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Heritage group looks to save local history one page at a time

Wellesley Township Heritage and Historical Society makes available digital versions of a trove of old documents

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Hundred-year-old  documents will give readers a glimpse into life in the post-World War I era, with the Wellesley Township Heritage and Historical Society publishing on its website handwritten ledgers and minutes from that time period.

In particular, writings from 1919-2008 show the early beginnings of the Women’s Institute in the Wellesley area. The Women’s Institute was founded by Adelaide Hoodless in 1897 to provide

rural women with an education, similar to the Farmers’ Institute geared towards men. Their early experiences of their village life, local conditions, issues and needs are described in detail within the digitized texts.

“They ran these short courses – some in cooking, some garment sewing, food safety and things like that,” said Nancy Maitland, the historical society’s curator. “Some of the younger girls in the village who may or may not have been members – they were trying to educate women about safety and good practices in the home. So after this course, the girls would get a certificate and they would be able to know how to garden, canning, all sorts of things like that.”

The Wellesley WI focused on four themes: education, fundraising, good works and social activities. The organization is still going strong to this day with 8,000 members in 672 branches across Canada.

Other records include an even broader 145-year span, beginning in 1853 to 2008, covering all facets of the community. The likes of Wellesley police village minutes, board of health committee minutes, Light and Power Commission minutes, and Bamberg School minutes, Wellesley PS documents and telephone system minutes all make up the published works that the heritage groups has gathered over the years.

“They were donated to the historical society quite a long time before I joined the organization,” said Maitland. “And that was minutes up to the 1900s and then the last secretary before the branch ceased operation got in touch with me and gave me that last volume going up to 2008.

“The very earliest minutes have been lost, so we can only assume they were just as busy in the later volumes.”

The move is in celebration of Heritage Week from February 18 to 23, five days dedicated to “to celebrate heritage in all its forms (cultural and natural, architectural, archaeological and collections), its diverse traditions and cultural expressions.” Continuing to celebrate is a heritage-day themed event on February 23. The Wellesley Township Heritage and Historical Society will host a display about Wellesley’s mills at Wilmot’s Heritage Day Celebration at the New Dundee Community Centre. The WTHHS Historical Room will be open for visitors on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., 1137 Henry St., in Wellesley village The documents can also be found on the group’s website.

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