Wellesley approves historical plaques for three sites
Woolwich & Wellesley Township's Local Community Newspaper | Elmira, Ontario, Canada
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Wellesley approves historical plaques for three sites

Three new historical plaques will soon be installed to celebrate Wellesley Township history.

Nancy Maitland of the Wellesley Township Heritage and Historical Society received Wellesley council approval last week for three historical plaque installations in the township.

The first is a plaque commemorating the site of the Emancipation Day picnic held on Aug. 1, 1863 on Temperance Island, near Hawkesville. This picnic was held to celebrate the abolishment of slavery in the British Empire, including British North America on Aug. 1, 1834.

The plaque will be located on the walking trail near the corner of Broadway Street and Temperance Road in Hawkesville.

The picnic gathered 2,500 people together in Hawkesville including Black residents of the Queen’s Bush Settlement in Wellesley Township and Southern Peel, as well as other residents and officials from Waterloo County. After a sermon was preached, a band led the gathering to Temperance Island where a large picnic was served.

The second plaque is to bring attention to the history of settler activity on the land where the Heidelberg Meadows subdivision sits. The plaque will emphasize the Hahn Family, a founding family of Heidelberg. Five generations of the Hahn family farmed the land where the subdivision is located, which was developed in 1976.

Maitland asked for $8,200 dollars from the Koehler Estate Fund to install and hold an unveiling ceremony for two new  historical plaques. Her request was unanimously approved.

A set of two plaques will also be installed at the Dewar Bridge, or bridge number 0005, on Chalmers-Forrest Road between Deborah Glaister Line and Streicher Line where the road crosses a tributary of the Nith River. The Dewar Bridge is one of the earliest and more ornate surviving examples of a rigid frame bridge in Wellesley Township, said Maitland. The bridge is slated to be rehabilitated, and the contractor will cover the cost of the plaque installation.

“I thought that was a really innovative and generous thing that the engineering firm included in the contract when it went out to tender,” said Maitland during the township council meeting.

Township chief administrative officer Rik Louwagie asked if this withdrawal would cut into the Koehler Estate Fund’s invested monies. Maitland answered that the money would come from the fund’s uninvested portion, which grows from the interest earned from investments, and currently sits at approximately $49,000.

The fund was donated to the township in 2007 from the estate of Jack Edgar Koehler, and is to be used for Wellesley Township historical purposes.

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