Two History Moments produced by History Lives Here Inc. on the canning industry of Prince Edward County are featured at a new exhibit, which opened May 13th at the Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum in Ottawa.

Video plays in French or English

Food Preservation: The Science You Can Eat is an exhibit which tells visitors the story of food preservation from the first days of settlement when aboriginal peoples and settlers dried, salted and buried food to survive long winters to technological advances such as the canning of foodstuffs in the 1880s and development of frozen foods in the 1930s. Today, scientific innovation in the food industry allows us to grow and import food from all over the world that retains its nutritional value over an extended shelf life. Finding ways to preserve food is one of the greatest advances in civilization.

Canadians can take credit for many of these scientific breakthroughs. Research at the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa where the museum is located has resulted in a staggering number of discoveries of new plant varieties, processing techniques, and food products. While the preservation of food through the canning process dates back to the Napoleonic era, the fruit and vegetable canning industry in Canada took root in the small community of Prince Edward County in the 1880s. In 1882, Wellington Boulter, the father of the canning industry in Canada, started a small factory in Picton, Ontario. Soon other factories dotted the landscape of this small community, and the area became so dominant in the industry shipping canned goods all over the world that the region became known as the Garden County of Canada. Our History Moment on the origins of the canning industry in Prince Edward County is one of two video features showcased in the museum exhibit. 

Our second History Moment featured in the exhibit tells the story of early attempts to advertise canned goods. The first products of the canning industry would be considered unacceptable by today’s standards. Lids were soldered shut by hand and bits of solder often dropped into the canned food. The first tins reacted with the food and caused lead poisoning. Sanitary practices throughout these rudimentary factories were largely absent as the science of canned foods had yet to be discovered. To counter consumer resistance, the early canners spent a great deal of effort on the labels that adorned their products. Embossed colour labels created by design firms in Toronto, Hamilton and Montreal enticed consumers to try these canned products. Today, these spectacularly beautiful labels are artwork that reflects early advertising approaches. Some of the labels that adorned canned goods produced in Prince Edward County were quite likely designed by Group of Seven artists who supported their weekend painting expeditions by day jobs at lithographic firms supplying canning companies with labels.

“We encourage Canadians to take in this wonderful exhibit, “says Peter Lockyer, the producer of the History Moments series. “And we’ve very honoured to have our history features as part of the display. It’s an indication that our work showcasing old forgotten stories from communities throughout Eastern Ontario has a timeless value to museums like the Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum and the thousands of visitors they receive each year.”

To learn more about the Food Preservation: Science You Can Eat exhibit at the Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum, visit their website at http://www.cafmuseum.techno-science.ca

Wind, Waves and Canvas Sails: Re-live The Era of the Tall Ships This Summer

Experience the great age of sail onboard the tall ship, the St. Lawrence II, as part of a once-in-a–lifetime sailing adventure on Sunday, June 15th and Monday, June 16th 2014.

Your travel adventure includes a half day onboard this magnificent 70 foot square rigger as it departs Napanee at noon on Sunday, June 15th making its way under full sail to the quaint harbour in Picton, Ontario. Hear the rich maritime history of the region while helping to navigate this great ship on its journey. 

A three-course dinner created by acclaimed chef Michael Sullivan, and overnight stay at the elegant Merrill Inn brings the day to a close.  After a sumptuous hot breakfast at the inn on Monday morning, an experienced guide from History Lives Here Inc. will take you by bus on a customized tour of Prince Edward County to some of its unique heritage sites, with lunch at the Agrarian Restaurant and shopping in the charming village of Bloomfield before a visit to the Black Prince Winery. Return transportation to Napanee is provided by Franklin Coach Lines.

The all-inclusive tour price is  $545/pp plus tax based on double occupancy. This two-day tall ship adventure is limited to 24 adults so book soon! 

To book tickets and for further information, contact:

Brigantine Inc., 53 Yonge St., Kingston, ON K7M 6G4

Tel.: 613 544–5175

Email: info@brigantine.ca

Website: www.brigantine.ca

Tall Ship Itinerary Cruise

June 15/16, 2014

As part of the inaugural Napanee Riverfront Festival taking place on the weekend of June 13-15 2014 (www.downtownnapanee.com), Brigantine Inc., the owners of the tall ship the St. Lawrence II, and History Lives Here Inc., are offering a sailing adventure cruise from Napanee to the nearby community of Picton, Ontario. 

Experience life onboard this great ship as part of the crew learning timeless nautical skills from master mariners. Hear the rich maritime history of the area from historical author, Dave More, the manager of Brigantine Inc., as you re-live the era when tall ships, their crews and cargoes made the area a dominant commercial centre within a young country. Discover the history of Prince Edward County while staying at one of the area’s finest inns, savouring fine food, and visiting one of the local vineyards in Canada’s newest wine region.

Sunday, June 15 2014

Noon departure from Napanee for Picton

Departure is from the Waterfront River Pub and Terrace, 22 Water St. in Napanee

Lunch will be served onboard

6 pm arrival at Picton with transport to the elegant Merrill Inn for dinner and overnight stay [www.merrillinn.com]

Monday, June 16 2014 8 am–9 am … Breakfast

9 am … Bus pick up by Franklin Coach Lines [www.franklincoachlines.com]

9 am–1130 am … Heritage tour with local historian Peter Lockyer of History Lives Here Inc. [www.historyliveshere.ca]

1200 pm … Lunch at the Agrarian Restaurant, Bloomfield [www.AgrarianPEC.ca]

1 pm–2 pm … Shopping in the village of Bloomfield [www.bloomfieldontario.ca]

2:30–4 pm … Wine tasting at The Black Prince Winery [www.blackprincewinery.com]

4 pm … Bus transportation to Napanee

4:30–5 pm … Arrive Napanee

All bookings for this adventure cruise are through:

Brigantine Inc.,

53 Yonge St., Kingston, ON K7M 6G4

Tel.: 613 544–5175

Email: info@brigantine.ca

Website: www.brigantine.ca

THE BUSINESS CASE FOR HERITAGE – History Lives Here at the 2014 Economic Revitalization Conference


History Lives Here at the 2014 Economic Revitalization Conference

In recent years, The Monieson Centre at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario has hosted an annual summit on rural economic development bringing together academics, economic development specialists, and government and private business stakeholders to share research and best practices.

At this year’s conference held April 8th at the Kingston Waterfront Holiday Inn, History Lives Here Inc. was invited to present the business case for heritage.  Key excerpts from our presentation re-stated our belief that rural communities across Canada are losing their built heritage and special places – the physical expression of the past – because old landmark buildings, barns, rural spaces, cemeteries, and museums are viewed as municipal loss leaders and “heritage beggars” rather than critical business assets within their communities. Matters will be become worse over the next five to ten years as many volunteer groups currently maintaining heritage properties age and become unable to continue this work. Municipalities should be concerned about the many implications of the aging demographics of their communities as many volunteer groups now raising money for a wide range of worthy community causes – including heritage preservation – will soon simply fade into the past.

That’s certainly the case in historic Prince Edward County, a community rich in history that is now a largely retirement area nestled along the northern shores of Lake Ontario. While there have been some restoration success stories as volunteers rallied to save historic properties, the fact is the community cannot save buildings as fast as it is tearing them down.  In 2010, an old Methodist Church built in 1875 along the Main Street of the community’s major centre of Picton, a town of 4,000 people, was torn down in a spectacular example of what can happen in the absence of any community vision and plan to maintain its heritage infrastructure. As horrified onlookers watched a demolition crew gut this graceful old building, municipal officials had no policy, no money, and no means to intervene. Years later, the site is now a vacant lot up for sale and there is still no heritage strategy in place in the community. And there are now other significant properties at risk with more to come.

Our solution is that communities develop a Heritage Economy, the concept that local history and heritage can be transformed into a suite of goods and services retailed to the world – bus and walking tours, specialty foods and drinks, crafts, conferences, festivals, antique shows, plays, videos, and other events, which celebrate local history while creating locally made products retailed online to heritage consumers.

There is a marketplace for history. Every month, 68 million people around the world Google the word “history”.  The History Channels in the United States and Canada exist as businesses linking advertisers with boomer consumers interested in history. Ancestry.com makes $28 million/month from its 1.7 million subscribers accessing the company’s extensive genealogical database. The small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania makes nearly $400 million annually and has created 5800 jobs from its yearly influx of three million visitors coming to hear the story of three days of history forged during the American Civil War in the 1860s. So why don’t we tell our stories to the world as an economic driver in our communities?

Over the last decade, History Lives Here has been working closely in our hometown of Prince Edward County to encourage new strategic partnerships for a collaborative community effort to celebrate our history and to kick – start the Heritage Economy. We have developed walking tours and are now expanding into bus and tall ship tours with local bus lines and Brigantine Inc. of Kingston, a non-profit organization operating a 70-foot square rigger, the St. Lawrence II. Beginning in June 2014 with a pilot tall ship adventure cruise to Picton, we plan to develop regular tall ship cruises between Kingston and Picton in 2015.

We have developed a fall/winter series on local history themes, and an annual video series called The History Moments, two-minute video vignettes on early settlement, first industries, prominent people and significant events, which have profoundly shaped the history of the area. The History Moments play before movies at local theatres, on regional television and cable stations, are broadcast online on the websites of sponsors and community partners, are distributed into area schools as learning resources, and retailed as DVDs at local shops. They are an important first heritage product in awakening the community to the history that is all around us.

Prince Edward County is Canada’s newest wine region. In partnership with the Black Prince Winery of Picton, we have developed History Lives Here wine, and we are working with our local artists and businesses to develop other heritage products. 

Heritage isn’t free. It’s come at an enormous cost to those who gone before us. I think we owe them something. We should remember them always, tell their remarkable stories, and we should be stewards of the past in our lifetimes. But we need to think bigger, act more boldly, and work together to develop a business that transforms the dormant asset in every community – our history and heritage – into a product line retailed to the world. Old approaches such as bottle drives, bake sales, and annual dinners with silent auctions will never raise the money required for heritage preservation. We need to develop a Heritage Economy.


Members of the Macdonald Project Committee were introduced by Speaker David Levac at the Ontario Legislature on Wednesday, April 2, 2014 and received a standing ovation from MLAs for their project to celebrate the 200th birthday of Sir John A. Macdonald. 

The project will create a life-size statute of Canada’s first prime minister as a young man practicing law in Picton in the 1830s. The project has been prominently displayed in an exhibit in the lobby of the Ontario Legislature over the past few months featuring a head study of Macdonald created by artist Ruth Abernethy.

Committee members observed Question Period before being taken on an extensive tour of the Legislature followed by lunch with Speaker Levac in his private quarters. A former teacher and principal, Speaker Levac is the Liberal member from the Brantford area. He is an avid history fan who entertained committee members with stories from his riding of famous Canadians including the Massey and Cockshutt families who once ran major farm implement factories in the area.

The Macdonald Project Committee is now planning its next major event – a re-enactment of the infamous Lazier Murder Trial in 1884 to be held in the old courthouse in Picton on Friday, July 11th 2014 at 1:30.

Judge Robert Sharpe of the Ontario Court of Appeals, a Picton native and author of a book on the case, will be taking guests through key moments of the trial with the help of some of his legal colleagues. The trial resulted in a death sentence for two Prince Edward County men convicted of murder as part of a botched robbery attempt in Bloomfield during Christmas 1883. The two men were hanged a month later – the only two men ever to be hanged in Prince Edward County. A tour of the cells and gallows will follow the re-enactment as well as a reception at the nearby Macaulay Museum. The re-enactment is a fundraising event for the project.

Contact History Lives Here Inc. at 613 – 476-356 Email: historylivesheref@bell.net for ticket information.


The Life Story of French Naval Commander Rene – Hippolyte Laforce

Kingston author David More showcased the remarkable life of mariner, explorer and merchant Rene-Hippolyte Laforce (1728 – 1802) at another of the History Nights At The Regent lectures on Monday, March 3, 2014.

David More, Kingston author

Laforce is a shadow within Canadian history. Born in Quebec City as one of ten children, he spent his early years at Fort Niagara near the present-day site of Youngstown, New York where his father served as the king’s storekeeper. By 1751, Laforce was engaged onboard ships trading between Quebec City, Fort Louisbourg and Cape Breton Island. His familiarity with the route proved invaluable later in life when he escaped a winter shipwreck on Cape Breton Island and walked to Louisbourg.

At the outbreak of the Seven Years’ War, Laforce took up a new job as commander of the French flotilla on Lake Ontario defeating the British in a skirmish near Oswego in the only naval battle between the two powers. The battle would be a game changer for his career as the British later hired him to fight for them against American forces upon the outbreak of the American Revolution. He patrolled the St. Lawrence as part of British efforts to protect this vital supply line, and rose steadily through the ranks to build and command the vessel Seneca, to assume command of the fleet on Lake Ontario, and to oversee shipbuilding operations at the current site of Maitland, Ontario and at the major British base on Carleton Island. 

In between, Laforce was a trader making regular runs to the West Indies, and conducted marine surveys of the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. He died in February 1802 in Quebec City at the age of 74 and is buried there largely forgotten except for people like David More. More has written several books loosely fashioned on the life of Laforce. 

History Lives Here Inc. sponsors this series of lectures in association with The Black Prince Winery, The Merrill Inn, and The Regent Theatre.

Rod de Courcy-Ireland of Black Prince Wineries, Peter Lockyer & author, David More
The Brigantine St. Lawrence



March 2, 2014

Our History Moments series of historical vignettes on local history themes were shown at the 2014 Belleville DOCFEST held February 28 – March 2 at various downtown locations in the city.

As in past years, the vignettes appeared before many of the international and local documentaries showcased during the event, which brings together films, filmmakers, and audiences. Over 50 films were shown this year.  All 500 passes for this year’s festival – its third year – were sold and many of the films drew standing- room only crowds.

“Documentaries are the last domain of thoughtful, and well-researched journalism addressing significant world issues, “ says Peter Lockyer of History Lives Here Inc. 

“ In this multi-channel universe of often trite and mindless reality shows, documentaries remain faithful to basic journalism standards shining a light on stories that would otherwise remain untold. We’d like to congratulate the many volunteers who organize Belleville’s DOCFEST as it is becoming another public platform for discussion of important local and global issues.”

The History Moments can now be seen before movies at The Regent Theatre in Picton, The Aron Theatre in Campbellford, and the Empire Theatre in Belleville as well as on TVCogeco and CKWS TV in Kingston. 

Some of our features on the canning industry of Prince Edward County produced as part of our very first series in 2009 were recently selected by the Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum in Ottawa for use in a new exhibit on the Canadian food industry to be opened in May 2004.

The Business of History: The Restoration and Return of the S.S. Keewatin February 4, 2014

In the second lecture of the 2014 History Nights At The Regent lecture series on Monday, February 3, Skyline International Hotels’ executive, Sean Billing, presented the business case for history. 

“History is a business,” stated Billing. “ In planning our $1.6 billion dollar development of the former rail terminus and port in Port McNicoll, Ontario near Barrie, we felt the history of the place provided the most compelling and unique opportunity to re-connect with the community.”

Billing is the General Manager of Horseshoe Valley Resort, one of the many Skyline International resort properties, which include Deerhurst Resort in the Muskokas, the King Edward Hotel in Toronto, and the Regency Hyatt in Chicago. He has been heavily involved in the company’s project to restore and return the Canadian Pacific luxury liner, the S.S. Keewatin, to its homeport after a 45 – year exile in the United States. Skyline sunk $2 million and a decade of work to bring the vessel home in June 2012. The ship’s return was the greatest event in recent years in Port McNicoll, a community that became a ghost town after Canadian Pacific closed its rail and ship service in the 1960s.

In making the investment decision, says Billing, the company was guided by some tested business principles such as offering a unique, authentic attraction that touches the senses, and provides an exclusive experience. Built in 1907 in Scotland, the Keewatin is the last of the luxury ships that carried passengers on the Great Lakes – a timepiece that still reflects the great age of ship travel. Skyline is betting that their investment in its restoration and return will attract clients to their ambitious re-development of its homeport. And they are right. Last year, 30,000 people paid a $15 admission fee to tour the ship. An estimated 100,000 are expected to visit in 2014 

Toronto producer, John Fulford -Brown of KEE MEDIA Group, introduced his compelling documentary on the story of the S.S. Keewatin. The one-hour program chronicles the herculean efforts of the company and community volunteers to “Bring Her On Home” – the title of the documentary.

The next History Night At The Regent lecture is at 7 pm on Monday, March 3rd 2014. Kingston author and historian, David More, will tell the story of Canada’s first native –born naval commander, Rene Laforce. Laforce was so skilled in naval battles against the British, they hired him to fight for them against American forces during the War of 1812. But More will also be talking about his day job as manager of the tall ships owned by Brigantine Inc. and their plans to bring tours to Prince Edward County in the future. For more information, contact The Regent Theatre Tel: 613 -476 – 8416 Email: info@TheRegentTheatre.org.



HISTORY AS A BUSINESS: The Story of the S.S. Keewatin’s Journey Home

Hear the story of the return and restoration of the Canadian Pacific luxury liner, The S. S. Keewatin, to its home port of Port McNicoll, Ontario as part of the History Nights At The Regent lecture series on Monday, February 3rd, 2014 at 7 pm. at The Regent Theatre in Picton.

The S.S. Keewatin was built in Scotland and launched in July 1907. Destined to be a passenger and freight carrier linking the rail terminus in the community of Port McNicoll near Barrie, Ontario with the railhead at what is now Thunder Bay, this great vessel spent nearly 60 years in service until its retirement in 1967 as one of the last of its kind. Bound for the scrap yard, the Keewatin was rescued by an American entrepreneur who brought it to Douglas, Michigan where it became a floating museum for the next 45 years.

But in 2012, this iconic piece of Canadian history was returned home by Skyline International Developments as the centerpiece of their $1.6 billion re-development of the waterfront and railway terminus in Port McNicoll. This is a great story about maritime history. But it’s also an intriguing story about the business of history.

Skyline executive, Sean Billing, will be discussing his company’s two million dollar investment in the Keewatin and their plans for the vessel as part of their development project. John Fulford-Brown of Kee Media Group, the producers of the documentary Bring Her On Home – The Return of the S.S. Keewatin, will also screen the one – hour film.

History Lives Here Inc. sponsors the History Nights At The Regent lecture series in association with The Merrill Inn and The Regent Theatre.

For ticket information, contact The Regent Theatre, 224 Main St. in Picton

Telephone 613 – 476 – 8416   Email: info@TheRegentTheatre.org