Monday, November 25, 2019

History of local history

Went round last week to hear a talk at the local historical society by my friend Ron Brown, who knows everything about the lost, remarkable, quirky, and unknown towns/roads/landmarks/natural wonders across Ontario, and indeed much of Canada.  There was the usual friendly, interested crowd.  Ron got them laughing by mentioning the Ford recall notice he'd recently seen -- and how disappointed he been to realize it only meant the automobile. (Evidently one can get away with some political sting.)

I have a constant admiration for historical societies. They seem to me like civic society.  Just because groups of citizens have decided to band together, they work to appreciate a community's built and natural environment, to preserve and defend when necessary, and constantly to share knowledge, just for the pleasure of it.

As it happened, the society whose event we were attending was also launching a new book about local history, Glimpses into Etobicoke's Past. The Etobicoke Historical Society has been active since 1958, and this anthology gathers essays it has been publishing since then. Most historical societies have a certain lineage shrine aspect to them and this book certainly bears marks of its origins:  lots of attention to early settlers, local families of note, and notable landmarks, not so much on indigenous or minority presence.

But we are lucky books like this one exist. Anyone who mouths the old cliche about Canadians taking no interest in their history should count how many collections of irreplaceable local history exist through the efforts of local historians. 

Follow @CmedMoore