History Nights at the Regent Theatre – The Legacy of Our Decade of War in Afghanistan – Feb 4, 2013


In 2001 Canadian troops went to war for the first time since the Korean War in the 1950s.

Our soldiers joined troops from an international coalition to fight the U.S. – led War on Terrorism on Afghan soil, thought to be the host country for terrorism organizations and the world’s most wanted man – Osama bin Laden. Canadian soldiers were stationed in the hot, dry areas of Kandahar Province in southern Afghanistan clearing villages of Taliban insurgents in hard-fought battles that stretched into years. Some of their work included building schools, roads and other projects while providing security so Canadian development programs to encourage democracy, human rights reforms, and a civil society could take root in the country.

But all of this work exacted a heavy price as billions of dollars in military and development aid was poured into the country, and 158 Canadian soldiers lost their lives in ambushes, suicide attacks and roadside bomb explosions.

Was Afghanistan worth the price we paid? Is there any legacy to the decade of Canadian effort in the country? Was it a victory or a defeat for western forces?

Hear the views of Afghan author and journalist, Nelofer Pazira on Monday, February 4th at 7 PM at The Regent Theatre in Picton. Now living in Toronto, she fled Afghanistan with her family in the 1980s as the fundamentalist reign of the Taliban gripped the country in fear and brutality – an escape she chronicled in her 2005 book, A Bed of Red Flowers. Nelofer is an award-winning film and documentary producer/director, broadcast commentator, and a frequent advisor to international organizations working in the region.

The address is another in the series of “History Nights At The Regent” winter lectures sponsored by History Lives Here Inc., a heritage communications company based in Picton and The Merrill Inn, one of Ontario’s finest inns.

Tickets are $15 (including HST) Students $5

For tickets and info on more lectures in the series, contact: Call the Regent Theatre Box Office for Tickets: (613)476-8416 ext 28 or toll free (877)411-4761 or use the form on the box office websitewww.theregenttheatre.org Admission is $15 (including tax.) Students $5

History Nights at The Regent Theatre – Titanic! November 12, 2012

Join us on Monday nights throughout the fall and winter of 2012/2013 for monthly History Nights at The Regent Theatre.   

Our first History Night features Greg Curtis of Kingston, a member of the international Titanic Historical Society, discussing the sinking of the Titanic.   

When Greg was a young boy, he received a lump of coal for Christmas….and he was thrilled to get it. The small piece of coal had been recovered from the Titanic wreck and it further encouraged his life-long interest in this great ship.  

This year marks the 100th anniversary of this dramatic maritime disaster in April 1912 off the coast of Newfoundland. The Titanic was a titan of its time and one of several massive floating luxury hotels built by its owners, the White Star Line, in response to new and larger vessels constructed by their rival, The Cunard Line. Promoted as unsinkable, this great ship made history on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York when it struck an iceberg at high speed late on the evening of April 14, 1912. Within just a few hours of the collision, the Titanic split apart from the great weight of water filling its holds and at 2:20 am on the morning of April 15th, it slipped beneath the waves to a final berth in the deep, cold waters of the Atlantic.  

The Titanic was full of mysteries. The vessel had received plenty of ice warnings and yet it cruised close to top speed. The first lifeboats were nearly empty when they were lowered. Later lifeboats were dangerously overcrowded. Most of the ship’s 2,240 passengers perished. Some were traveling under false names to escape past lives. Survivors went on to live lives that were both celebrated and infamous. And it’s sinking a century ago remains an enduring tale that has inspired multiple movies and books.  

Join us at The Regent at 7 pm on Monday, November 12th, 2012 for this first History Night at The Regent!  

Call the Regent Theatre Box Office for Tickets: (613)476-8416 ext 28 or toll free (877)411-4761 or use the form on the box office website www.theregenttheatre.org
Admission is $15 (including tax.) Students $5

Titanic History Night

Future History Nights include: 7 PM Monday, January 7th, 2013 – The War of 1812 by one of Canada’s leading military historians, Maj. John Grodzinski, Phd. and Assistant Professor, The History Department at the Royal Military College in Kingston 7 PM Monday, February 4th, 2013 – The War in Afghanistan from an Afghan Perspective by Toronto author and filmmaker, Nelofer Pazira, who escaped Afghanistan with her family to re-settle in Canada 7 PM Monday, March 4, 2013 – Patrice Dutil of Ryerson College and The Champlain Society traces the epic voyage of French explorer Samuel de Champlain through the Quinte area in 1615 7 PM Monday, April 1, 2013 – A Gettysburg Address: Meet members of the Gettysburg Foundation as they discuss the marketing of history

Belleville 2012 History Moments launch speech

Thank you for sharing this special evening with us.

What we’re going to do tonight is show you 12 wonderful stories from the rich past of the Quinte area.

We might have shown you several thousand stories tonight because that’s how many there are. In fact there are so many, we will never ever run out of history.

But we thought that might make for a long evening, so we’re just going to show you 12. But the idea is that we will be back again next year at this time with another 12, and another 12 the year after that. And the series will continue indefinitely.

Why are we doing this?

One reason is that this is the 90th anniverary of the Belleville Kiwanis Club. I can’t think of a better birthday present than to share the history of the community with the community.

But there are other reasons.

One is the battle going on in communities all across the country and it is a battle that communities are losing…badly. This is the battle for heritage preservation.

In my hometown of Picton we lost an 1875 church on our Main street two years ago this month. It’s demolition followed the demolition of an entire nearby block six months before that. Today if you visit Picton you will see two weedy vacant lots where those buildings once stood.

I think we made a very poor trade.

Heritage buildings are a phsyical expression of our past.

And if you tear down all the special places in your community, you have to wonder what’s so special about your community? The sad answer to that is “absolutely nothing”. This is a squandered inheritance.

Heritage isn’t free. It’s come at an enormous cost to those who have gone before us. I think we owe them something.

We should remember them always. We should tell their stories…and we should be stewards in our time of the legacy they left us. That’s why it matters.

What if history and heritage made money?

If they did, we could partner with property owners and developers contributing dollars to projects, which preserved – rather than tore down – heritage properties.

The loss of heritage buildings is only going to get worse over the next 10-15 years as our volunteer organizations age.

Volunteers help maintain many old properties – cemeteries, archives, libraries and museums. But many volunteer community groups are aging. I could name you a dozen organizations in Prince Edward county on the verge of folding.

So the volunteer base is aging and at the same time, grants and funding for these organizations is declining.

Governments at all levels should be interested in this question because they are not possibly ever going to make up the difference in money and human capital to replace the millions of dollars and volunteer hours committed every year to a wide range of worthy causes….

Queen’s University released a study of the non-profit sector recentl and one of the stats in the study was that 7% of volunteers do 71% of the work, so you can see how vulnerable the sector is if just 7% of its members retire from volunteering.

And when they do, the churches and other heritage properties they now help to maintain are going to face an uncertain future.

So the big question is “What’s going to happen when you and I can’t do this work anymore?”

What if history and heritage made money? If they did, we could hire staff rather than recruit volunteers to do this work.

Young people don’t need a history lesson. They need jobs. And the truth is a young, skilled, competent professional working a 40-hour work week will out perform a volunteer borad. Volunteers give what they can. But it isn’t always enough.

There is a huge marketplace for history.

Every month, 68 million people around the world google the word history. They’re looking for history and we have it. And we have the means through new technologies to reach them.

History is one of the top three reasons why people travel after family and friends people.

The history channels in the U.S. and Canada exist because they link advertisers with 9.8 million Baby Boomers in Canada…. And their parents…who buy stuff…and lots of it.

We have the business case of Ancestry.com – the online geneaology site with 1.7 million subscribers paying an average of $16.75 per month to access their records. That’s $28 million/month to look through old records of marriages, births and deaths. What do we have in our municipal archives, libraries, museums and cemeteries? We have old records.

Finally, we have the business model of Gettysburg, PA., which has turned its history forged during the 1860s during the American Civil War when 50,000 soldiers from both sides died in three days of fighting into a heritage economy – the concept that local history can be transformed into a suite of goods and services retailed to the world.

They make $385 million/year from the 3 million people who visit them each year. They’ve created 5,800 jobs and a tax base of $109 million. Now I ask you –”what could be simpler than to tell the same three days of history every year and make that kind of money?”

We have more than three days of history. We have 228 years of loyalist settlement. So why don’t we tell our stories to the world and develop a heritage economy? Why don’t we make money from our history?

If history made money, we wouldn’t tear down old landmark buildings. We’d value them as an important part of our past.

If history made money, we wouldn’t consider our archives, museums, libraries and cemeteries as municipal loss leaders and heritage beggars. We’d view them as profit centres and history factories.

If history made money, we would create jobs for young people in the history business rather than recruit an older generation as volunteers.

And if history could make money, it would answer the question –”What’s going to happen when we can’t do this work anymore?”

The answer is for us to be in the history business.

It’s not often you get to make history. But you and I are making history tonight because we are introducing our first product in the heritage economy – the 2012 History Moments series.

History has to be more than a vague cultural thing. It has to be something you can eat, something you can drink, something you can experience. This series is something you can hold in your hand…something you can experience.

So, the History Moments are just a first product because history can be a bus tour, a festival, a toy, a craft, a play, a specialty food or drink. But as a first step we need to awaken the community to the rich history that is all around is and the enormous economic possibilities if we retailed our stories to the world.

There are new audiences for these old stories. We can create a new industry from an old asset. And that’s why the past matters.

I would like to thank the Kiwanis club for allowing us to be part of their 90th anniversary celebrations.

And also to thank our sponsors – the Black Prince winery, The Belleville Intelligencer, the City of Belleville, the Corporation of the County of Prince Edward County, Essroc Cement, the Inrig family, LaFarge North America, and our community partners – the Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County, the Hastings County Historical Society, the Museums of PEC, the Glenwood Cemetery, and TV Cogeco.

Finally I’d like to thank all the people who assisted in the making of the series. I don’t do this work alone so know when you watch these stories, you are watching the work of many highly-talented people.

We hope you will join us for a glass of Black Prince wine and a reception after the showing.

Here now is the 2012 History Moments Series.

Making Hometown History Belleville Kiwanis and History Moments 2012 launch!

This year marks the 90th anniversary of the Kiwanis Club of Belleville.

As part of its anniversary events, the club is celebrating area history by partnering in the launch of a history series showcasing the rich past of Hastings and Prince Edward Counties. The series launch will take place at The Empire Theatre in Belleville at 7 pm. on Saturday, September 29th with a second launch at 7 pm. and at The Regent Theatre in Picton on Monday, October 15th, 2012.

The series, called History Moments, features short stories of early settlement, prominent people and significant events, which have profoundly shaped the past of the Quinte region. History Lives Here Inc., a heritage communications company in Picton, has pioneered the concept in Prince Edward County producing an annual series over the past three years, which plays before movies at The Regent Theatre, is distributed into area schools, libraries, archives, and museums as an educational resource, retailed at local shops, and broadcast online on community partner websites to promote increased tourism and to enhance the profile of local heritage organizations.

“We wanted to celebrate our history as part of our anniversary plans, “ says Kiwanis President Ed Hawman. “This series is a means of celebrating more broadly with the community by showcasing these wonderful stories drawn from the past.”

“This is popular history,” says series producer Peter Lockyer. “ The series is designed to engage the community in its past – to awaken us to the history that is all around us, and the enormous economic potential of promoting our history to the world. The past can be a big part of the future if we work together to promote it as a suite of products retailed to heritage travelers.”

This year’s series will profile pioneer author Suzanna Moodie; the story of Eleanor May Bowden, the British servant girl at the Philip’s house (now Glanmore National Historic Site), one of the home children from poor English families sent to Canada and Australia to help populate these countries; the history of one of Canada’s oldest community newspapers, the Belleville Intelligencer; the company town of Pt. Anne and the Village of Wellington celebrating its 150th anniversary this year; and the story of the Fox Sisters from Consecon in Prince Edward County, two clairvoyant young women who helped shape the spiritualist movement in the United States in the 1850s.

Area businesses such as Black Prince Winery, Essroc Cement, Lafarge Canada, The Belleville Intelligencer, and the City of Belleville and the Corporation of the County of Prince Edward are sponsoring the series. Project proceeds help support the work of the Kiwanis Club of Belleville.

To purchase tickets to the launch events, contact:

The Empire Theatre (613)969-0099

The Regent Theatre (613)476-8416

The Kiwanis Club of Belleville

Miss Supertest Documentary by Peter Lockyer, History Lives Here Inc


(PICTON, ONTARIO) MAKING WAVES: The Story of the Miss Supertest Team, will premiere at The Regent Theatre in Picton at 4 pm. on Monday, August 8th 2011 as part of a three-day event to celebrate the Canadian racing hydroplane Miss Supertest III.

In August 1960 and 1961, the waters off Picton churned as unlimited class hydroplanes thundered across Long Reach leaving sprays of wake – or ”rooster tails” – as they sped by thousands of spectators watching from the shore. These were the Harmsworth International Races. In 1959, 1960, and 1961 a Canadian boat named Miss Supertest III swept to victory against her American competitors in races in Detroit and Picton to establish a record of successive championships that has never been matched by another Canadian boat.

To celebrate this Canadian sports history, a weekend of exhibits and events will be held at the Loch Sloy Business Park in Picton – once a military base known as Camp Picton. On Monday, August 8th, Canada Post will launch a commemorative stamp in honour of the boat. Later that afternoon, the documentary on the Supertest story will premiere at The Regent Theatre in Picton. See http://www.misssupertest.ca for a full list of events.

“The launch of the Canada Post commemorative stamp and this weekend celebration is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” says Peter Lockyer of History Lives Here Inc., the Picton-based communications firm, which produced the documentary. “ I attended the Harmsworth races 50 years ago and they have endured as an exciting moment in the maritime heritage of the area. It’s a privilege to re-live this rich history and to contribute our documentary on the Supertest team as part of this community celebration.”

MAKING WAVES: The Story of the Miss Supertest Team traces the early days of the Thompson family of London, Ontario, owners of the Supertest chain of gas stations across Canada, as they entered the world of international hydroplane racing in the 1950s. Although they faced a number of engineering challenges and heartbreaking setbacks before achieving success with their boats Miss Supertest II and Miss Supertest III, the Thompsons and their team won a series of three consecutive world titles.

“They made sports history,” says Lockyer. “The design of their Supertest boats, the Rolls Royce engines which powered them, drivers like Bob Hayward, and the other members of the team achieved greatness. They deserve to be celebrated for what they did especially at a time when Canadians were so uncertain of their place in the world.”

DVD copies of the documentary MAKING WAVES: The Story of the Supertest Team can be purchased at The Regent Theatre or online at Books & Company in Picton http://www.PictonBookstore.com

Formed in 2004 by former CBC broadcaster Peter Lockyer, History Lives Here Inc. provides a wide range of communication services for businesses, industry associations and communities celebrating significant anniversaries. 

For more information, contact:

Peter Lockyer History Lives Here Inc.

74 West Mary St., Picton, ON KOK 2TO

Tel: 613 – 476 – 3356

Email: historyliveshere@bell.net

Website: http://www.historyliveshere.ca

MAKING WAVES: The Story of the SupertestTeam

Canada Post Commemorative Stamp Celebrating Miss Supertest III

by capturing the International Harmsworth Trophy three years in a row.

Canada Post Commemorative Stamp Issue Date, Aug 8, 2011

Miss Supertest III

Fifty years ago, on August 7, 1961, tens of thousands of excited spectators stood on the banks of Lake Ontario at Long Reach, near Picton, Ontario, and held their collective breath as Canadian hydroplane Miss Supertest III made history by capturing the International Harmsworth Trophy for a third time in a row. Her story is almost mythic in that it combines both triumph and tragedy, and is still told again and again by those who were there to witness her historic win. The first non-U.S. winner in 39 years, the innovative Miss Supertest III, designed by James (Jim) Thompson and piloted by southwestern Ontario chicken farmer Bob Hayward, combined grace and beauty with indomitable speed and horsepower.  

At the age of seven, Thompson told his father that he wanted to win the Harmsworth for Canada someday. He inspired pride throughout the nation and caught the attention of the world when he made good on his childhood ambitions, capturing the prestigious international Harmsworth Trophy in 1959, 1960 and 1961. Miss Supertest III became a powerful example of Canadian ingenuity that still lives on in the hearts of hydroplane enthusiasts.  

Supertest Petroleum, founded by his father, J. Gordon Thompson, lent its name to three of the Thompson hydroplanes. Despite his Vice-presidential responsibilities at the then family-owned business, the younger Thompson dedicated much of his energies to speedboat racing. He achieved lesser triumphs with Miss Supertest I (formerly Miss Canada IV) and Miss Supertest II, which broke the world’s straightaway record with a speed of 297 km/h (184.495 mph).  

Miss Supertest III was specifically designed for the Harmsworth Trophy competition. Like her predecessor, she featured a 2000 hp Rolls-Royce Griffon motor, originally used to power the Royal Air Force’s Supermarine Spitfire single engine fighter. With other incremental innovations, Miss Supertest III quickly proved herself well suited to the Harmsworth Challenge.  

Her first and only non-Harmsworth race, with Hayward driving, was the 1959 Detroit Memorial Cup. Later that year, in August, Hayward piloted Miss Supertest III to a successful Harmsworth Trophy challenge on the Detroit River, with an average speed exceeding 185 km/h (115 mph). She and her racing team successfully defended the Harmsworth Trophy the following two years at Picton. In the 1960 competition, Hayward set a world lap speed record of 203 km/h (126.226 mph) on the 8 km (5 mile) course.  

Hayward drove Miss Supertest III in only four races, but was undefeated in all. In a tragic accident on September 10, 1961, during the U.S. Silver Cup race on the Detroit River, and only weeks after winning his third Harmsworth race, Hayward was moving at an estimated 249 km/h (155 mph) in the older Miss Supertest II when she flipped, killing him. The Thompson team retired from racing, and Miss Supertest III was permanently dry-docked. In tribute, a bay in Lake Ontario near Picton was named Hayward Long Reach. Both Hayward and Thompson have been inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame.  

For designer and speed enthusiast Ivan Novotny, Vice-president at Taylor|Sprules Corporation, designing the two Miss Supertest III stamps was a dream job. He had the great fortune of being able to spend time with Thompson, now in his mid 80s. In addition to allowing Novotny and the partners of the firm the opportunity to comb through his personal archives for imagery, he generously shared his own insider information about the design of the speedboat and his experiences as a part of the race team. For Novotny, it was an experience that crystallized the creative direction for the stamp.  

“I was thrilled that he was willing to show us Miss Supertest III. The boat feels very raw, powerful. It’s very impressive. But for me, the most inspiring aspect of seeing the speedboat is watching Jim (Thompson). There’s something in the way he touches the boat, the way he smiles. He was t alking to us, but I was watching his hand stroke the aged cracked varnish—it was as if the memories were flooding up through his fingertips. ”Novotny adds that viewing this relationship between man and machine helped to clarify his creative approach.  

“There’s something incredibly graceful about Jim—the genuine affection for the era in which Miss Supertest III won and the people who made that possible. I marvelled how he was able to jump back in time and remember so many precise details. It was definitely an exciting chapter in his life—but just one chapter of many. His respect for this machine is almost tangible. I wanted to capture that, to represent the era with a particular palette; to create a design that would pay homage to the speed and power and incredible grace that was Miss Supertest III and her team.”

Miss Supertest 50th Anniversary Celebration – August 6, 7, 8th 2011

50 years this August, Miss Supertest III, Canada’s entry in the Harmsworth International hydroplane race, captured a third straight championship over her American competitors. To celebrate this great moment in Canadian sports history, a weekend of events is scheduled August 6 – 8th, 2011 in Picton at Loch Sloy (Picton Airport). Miss Supertest III together with other race boats of her class will be on display. Canada Post will launch a commemorative stamp honouring the Supertest legacy on Monday, August 8th.

For more details on this event, visit http://www.misssupertest.ca

Look for our article on Miss Supertest published in the summer edition of Watershed magazine. http://www.watershedmagazine.com/

Launch of the 2011 History Moments Series III

Thank you for sharing this day with us. My name is Peter Lockyer and I have a company called History Lives Here Inc.

We’re here to celebrate the third series of History Moments.   

The History Moments are short, video vignettes on the local history of Prince Edward County that play before movies at The Regent, are broadcast on Cogeco cablevision, distributed into area schools, archives, libraries and museums, are used as part of the interpretative program to the over 550,000 annual visitors to The Sandbanks Provincial Park, are retailed in over 30 local stores, and broadcast online on the company website www.historyliveshere.ca.   

Starting this week, the series will be featured at another new event – the first Picton Picturefest, a cinema festival here at the Regent and other venues in the County. I like this idea – and I especially like that it is being organized by people a whole lot younger than I am – something I’d like to discuss with you today.  

The History Moments series is produced in association with The Glenwood Cemetery, The Museums of Prince Edward County, and The Regent Theatre. It’s one of several initiatives we have undertaken together to develop a history product line. We have our Gallows and Graveyards Walking Tours of Picton now in their 4th year, which takes place Friday and Saturday nights at 6:30 throughout the summer. Friday night’s tour takes you through the home and church of Rev. William Macaulay who was a titan of his time here in The County…and we also take you into the old gallows where we hanged two men in June 1884.   

Saturday night’s tour takes place at Glenwood Cemetery.  There’s a special walking tour tonight if you would like to take a tour of the restored Chapel at the Glenwood Cemetery and tour the grounds. Glenwood is actually a wonderful heritage restoration success story. So we invite you to come visit this evening and throughout the summer on Saturday nights to hear about what we’ve been doing over the last decade to restore this spectacular 62-acre heritage Victorian cemetery.  

And we have our fall/winter lectures series that we have developed. We’re working on our line up of speakers, but I can tell you that author Peter C. Newman has agreed to be one of our speakers this year. And we’re also partnering this year with Libby Crombie of Royal Lepage Proalliance Realty and Stephanie Lynn who have developed their Heritage Christmas House tour, which will take place on Sunday, December 4th.  

So we have started to develop a range of heritage products. We are doing all this to increase community awareness of the rich history that is all around us. Our thinking is that if you know about this heritage, then you will care about it, and become engaged in efforts to preserve it.  

Today’s launch of the third History Moments series is free.  

It is for two reasons. The first is that the partners in the project all feel quite strongly that nobody is every going to pay money to hear me speak.  

But the second reason is because we want to tell you that heritage isn’t free. It’s come as a result of an enormous effort by those who have gone before us…. It’s been built at great cost by the small deeds and great endeavours over the decades by people who believed – against great odds – that they could start over in a new land, build their community and build a nation.  

I think we owe them something. We owe them an equal effort to remember them…to tell their stories…and to safeguard rather than squander – the inheritance they left us.  

Last year was not a good year for heritage in Prince Edward County. In March 2009 we lost a block of our Main Street in Picton to a new development yet to be built a year later. It’s located next to the block of gracious old houses we tore down in the 1970s to build a mini mall. And it was just across the street from the old Methodist Church built in 1875 that was demolished last summer. We all watched with a certain horror and morbid fascination as the building was first mortally wounded with its side gouged out…and then ultimately ripped down.  

I remember telling you then at our launch last year that on the worst of days I was always cheered by the fact that the pyramids are safe…. as long as they stay in Egypt because in Prince Edward County we would have ripped down those piles of rocks a long time ago.  

It’s a year later. We have had a municipal election, and heritage was actually an election issue. I believe that’s the first time that has ever happened here. And so the election is over, but the problem is not.  

In fact, we have just a short distance from here, two buildings along our Main Street that can be considered as part of the “endangered species list.”  

The Royal Hotel was built in the early 1880s in anticipation of a new upscale traveler that would come to visit as a result of the completion of the railway. That didn’t happen because the railroad went under…and the Royal soon followed. And yet under new management, the Royal did become a successful hotel and an enduring icon of our Main Street. Now it’s future is again very uncertain. The roof is in bad shape…and the building is under bankruptcy protection.

A second building is the Downes House behind the Bank of Montreal across from the cenotaph. We produced a History Moments last year about this house built by Capt. John Pepper Downes in the 1850s. Downes was the town clerk back then, but he was also a talented artist who left us 12 remarkable pencil sketches of early life here. The building is in poor shape…and unless it can have a future that justifies the expense of restoring it, it too faces a grim future.  

I would add a third building that we are not yet talking about. It’s the massive United Church in Picton that has – like most churches – a declining congregation, and considerable overhead. I used to ask my Uncle Jack Ward “What’s going to happen to the church?” He said last year around this time that there wasn’t a problem because there were 4-5 people like him who could afford to drop $100 – $200,000 into the building. My Uncle Jack died last winter…now there are only 3-4 people with the kind of deep pockets to keep the building going.   Last winter, as well, one of our municipal buildings – a town hall in Demorestville – unexpectedly had its roof collapse.   

If you tear down…or lose by neglect…all the special places in your community, you have to ask, “What’s so special about my community?” And the sad answer to that is “Nothing.” Heritage has an incalculable cost when you lose it because it is never, ever coming back.  

We too are aging along with our buildings. I’m not as old as the Royal… although from time to time, my son thinks my roof could use a little repair.  

I could name you a dozen organizations in Prince Edward County on the verge of folding. It’s just demographics really…. the 9.8 million boomers and their parents are getting older.  

Municipal governments should be concerned about this because the thousands of volunteers hours that are given – for free – each year to maintain heritage properties like The Regent, Glenwood Cemetery, our five museums, and other properties, are not going be there much longer…. The millions of dollars raised by volunteers in communities all across Canada for a wide range of worthy causes – for free – may not be there in a few years either… The big question is “What’s going to happen when you and I can’t do the work we do anymore?  

I believe it’s a great folly to think that things will always be the way they’ve always been, just because they have always been. We may very soon witness a sort of collapse of communities as all these groups…and the heritage properties they maintain…can’t go on any longer.   So what’s to be done?  

I believe we have to begin having that a candid discussion about the future. There is simply no way that this county…or any other – can afford the cost of heritage preservation in the future…. unless…. we all begin to embrace profound, systemic change.   

Most heritage organizations are small, fragile, volunteer groups. They may not have  staff…and they have no money. And they have no plan for the future. They are “heritage beggars” dependent upon dwindling government grants, hard-pressed local governments which view them as “municipal loss leaders,” and the charity of their communities to support them.   I have spent much of my life working with non-profit organizations as an Executive Director, board member and chair, volunteer and consultant. Over the last decade, I have worked with a volunteer board to restore a heritage property, The Glenwood Cemetery in Picton.  So I have lived the concept I am presenting to you today. And the concept is this:   Every community has its stories to tell.  These are often hidden away in the collections of museums, libraries, cemeteries and archives. But this “hidden history” can be transformed into “popular history” – goods and services that meet the worldwide consumer demand for history and heritage. In this way, history and heritage can be considered a commodity that can be mined and refined, processed and packaged, marketed, distributed and retailed just like any other product.   Heritage organizations are storehouses of history – “history factories” – that can become “profit centres” if only we developed the untapped potential lying dormant in our communities to develop a “heritage economy.”   

The Marketplace for History   History is one of the top three reasons why people travel after family and friends.   

The History Channel links advertisers with a consumer demographic – 9.8 million boomers and their parents who are now engaged in the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of the world. This is news to my Mother, but I am telling you this is happening.   

Every month, 68 million people around the world Google the word “history.” They’re looking for history…and we have it. And we have the means to reach them through new technologies.  

Gettysburg, PA makes $91 million/year and has created nearly 2,500 jobs from the 1.2 million people who visit annually. Every year, they tell the same story  of three days of history forged in the 1860s during the Civil War….and make $91 million dollars. 

So why don’t we tell our stories to the world and develop a “heritage economy”?  

History can be expressed in a great many ways. We need to develop our own line of heritage products such as:  

– Specialty wines and foodstuffs

– Videos, books, plays, music, lectures, and bus, walking, and historic house tours, and crafts Could we make quilts that tell the story of the War of 1812? Or the story of John A. Macdonald’s time in Picton in the 1830s to celebrate his 200th birthday in 2015?  

Could we make reproductions of artifacts, which celebrate Samuel Champlain’s visit here almost 400 years ago? I asked my friend artist Bruce Milan this week whether he could make an astolabe as a product we would sell to celebrate Champlain’s visit. I told him it didn’t have to work. I don’t think this early navigational equipment worked all that well for Sam. Let’s face in those days, you either turned left or right and you discovered some place. If you went straight ahead, you just fell off the edge of the world…in which case, you discovered space.  

– Could we have period events (re-enactments for the War of 1812 bicentennial, the 400th anniversary of Champlain’s visit in 2015, and the 200th birthday of Sir John A. Macdonald in 2015)  

– Could we work with the small army of volunteers who each year bring you the Picton Fair? The fair was 175 years old last year. We did a History Moment about that. But it won’t have a 200th birthday. The fair is brought to you by an older group of volunteers…could we work with them to transform the fair into an 1880s period fair so we are all in costume, we empty the museums of displays from the period, we ask our chefs to prepare period meals, our wineries and breweries to make heritage wines and beers to celebrate the event…. We have Taste The County help with the marketing…. Could we in this way ensure the fair has a secure future as yet another of our heritage products.  

– Could we help support The Macdonald Project?  

John A. Macdonald spent his early years in the Picton area and as a teenager, he practiced law there in the 1830s. The Macdonald Project is an initiative to erect a bronze sculpture of him in Picton during the 200th anniversary of his birth in 2015. This project and Macdonald’s birthday have the potential to be a major local, regional and national event.    

– Can we support The Miss Supertest Celebration

– August, 6,7th, 8th 2011?   50 years ago this August, the Canadian race boat Miss Supertest captured her third

– and last

– victory in the Harmsworth international races held in Picton.   

On August 6,7,8th we will celebrate this sports history with the launch of a Canada Post commemorative stamp honouring the boat, and a weekend of boat displays and activities. I’m going to show you an excerpt of a documentary we are making that will play at The Regent as part of that anniversary weekend.    

I believe heritage is ultimately about money. If it’s money that is causing us to lose our heritage, can we make money out of heritage? The answer is yes.   

We have infinite supplies of the raw resource – history;   

We have access to a skilled labour force, our creative community, who can express history and heritage in a wide range of unique, popular history products;   

We have a retail system already in place – our museums, archives, libraries, schools, and cemeteries throughout Eastern Ontario; 

We have an existing marketing arm in tourism organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, Taste The County, and other groups already marketing this special place;   

And we have a worldwide marketplace for history… in addition to the marketplace here – the 700,000 people who visit us every year.  Why don’t we sell them $100 worth of history during their stay, and develop a heritage economy worth over $70 million dollars annually?  

The profits we make from our heritage economy can be re-invested in our heritage infrastructure through a revolving venture capital loan fund that provides long-term, low-interest loans to developers like the owners of the Royal Hotel and the Downes House so that they can create jobs, a tax base, and restore a heritage building.  

Until we can find ways to finance ourselves, we will always be heritage beggars. We will watch our landmark buildings and special places disappear and be unable to intervene; our organizations will simply age and tire and fade from view in the coming decade; and we will not be a factor in shaping an alternative vision for our communities that embraces and respects the past. We will –at best – watch from the sidelines.   

We need to think bigger. No amount of bake sales, silent auctions, or bottle drives is ever going to save a heritage building.   

We need to act collectively to share limited resources. We need to complement each other rather than compete. We need to become the sum of our parts rather than remain as isolated and largely irrelevant organizations.   

We can’t continue to be the Sleepy Hollow of history, the Rip Van Winkle of heritage any longer. We need to awaken to the enormous potential of developing our own business and a heritage economy. That’s why history and heritage matters.   So as you watch this year’s History Moments series, know that there was a high cost to the heritage we have…and that we need to find a way to safeguard – rather than squander – this great legacy.    

The History Moments are all sponsored by local businesses and organizations. I would like to thank our 2011 sponsors:  

1.The Adolphustown-Fredericksburg Heritage Society

2. The Black Prince Winery

3. The Glenwood Cemetery

4. The Hastings Prince Edward District School Board

5. Loch Sloy Business Park

6. Lafarge North America  – Bath Plant

7. The Loyalist Parkway Association

8.  The Mohawk Learning and Cultural Centre 

9. The Museums of PEC

10. The Picton Business Improvement Association

11. The Picton Gazette

12. The Sandbanks Provincial Park and The Friends of The Sandbanks    

I would also like to thank the people I work with to bring you this series each year – Lynn Pickering is co-producer and writer, Sandy Foreman does all our photography, Jacques Dumas of Ottawa is our audio specialist and French producer, Adam McLaren and Ben Quaiff help with the camera work, Daniela Testolini of Dolphin Media in Ottawa is our editor, Precision Transfer Technologies in Ottawa provide duplication services, and They Integrated of Belleville look after our website.   

I have to be creative in managing them because I ask them to do the impossible all the time. Last year, I can tell you that morale picked up appreciably when I announced that the Black Prince Winery was one of our new sponsors. They were a bit disappointed this year when my plans to have a History Moments on the cheese industry of Prince Edward County didn’t happen. It’s another wonderful story…but their thinking was that now that we have all this wine, we really should have some cheese to go with it. Well…maybe next year!  

These are very talented people…. and when you watch this, you will see their work, not just mine. Here now is the 2011 History Moments series.



We’ve been working on something else lately as well – a documentary that will play at The Regent on Monday, August 8th as part of the Miss Supertest celebration that takes place that weekend. I hope you’ll participate in this celebration because this is a once-in-a-lifetime event, the launch of a commemorative stamp honouring Canadian sports history that was made here 50 year ago this summer. I’d like to thank another member of our creative community, Barry Silverthorn of The Electric Wallpaper Company, for his video work in taping the Toronto Boat Show last January…and driving through a wild snowstorm with us to get there.  


RUNS: 5:36    

The Miss Supertest event is a celebration of our water heritage. We hope to make this into an annual event. It’s all part of the “big picture” thinking so that we don’t value heritage so much as a  “warm and fuzzy” – a vague, cultural asset…. an afterthought…a last priority…the luxury we can never afford.  Instead, we need to consider it as an untapped commodity –“ a hidden wealth” that can drive our local economies because heritage is ultimately about money…. and big money at that.  

So some of us have started the work that needs to be done… We’re the little company with the big idea…and we’re partnering with heritage organizations in our community …and others…. to make this happen. But the work of the few needs to become the work of many if we are to succeed. We all need to become pioneers for another period.  

I think this begins with public education…. with community engagement….with product development so we develop a heritage economy. We need to make money. We need to make History.  

I’d like to invite you to join us now for a reception featuring History Lives Here wine made for us by the Black Prince Winery…. and don’t forget our walking tour tonight at 6:30 at The Glenwood Cemetery. And thank you very much for being with us today.