For many years we have advocated that history needs to matter in communities across Canada. And it will matter most if it makes money – as it does in many places in the world. Our view is that we need to develop a “heritage economy” developing locally-made products and services showcasing our history while generating new revenues for heritage organizations.
This month we’re pleased to be part of the product launch of a line of canned goods by Sprague Foods of Belleville celebrating the history of the canning industry in Prince Edward County, once the centre of the trade in Canada. The company’s soups, peas, corns, and beans are packaged in heritage labels originally designed for County canning companies. Profits from the sales of these specialty foods will be donated to a group of heritage organizations in Ameliasburgh to assist them in their projects. We are excited about this innovative initiative because it is a practical example of our “heritage economy” social enterprise business model.



February 7, 2022

Sprague Foods of Belleville is introducing a new line of canned products showcasing the history of the canning industry of Prince Edward County, Ontario – once the centre of the industry in Canada. The new line of canned soups, peas, corn and beans features heritage labels originally designed for local companies during the heady days of the industry from 1880 until the late 1960s when the area was known as the “Garden County of Canada.” Profits from the initiative help support The Ameliasburgh Heritage Hub, a collective of heritage organizations in the village. 

Sprague Foods has its own rich history. The company started in 1925 and is the sole local survivor of the dozens of canning companies that once operated in the region. The company is now in its fifth generation as a family-owned and operated local business. 

“Over the decades, we have kept innovating new products to keep up with an ever-changing market,” says Keenan Sprague, a great- great – grandson of company founder, J. Grant Sprague. “This project continues that tradition of innovation. These vintage labels are beautiful and remind us of a time when local vegetable canners and farmers were thriving. Profits from the project support the work of several local heritage organizations to celebrate and preserve this history. We believe this is a way for consumers to purchase an everyday quality product while learning more about an industry that once meant everything to Prince Edward County.” 

The Ameliasburgh Heritage Hub is a newly – formed alliance of community organizations in the village of Ameliasburgh including the Marilyn Adams Genealogical Research Centre (operated by the 7th Town Historical Society), the Ameliasburgh Heritage Village (one of the five County museums), History Lives Here Inc., and the Quinte Educational Museum and Archives. 

“We’re very excited about the Hub project,” says Janet Comeau of the 7th Town Historical Society. “Over the last year, we and our heritage neighbours have come together in a collective effort to promote the history that is all around us. Partnering with a local business like Sprague Foods to create consumer products which showcase the past, is a novel way of engaging residents and visitors in community history while raising funds to support our efforts.” 

The project features heritage labels from several Prince Edward County canning companies including the Lion Brand produce of canning pioneer, Wellington Boulter, the father of the canning industry in Canada, and other long-established companies like the Sunset Brand produce of John W. Hyatt and Sons. Each product includes a short history about the original canning business.

A launch event at the 7th Town Historical Society office is planned for Tuesday, February 22nd, 2022 starting at 9AM. 

The sale of these goods will be limited to the local Bay of Quinte area and adjacent counties.

Penny Baxter

Sprague Foods
385 College St.
Belleville, ON K8N 5S7
Tel: 613-966-1200
7th Town Historical Society
528 County Road 19
Ameliasburgh, ON K0K 1A0
Tel: 613 – 967- 6291

Flashback February 2019

The second annual celebration of Prince Edward County history – Flashback February – starts Saturday, February 16th, 2019! 

Flashback February Poster

This week-long event begins with a tribute to the infamous Fox Sisters, two teenagers from Consecon who in the 1840s were making $150 a night in the United States as “rappers” – clairvoyants supposedly connecting grieving relatives with their loved ones in the afterlife.  Parapsychologist Scott McClelland bring his paranormal show to The Regent Theatre in Picton to showcase this spiritual history.


Making Waves Program

History Lives Here Inc. is part of the founding group of organizers for the celebration hosting two events – a recital at The Picton United Church on Sunday, February 17th featuring professional organist Murray Baer with a program of contemporary music. The church is one of the County’s most historic landmarks – the site of the first Methodist conference in Canada in 1824. 

We’re also involved in organizing the MAKING WAVES Film Festival at The Regent Theatre on Friday, February 22 from 1 – 3:30 highlighting films on local and Canadian maritime history including a feature documentary on the epic journey of the Polar Prince icebreaker which crossed Canada’s three oceans as part the country’s 150th birthday celebrations in 2017. For tickets and more information on all events, visit

Heritage Week in Prince Edward County

The Prince Edward Heritage Advisory Committee, the Prince Edward
Historical Society, The County Museums, the Prince Edward County Library
and Archives, the Friends of Sandbanks, History Lives Here, and the
Regent Theatre have teamed up to organize Flashback February during
Ontario Heritage Week Feb. 17-25.

“Prince Edward County is a crossroads of history,” says Jennifer Lyons,
Head Curator of The County’s museum system. “This area has been an
epi-centre of the development of Eastern Ontario and Canada’s 150 years
of social, economic, and cultural achievements. That history is all
around us in street names, historic properties, and the cultural
landscapes that make this a special place. We hope to create some
history ourselves by making this an annual celebration of who we are.”

The inaugural Flashback February will include hands-on learning
opportunities, live demonstrations, talks, culinary offerings, film
screenings and stories – all exploring the relationships of past,
present, and future in Prince Edward County. Talented chefs, experts,
curators, artists, and innovators will be on hand to spark conversation,
lead activities, and dig into our rich history.

“We often think of heritage in terms of conservation, but it is just as
important that we take the time to recognize and celebrate our many
cultural, natural, architectural, and archaeological resources that we
strive to protect,” says Robert Quaiff, Mayor, County of Prince Edward.
“Heritage might be our past, but it still informs who we are today. I
look forward to a fun and active exploration of that history throughout
Flashback February.”

Flashback February will kick off with a launch event on Saturday, Feb.
17 from 2-5 pm at Parsons Brewing Company in Picton, one of a number of
local companies pioneering the development of the craft brewing industry
in the area. 

Sunday night features a County-themed Trivia Night hosted by the Museums at the Wellington Legion.

On Monday, Feb. 19 starting at noon, the Friends of Sandbanks Park will
host Family Day outdoor activities at Maple Rest Heritage House at West
Lake. As an indoor option that day, Suzanne Pasternak presents County
History, Legends & Music, an event for kids and grownups. Also on
Family Day, the Friends of the Wellington Heritage Museum will host a
pancake breakfast at the Wellington and District Community Centre from
8-10 am.

Two afternoon lectures at Macaulay Heritage Park anchor the mid-week
events – one by Peter May of Research Casting International in Trenton,
one of three companies in the world making replica dinosaurs for world
museums. The second lecture highlights the work of artist Gesina
Laird-Buchanan of Napanee who creates life-size models of iconic
historical figures like Mohawk leader Molly Brant and artist Tom Thomson
from wool. The Museums and the Libraries will also team up for a series
of demonstrations replicating historical objects through 3-D printing
processes, with sessions for children and general audiences.

A mini Film Fest will be held at the Regent Theatre on Friday, Feb. 23 beginning at 1 pm, presenting films on County history.

Heritage–inspired dinners, prepared by local chefs Lee Arden Lewis and
Michael Hoy, will be held in the evening on Thursday, Feb. 22 and
Saturday, Feb. 24.

During the day on Saturday, Feb. 24, expert Moe Johnson will offer a
presentation about the pottery of early Ontario, including the
Hart-Lazier earthenware that was unique to the Bay of Quinte area.

The week-long celebration concludes Sunday, Feb. 25 with an all-day
Victorian culinary workshop at Macaulay House in Picton, where a
multi-course period dinner will be prepared and enjoyed by registrants.

For more information and to view the week’s schedule of activities,
please visit

To purchase a ticket for one of the heritage-themed dinners or to attend the Film Fest, please visit the Regent Theatre website or call 613.476.8416.