Every year, Ontario celebrates Heritage Day on the third Monday of February, and that entire week is dedicated to heritage of all kinds. This year, Heritage Week begins on Monday, February 15, and it will be marked by events across the province. This year, of course, most of those activities will be virtual, as we’ve (almost) come to expect. One day, in the not too distant future, we will be looking back on the Pandemic of 2020 with the same amazement as we remember the Spanish Influenza of 1919-1920, or even the Great Ice Storm of 1998.
But for us here in North Grenville, and across Eastern Ontario, 2021 marks another milestone in our shared story, one that will be marked throughout this year in the pages of the Times. On April 25, 1791, 230 years ago, Jesse Pennoyer, a young surveyor sent from Montreal, wrote in his Diary: “Made a Cabbin to secure the provisions, came down to the Point and began the Survey of the Township of Oxford”.
But it didn’t even start there. On January 26, the Surveyor General set out the work plan for the year, item sixth being: “To Survey and lay out a Township between the South and West Branches of the River Rideau to satisfy the Officers and others of Edwardsburg, Augusta and Elizabeth town who are desirous of Settling there”. On March 30, he and his team had “Set out for the River Rideau”, to begin the work of laying out the new Township. And it didn’t end there, either.
In March, a piece of legislation was introduced into the House of Commons in London designed to divide the Province of Quebec in British North America into two separate jurisdictions. The new, westerly section was to be called Upper Canada, the origin of the Province of Ontario. On June 19, the Act was given Royal Assent. As Jesse Pennoyer was laying out Oxford-on-Rideau, Upper Canada was being laid out in the Constitutional Act in London. This makes 2021 quite an historic year for all Ontario, but even more so for North Grenville, and we’ll be publishing a series of articles throughout the year on various aspects of that story.
Heritage means our buildings, our origins, our stories, our songs and everything that goes into making us the community we are. In next week’s special Heritage issue, we’ll celebrate some of the aspects of that heritage, just a few items out of the myriad strands that go to make up the tapestry of our times.