipal officials in mid afternoon to unveil a historical plaque affixed to the Kerr residence.  A few timely, brief speeches preceded the unveiling as a sizable crowd of Historical Society members, friends from the town and U.E.L.’s gathered on the lawn below the handsome, spacious old house.  Afterwards, tours were conducted to see the collection of valuable memorabilia of the rooms.  This enjoyable afternoon was “topped off” by a strawberry social!

The July Branch meeting took the form of an outing to the village of Norwich where members and friends met and toured the fine complex of historical buildings on Dover Street just north of Norwich.  These included the Archives, the Museum, and the Barn.  Local members of the historical Association served as guides.

A business meeting of the Branch preceded the tour and picnic.  Then a brief address was given by Mr. Lorne Ste. Croix of the Provincial Department of Recreation and Culture.  Several very suitable Bicentennial projects for the Branch were suggested by those present; it was agreed that a committee would be struck to examine the varied suggestions and that a report would be brought back within the next year.  Mr. Ste. Croix encouraged the Branch, as Mr. Thorpe had done, to keep in mind the specific ways in which the Provincial Department can financially assist in Bicentennial projects of branches.  During the rest of the business period Mrs. Glen Bell outlined in detail the plans for the September tour of Massachusetts and Connecticut and reminded members of the regular meeting on September 13 in Brantford.


Miss Margaret Hill, a valued member of the Grand River Branch and a scion of a family very closely connected with the history of the city of Woodstock, Ontario, died recently.  Her sister, Louise, and she occupied the family home at 130 Finkle Street and received their friends and other callers with great hospitality.  For many years, the annual July picnic of the Grand River Branch was held in their extensive garden.  Miss Margaret Hill had a long active career as a dietitian and served in Montreal, Guelph, Kitchener and in the United States.  All those who knew her are saddened by the news of her death, and offer sympathy to her sister, Louise, and other members of the Hill family.

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