The North Grenville Historical Society [NGHS] held an Open House at the Town Hall on Water Street in Kemptville last Saturday to show friends and neighbours what they’ve been doing over the past years. In spite of the threatening weather, the event was very well attended indeed, which came as a happy surprise to the NGHS Board and volunteers.
In a very rare opportunity, visitors could not only view displays and presentations on the ground floor, the Court and offices section of the building, but could also go upstairs to see the NG Archives, the collections of documents, photographs, maps, books, newspapers, and so many other artefacts that make up the holdings of the Society.
From 10 am until late afternoon, visitors could examine displays ranging from the history of the one-room schools that educated local children until 1965, as well as environmental studies prepared by Dr. Fred Schueler and Aleta Karstad. A book table was filled with the many publications of the NGHS, the concrete result of years of collecting, analysis and research that has been undertaken by Society members reaching back when it was the Kemptville and District Historical Society.
Dr. David Shanahan gave two short talks about the latest of his books on local history, “Places in the Past”, and the gathering heard from Mayor Nancy Peckford, who spoke about the on-going talks between the municipality and the NGHS concerning the future of the building itself. The members of the Society were very impressed by her willingness to speak honestly about the potential pros and cons of keeping the old Town Hall in good condition and use, given that it is now only one of three heritage buildings actually owned by the Municipality of North Grenville. The other two are the Oxford-on-Rideau Township Hall and the Maplwood School, both in Oxford Mills.
The public support shown by the community to the NGHS, not least of which shown by the great turn-out on Saturday, underscores the importance of having our history and heritage preserved and maintained by the Society and its members. The popularity of the Society’s public meetings, the local history articles in this newspaper, and the support given by the current Mayor and Council, have all encouraged the NGHS to work at improving the professionalism of their work and to ensure the long-term survival and expansion of the North Grenville Archives. The Society looks to the past and plans for the future, recording our stories for our children’s children.