President’s Report for 2019-2020

Our Glengarry History group was well-prepared with an inspiring array of diverse subjects to captivate a wide range of Glengarians and more.  Historian Robin Flockton set a high bar in leading off this term with a well-prepared revelation on “D.C. Cameron and the Gothic Line”.  Cameron was probably the best known and most decorated World War II Glengarry soldier whose prominence was significant in the Allied breakthrough up the Italian peninsula.  In the October gathering Allan MacDonald laid out the development details of the future home of the Glengarry Archives,  a major accomplishment coming to exciting realization.

The GH audience in November seemed flabbergasted to hear speaker, Mackie Robertson, tell about the extraordinary Roderick J McDonald  whose various family members’ achievements resonate throughout Glengarry and on a world scale.  On into December and  Bernie MacCulloch challenged the capacity of the hall at the Church-on-the-Hill as the numbers swelled to join his historical tour of Glen Roy.  Our Speakers series was cooking.  Spirits would remain high through the Christmas season and on to the New Year.

Alas! The disappointment of having had to cancel Robert MacPherson’s anticipated look at the “Historical Advances in Glengarry Farm Implements” for an early January run at year 2020 was alleviated by the news that the resilient Robert would be willing to re-schedule his talk to our next series.  We will take it!   It was well worth the effort for the stalwart souls who braved the stormy February weather to hear Dane Lanken introduce to us a former colleague.  Author, John Kalbfleisch and his wife had courageously driven from Perth to give us some insight into the making of his enthralling novel “A Stain Upon the Land” which takes place in Montreal and also partially in Glengarry.                                                       

            For our March event Suzanne Bujold took Glengarrians through a somewhat emotionally-charged rendition of the World War II Hong Kong POW calamity of which her father and his friends were victims.  There has been relatively little focus on this aspect of the war.  The unconscionable decision by the Canadian government of the day to send this force of  the Royal Rifles of Canada and the Winnipeg Grenadiers,  ill-equipped and lacking supplies and ammunition  as “sacrificial lambs” in a bluff tactic  situation where there was no possibility of victory, no possibility of relief, or evacuation.  These, approximately 2000 unfortunate young men, were the first Canadian soldiers in WW II to engage the enemy in battle and the last to be released from a most horrible imprisonment of torture, murder, starvation, and humiliating abuse.

The lockdown as of March 12 ended our season forcing cancellation of the event scheduled for April with a planned presentation by Elizabeth MacGillivray and ChloeAnn Baker about the “Memories of Our Grandfathers, Glengarry Country Doctors”.   Again the hope is to have this talk re-scheduled for the next term.

The May 7 Annual General Meeting could also not be held as expected.

The Glengarry History Board of Directors was happily enriched by the addition of Elizabeth MacGillivray and Milo Smith this past term.  At our August, 2019 Board meeting former GH president, Robin Flockton, as our attending guest and Archives representative, updated us on the history of the new archives building and the developing project.  Mr. Flockton reminded the GH board that the Glengarry Archives is looking for support from Glengarry History;  this was happily responded to at our December meeting when we passed a motion to donate $5,000.  Mr. Flockton also proposed that Glengarry History (in collaboration with the Alexandria Legion and Township of North Glengarry) erect three Heritage signs in honour of Lieutenant Colonel A G F (George Sandfield) Macdonald.  One sign is to be placed in front of Garry Fen, home of Lt Col A G F Macdonald, the second at the Armoury,  the construction of which was the result of his efforts,  and the third  sign would be on the land    – donated by Lt Col Macdonald – upon which stands the Glengarry Cenotaph, or Soldiers Memorial.  The total cost of this project, expected to total $7,000, is to be borne in equal parts by the three participating parties making Glengarry History’s share come in at approximately $2,400.  The board deems this to be a very worthwhile contribution and is most appreciative to Mr. Flockton for having initiated and made all the arrangements pertaining to this venture.  Some delay due to the work stoppage at the Merrickville Alloy Foundry because of the Covid-19 virus will hopefully be only a minor setback.

Our October board meeting featured another former GH president, Allan Macdonell, who, during his time as GH president, “quarterbacked” the original publishing of the Dictionary of Glengarry Biography by Royce MacGillivray.  Mr. Macdonell’s guiding advice was useful in the decision that our GH Board took to again this year  print another 50 copies at a total cost of $2,443.   Thanks to his arrangements and his personal delivery all the new copies were in our hands by November and are available for sale at $95.  Mr. Macdonell also facilitated the withdrawal of the 135 Disnat/Enbridge shares at $45 per share to be converted to cash.  This having been necessitated by his signing authority when these shares were originally invested during his tenure at the helm of GH.  The cash is needed for some of our operating endeavors.

In December we learned of Robin Flockton’s resignation from the Archives Board. Jeff Manley, who has been our recording secretary, took on the task of finding someone to act as the GH board’s representative at the Archives.  After having contacted several possible candidates Jeff returned to the February Board meeting with two names, one of which was Warren MacIntosh who received unanimous approval.  Also at the February Board meeting Jeff once again agreed to work on the Nominating Committee for board members during the forthcoming term of 2020-2021.  Jeff returned with two candidates: David McPherson and David Joseph both of whom received full approval by the present Glengarry History Board via email survey.

Colleen Shepherd has diligently done her Treasurer duties in presenting her Financial Statement for 2019.  This was circulated on-line to all of the eleven GH Board members and of the ten respondents all approved.

I wish to thank all of the Board members for their very cooperative support and useful input throughout the past term.  It has also been encouraging to have seen the positive interest and turnout at our monthly gatherings four of which were held at the Sandfield Centre and two at the Church-on-the-Hill……….until the Covid-19 put a stop to our proceedings !

Looking forward, there are some projections afoot for 2020-21 such as David Rayside’s proposal to speak in September (Edith Rayside), and, as mentioned above the undelivered talks from this past term which we very much hope to hear. Moreover, Mackie has already perked our interest in the Stackhouse Mills……..and, perhaps some of you out there have suggestions……….

It seems not possible to lay down any specific plannings for 2020-21 at this time, but whenever we see our way clear we will move forward.  

Take care (in the real sense of the expression).   We wish to see all well and soon!

Richard Bleile

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