Local Historian and North Grenville Times co-owner and former editor Dr. David Shanahan has been honoured with an accolade from the North Grenville Historical Society. David was named the Society’s Historian Emeritus last week, after decades of involvement with the NGHS. 

The job description of David’s new position reads:

“As an honour to an individual(s) who had (have) served for many years in a variety of positions with the North Grenville Historical Society (NGHS) and contributed through many publications based on research of the local history of North Grenville and Eastern Ontario, the position of Society Historian Emeritus is offered to such an individual by the NGHS by a motion of the Board of Directors of the Society.” The Emeritus position provides the holder with a position within the NGHS that “recognizes and celebrates the above accomplishment to members of the Society and the community of North Grenville”. 

Fittingly, perhaps, David was presented with the certificate confirming the Emeritus position at the NGHS Annual General Meeting, at which he gave a talk on “The Undiscovered Country”, a review of Crown-Indigenous relations since the Fifteenth  Century.

Society Past President Ken Mews, and current  President Karen Nickleson, spoke with the Times about David’s long tenure with the Society, and his accomplishments over the years. Ken explained that David has been involved with the society for decades. He agreed to take over as President many years ago when a group of mostly older women who were running the Society felt the task had become too much for them. “It was at a time when the Society was at a bit of an ebb that David stepped in and took over as Chair, and he remained Chair for 10 years,” Ken explained. 

David stepped back from the Society when his employment duties and commitments with the North Grenville Times became too much to manage along with NGHS duties. However, even when he had stepped back from the Society, David was still involved with local history through the publication of historical articles in the Times, and the Heritage magazine which was published last year to mark 230 years of Oxford-on-Rideau Township.

“There is no one who has contributed more to the local history of North Grenville,” Ken said of David. “We felt it was necessary to recognize his contribution, and also to not make excessive demands on his time.” David will give talks at Society public meetings, but will not be required to attend board meetings in his new role. His role is to give advice and consult on projects being undertaken by Society members. 

“David, at one time, was almost a one person show,” Karen added. “He had an office in the courthouse which he paid for, and David was paying the [phone] bills out of his own pocket.” She explained that, at that time, David was “carrying” the Society with only the help of a few volunteers. “David has been the constant over the years, keeping us afloat,” said Karen. “We would have sunk without his leadership.” Ken added that David has helped to advertise Society events using the NG Times.

In accepting the honour, David pointed out that, as always, we only stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before, referring to the long history of the NGHS and, before it, the Kemptville and District Historical Society.

Currently, David is working as the Director of Research for Nativelands Inc., an Indigenous organisation which funds and researches claims on behalf of Indigenous communities across Canada. 


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