Monthly Archives: December 2012

Volunteering at the Oxford County Archives 2

In the time since my last post, I entered approximately 800 more Probates of Will, Deeds of Separation and Power of Attorney into the database and finished the top drawer of the filing cabinet. The Archivist was very pleased and decided that I should get to do something a little more interesting than solely data entry. She and the Assistant Archivist developed an educational program that provides students with a take home brochure containing not only information about the Archives themselves but also about a specific historical topic. The four that I was able to take a look at covered the topics of the Springbank Snow Countess, Isabelle Gunn, James William Faulkner and the Thomas Organ Company. The brochures contain information concerning the topic as well as a small envelope containing copies of primary documents that allow the students to get a sense of the time period and the topic they are researching. The teachers are also provided with a lesson plan which gives the students the opportunity to work together and answer questions because there are different primary documents in each of the envelopes. I have started researching an extremely interesting woman from Eastwood, Ontario most well known as Cassie Chadwick. She was born Elizabeth Bigley, but changed her name multiple times throughout her lifetime. She was a con woman born in 1857 and began her life of crime at age 13. Chadwick scammed bank officials, hotels, and the men she married in order to live the extravagant life she so desperately wanted. She was quite creative and had a mind that I don’t know if anyone could replicate today. Just researching her for the short time I have so far I have learned so much and been amazed by how she accomplished so much in her short 50 years being alive. Having the opportunity to use my research skills to increase awareness of this incredible woman and educate young people is very exciting. This not only increases my research skills but it allows me increase my ability to create age appropriate lesson plans that I will be able to apply to teaching further down the road in my career. For a short overview of Cassie Chadwick’s life of crime you can visit this site:


Cassie Chadwick


Springbank Snow Countess


Volunteering at the Oxford County Archives

Due to my interest in the Public History Master’s Program at Western University, I decided to get some experience in an archive to give me a competitive edge. I emailed the Oxford Historical Society to ask if they had any volunteer opportunities available for the holidays. The Oxford Historical Society, Oxford Genealogical Society and the Oxford County Archives are now all under one roof at 82 Light Street, Court House Square, Woodstock, Ontario. This amalgamation of services allows easy accessibility to all services related to Oxford County history. The Archivist offered me a volunteer position for the holiday season. Last Friday was my first day at the archives. I got the opportunity to tour the facilities and see the vast number of resources that the three groups have in their space. They have a temperature controlled vault containing a lot of their collections and binders and binders of important people of Oxford. After my tour I was given the task of creating an index for a collection of Probate of Wills, Deeds of Separation and Letters of Administration from the early1930’s on. During my 8 hours at the archives I entered approximately 300 into the index and Monday morning I will be continuing the project. After I finished for the day, head Archivist showed me a deed for land near Woodstock from 1801 that the archives are in the process of purchasing. It was so interesting to be able to see and touch something from the area that dates back 211 years! Even parts of the wax seal are still intact and attached with the original ribbon. I will be volunteering for the next four weeks and I hope to learn lots of valuable information about possibly working in an archive in the future. I will provide updates on future projects during my volunteer position in the weeks to follow.


149th Founder’s Day

One of the events that I most look forward to during the school year is Founder’s Day celebrating the founding of Huron College in 1863. This year we celebrated the 149th Founder’s Day, kicking off a year of events celebrating 150 years of Huron College. The event began as it usually does, with alumni, Bishops, students, faculty and staff schmoozing in the Great Hall over free alcohol and snacks. This led to a big surprise that only the Principal seemed to know anything about. Dr. Trish Fulton, former acting Principal of Huron and Reverend Canon Bill Cliff, the Chaplain, were awarded Queen Elizabeth the II Diamond Jubilee Medals. Neither of them had any idea this was going to happen as the shock flooded over both of their faces as everyone in the room began to cheer. I think that this was an amazing thing to have happened in such an intimate setting. We were able to give the recipients hugs and congratulations as well as have a close look at the prestigious award. To find out more about the award or how you can nominate someone visit this website:
After the excitement settled down we were directed to the Kingsmill room for introductory remarks, toasts and Grace. All of which led to the serving of the very delicious beef tenderloin! Over good food and conversation the night wore on as it usually does with laughter and reminiscences. After dinner Dr. Douglas Leighton introduced two historians that enjoy dressing up in costume to perform re-enactments. The re-enactment planned for our viewing pleasure included Isaac Hellmuth and Benjamin Cronyn, dressed in typical 1860’s garb. The men were quite humorous in their retelling of the story of the founding of Huron College and the re-enactment was a welcome addition to the traditional Founder’s Day events.
Huron recognized a New Honorary Fellow, Ms. Roni Srdic, to complete the evening. The Right Reverend Dr. Robert F. Bennett said a blessing after which the room slowly began to empty. However, not before I was able to get a picture taken with Cronyn and Hellmuth.
Overall, great memories were shared and created during the 149th Founder’s Day celebration at Huron University College. Fingers crossed that recent alumni will receive an invitation to the 150th celebrations next year!