About the Society
A slate of officers was elected with Miss Alice Dresser as President and the Richmond County Historical Society was formed. Work proceeded on the publication of two volumes of the history of the county which appeared in 1966 and 1968.
Incorporated in 1962, the Society's aims are:
- To discover and rescue from the unsparing hand of time the records which yet remain of the earliest history of Canada;
- To preserve while in our power such documents as may be found amid the dust of yet unexplored depositories, and which may prove important to general history and to the particular history of this province, County of Richmond and adjacent areas.
In June, 1998, the archives were moved from the Museum to the Melbourne Township Town Hall (formerly the Upper Melbourne Town Hall) at 1257, route 243, Melbourne. The new Archives Center provides a larger space and year- round access to the holdings.
Special events at the museum and archives for the summer of 1999 included a celebration of Scots' heritage in the Richmond area. A special exhibit as a tribute to the Richmond County Women's Institute was assembled at the museum to mark its 75th anniversary.
New England Heritage in Richmond County and Vicinity was the theme for the year 2000. RCHS commemorated the legacy of the first settlers who came to Richmond County and vicinity about two hundred years ago. Special events were planned as well as displays and exhibitions. A bilingual 2001 calendar was published which celebrated the heritage of the New England pioneers. This calendar depicted local landmarks and a unique New England architectural influence which is captured in photographs and engravings.
In 2001, the Post World War Two Immigrants who had settled in the Richmond area were honoured at a tea which featured forty posters of family histories of the Dutch, Swiss, German, French, Italian and Eastern European immigrants who remain in the area. The theme for 2003 was the English presence in the Richmond area. See English Theme for details. In 2004, plans are being made to celebrate French Protestant and Huguenot heritage in the Richmond area.
In 2002, the heritage of the Irish people of Richmond County and vicinity was remembered with the highlighting of artifacts at the Museum of Irish origin. A display of Irish names gleaned from the 1851 census was displayed at the Museum. A cavalcade took place in which the country cemeteries in the Danville area were visited in search of Protestant Irish. Ian Smith acted as tour guide.
In 2004, French Protestant and Huguenot heritage in the Richmond area was commemorated. At the spring AGM, guest speaker Diane Perron recounted the Perron family's Huguenot ancestry in France and the Province of Quebec. Mr. René Paquin, guest speaker at the Harvest Luncheon spoke about Huguenot history in Europe and the New World. For more information about this topic, see the Links page.
In 2004-2005, the Museum underwent extensive renovations with the building of a new basement, new septic system, new roof and new verandahs. The executive of RCHS is grateful to Melbourne Township Mayor and Councilors, Hydro Quebec, the executors of the Marion Reed Kerr estate and the many members and friends of the Society for financial contributions, building materials and labour.
Several anniversaries were commemorated in 2005. 150th anniversaries were celebrated by the Townships of Melbourne, Cleveland and Ulverton.
In 2006, the summer season at the Museum/Archives involved a review of the early Protestant schools in Richmond County and vicinity. A list of the names of the early schools was compiled, a photo exhibition of schools in Richmond and Drummond Counties was mounted at the museum and the AGM was held at the Valleyview Hall (Healy School House). Roderick McLeod, McGill University (A Meeting of the People. School Boards and Protestant Communities in Quebec, 1801-1998) was the guest speaker at the AGM. In the autumn of 2006, RCHS joined with Richmond County Agricultural Society to celebrate its 150th anniversary.
In 2007, the town of Richmond commemorated its 125th anniversary of incorporation as a town. A special 16 month calendar (2007-2008) was printed to mark Richmond’s rail history and to show exceptional views of vintage Main Street.
In 2008, the theme for the summer season was Early Industry and Commerce in Richmond County. Artifacts pertaining to early industry were highlighted at the Museum. A photo display was prepared and exhibited at the Richmond Hobby Show in the fall as well as during the Museum season.
In 2009, the Celtic heritage of the Scots, Irish and Welsh settlers in Richmond
County and vicinity was commemorated in 2009. At the Museum, photo displays, artifacts
from families of Celtic origins were exhibited, and a tour of a slate quarry in
the Asbestos area (Slatington) took place late in the summer. In the afternoon,
the society enjoyed a visit the Mineralogy Museum in Asbestos hosted by John Millen.
The society’s website (1998) was updated complete with a new look and a new address: richmondcountyhistoricalsociety.com.
2010 RCHS 150th Anniversary Danville Photo Exhibit
The McCallum Collection of Danville and adjacent area photos (early to mid-1900’s) was presented to Richmond County Historical Society in 1967 by Mr. H. McCallum of Sherbrooke. Parts of this collection were exhibited at the Museum in the summer of 2010 and taken to Townshippers’ Day in Danville later in September. 2010.
2010, F. S. Coburn celebrated in Melbourne
2010 was the fiftieth anniversary of the death of the celebrated Canadian artist, Frederick Simpson Coburn. The MRC of Val St. Francois and Melbourne Township went to great lengths to honour his legacy with the naming of the `new` bridge at the north end of the Melbourne, creating a park at the south end of the village complete with a tableau representative of his work and helping to fund Richmond County Historical Society`s drama Café and Coburn. The drama written and produced by Nick Fonda, President of the Society, was a serious depiction of the artist`s life and work in Melbourne, New York, Europe with original music written and performed by Francine Beaubien. A power point presentation of Coburn`s life and paintings was interwoven into the production. The Upper Melbourne Town Hall was filled to capacity for each the three nights` performances.
2011 Church Calendar, Cavalcade along the Craig Road to the Morrin Centre in Quebec City
In 2011, the Society produced a calendar which celebrated many churches of the area. Roman Catholic and Protestant churches of Richmond, Melbourne Windsor, Danville, Ulverton, South Durham and many more areas were depicted in the 16-month bilingual calendar. A cavalcade to Quebec City following the Old Craig Road was accomplished in early June.
2012: 50th anniversary celebrations of Richmond County Historical Society
Several events and activities were planned to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Society. These included a monthly heritage photo depicting a seasonal or timely event in each area of Richmond County and vicinity and published in the local English and French press; supporting the MRC with information concerning the Two-Dollar Bill panel displayed at the Halte Routiere (Mcdonald’s Centre) from Exit 85 on Highway 55; a Time Vault to be opened in 2062 which accommodated more than 100 time capsules (purchased by interested parties) and buried in a concrete vault with a stylized 7 foot bronzed steel tree mounted on the cover, complete with leaves naming long-gone communities; and 28 heritage property certificates (century, sesquicentennial and bi-centennial) which were granted to land owners whose families had held their properties for several generations. This event took place at the Harvest Luncheon held at Le Temps des Cerises in Danville on October 28, 2012. The Harvest Luncheon was further enhanced by Isabelle Gosselin who provided an entertaining presentation, Les Contes Valeureux.
Rufus Wadleigh: Mr. Guy Dusseault of Victoriaville has contributed a valuable archival document written in French concerning biographical and genealogical information about Rufus Wadleigh of Kingsey and Arthabaska. Please find this article in the Archives section.
2013: Legacy of the War of 1812-14 in Drummond County. A major fund-raiser “Eight par Huit”
The War of 1812-14 was commemorated in the following ways: Dr. Desmond Morton, noted Canadian military historian from McGill University, guest speaker at the Annual General Meeting, May 26 presented an overview of the War of 1812-14 with particular attention to the participation of Lower Canada and the role played by Major-General F. G. Heriot, the founder of Drummondville. Two weeks later on June 8, members and friends of the society explored the fragments of history left by the veterans of that war who had accompanied Major- General Heriot to Drummond County , such as burial grounds, churches, ferry crossings, farms, as well as evidence of the Abenaquis heritage in the area.
Fundraiser Eight Par Huit:Artists of the area and further afield were invited to donate a piece of art (8”x 8”) each of which sold for $25.00 at an art exhibition and fundraising Gala evening held on September 27 in Richmond. The event was most successful. RCHS warmly thanks the artists for their generosity and their donation.
2014: Art Gala and Book Launch
A unique fundraising event was held in Richmond in late September, 2014 which brought together art and literature. An Art Gala auction together with a book signing by Nick Fonda of his recent book, Hanging Fred and a Few Others was well attended and hugely successful. Nick Fonda’s book is a biography of the life of F.S. Coburn during the sixth decade of the artist’s life, the years following his wife’s death. Thanks to the generosity of well-known artists of the Eastern Townships who each donated a painting for auction, a sizeable sum was realized which was jointly shared by Richmond County Historical Society and the Centre d’Art de Richmond.
2015: The Manse - the new Museum/Archives of Richmond County Historical Society
On April 2, 2015, a deed of sale was signed by the Trustees of Richmond County Historical Society and the trustees of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church of Upper Melbourne concerning Richmond County Historical Society’s purchase of the Presbyterian Church manse. This new facility will house the Archives of Richmond County Historical Society together with the artifacts of the former Museum. Located at 1161, Route 243, this venerable red-brick house has stood for more than 170 years. It was built shortly after the completion of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church (1842) and has been home to thirty-one Presbyterian ministers and their families. When the last of the full-time minsters moved out of the manse (2005), the Trustees of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church rented the house until 2014, when the decision was made to sell the house.
For the past seventeen years, Richmond County Historical Society has rented a large first-floor room for a year-round archive facility in the Town Hall of Municipality of Melbourne Township. In May 2014, the society was invited to find another archive facility because the municipality required more space. After considerable searching, the Executive decided to purchase the Presbyterian Church manse which was already on the market. An agreement was struck with the local church people in late December, 2014 and at Easter-time, 2015, the agreement was finalized. Much work will be needed to turn this building into a Museum/Archives and the spring/summer of 2015 will be a very busy time to make the renovations necessary for this task. The Executive looks forward to seeing members and friends at the new Museum/Archives when the renovations are completed.
The theme Scots Heritage in Richmond County and Vicinity was celebrated in many ways. At the old Museum, displays of Scots memorabilia developed by Grace Johnston and enhanced with tartans loaned by Rod McIver were seen throughout the rooms. Mr. McIver was the guest speaker at the AGM and spoke about the Scotstown area and the story of Donald Morrison, the Megantic Outlaw in preparation for a September Cavalcade to Stornoway, Gisla, Scotstown, and Gould.
A Scots Heritage DVD was produced by willing volunteers and included a tour of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Upper Melbourne with “guide” Vera Hughes, Flodden Cemetery with “guide” Ian McMorine and the Asbestos- Danville Presbyterian area with “guide” Harriet Healy. Other areas of Scots influence included in the DVD are Kingsbury, New Rockland, Windsor, Hardwood Hill. Slatington, Scotch Hill and Richmond. As well as the three speakers mentioned, several other volunteers played key roles. Francine Beaubien, organist and pianist, played well-known Scots hymns and melodies on the organ and piano of the Danville United Church which provided a separation between the various segments of the DVD while her husband, Nick Fonda recounted the story of John Sims and the Broad Axe and recited Robbie Burns poems for the St. Andrew’s Society segment. The DVD was produced in Waterloo, Ontario and Melbourne, Quebec by Melanie Reed and Richard Orzechowski. Richard also recorded the voices and music used throughout the DVD. Esther Healy researched and wrote the script and she and her husband, Don Healy took the many photographs “in the field” and made the maps. Ron Ewing was the able narrator and wrote two sections, the Scots-Irish chapter and the Trout Brook one. Ted Laporte provided the GPS coordinates for the bilingual self-guided tour booklet. Bonnie Van Doorn was the translator. Seven photo panels with bilingual captions were made to accompany the various Scots areas of Richmond County.
On October 25, the DVD was premiered at the Harvest Luncheon of RCHS held at Le Temps des Cerises in Danville, the former Presbyterian Church.
2016: Local Women of Note and Housewife Heroines displays at the Manse
The theme for 2016 was Women in History. Local Women of Note of Richmond County and Vicinity of Years Gone By. Members and friends were invited to submit nominations to the curator, Grace Johnston, and to provide an essay and photograph about their nominee’s accomplishments. These framed photo essays were displayed throughout the Museum in celebration of local women whose influence who made a difference to this area in years gone by. This display continues into 2017.
Housewife Heroines of World War Two, a travelling exhibit prepared by the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network was also featured in August 2016. Twenty bilingual photo banners told stories of the World War Two work done by Quebec housewives. Their efforts initiated significant changes on the labour scene which continue to this day. The exhibition which was displayed in the downstairs rooms at the Museum was introduced and interpreted by Lorraine O’Donnell and Dwane Wilkins (QAHN) at the launch of the display in August. RCHS is very grateful to QAHN for this generous opportunity to display the exhibition.
2017: Richmond County Historical Society gave a nod to Canada's 150th Anniversary of Confederation in the following ways:
- Students from Richmond Schools St. Francis Elementary School and Ecole Du Plein Coeur participated in various artistic projects which depicted the history of the Richmond area 150 years ago. The Society received many wonderful class projects: mobiles about historical topics, drawings of historical subjects, photographs, paintings and a large red and white quilt in which the students hand painted the quilt blocks and adult volunteers completed the quilt. These items were displayed in the new annex of the Museum for the 2017 museum season.
- RCHS took advantage of the 2017 Federal Government's Parks Canada Program (free entrance) to visit a National Park, in our case, Grosse Ile. In cooperation with the Richmond St. Patrick's Society, the visit took place on July 30. With excellent cooperation from Les Croisieres Lachance, Bell Horizon Bus Company, Parks Canada Guides, the tour was much enjoyed by all.