Traces of our past: Accent on heritage at this weekend’s Highland Games
A large-scale image of a prestigious landmark, produced in memory of former The
Glengarry News owner Kevin Macdonald, will be formally unveiled at this weekend’s Glengarry Highland Games in Maxville.
The five-foot by three-foot poster of Glengarry House, located on Stonehouse Point east of Cornwall, was made by the Glengarry County Archives from a 1955 aerial photograph of the ruins.
One of the focal points of the heritage tent at the August 4 and 5 Games, the reproduction was made possible by a donation from employees of The News, who made a contribution to the Archives in memory of Mr. Macdonald, who passed away earlier this year.
Principal owner of The News since 2003, Mr. Macdonald was an avid history buff and a strong supporter of the Archives. After his death in April, employees of the newspaper concurred that a fitting tribute would be for them to make a contribution to the Archives in his memory.
County Archivist Allan MacDonald concluded a fitting use for the donation would be
the creation of the Glengarry House poster, with the inscription Traces of our past-Vestiges de notre histoire; Glengarry House on the St. Lawrence; In Memory of Kevin Macdonald.
Taken by Ran-Gal Photos, of Cornwall, the image shows what remained of the mansion which was built in 1792, in what would later become Charlottenburgh Township, by John MacDonell of Aberchalder. Sadly, the heritage site was destroyed by fire in 1813.
The first Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada and a distin- guished military officer, Lieutenant Colonel John MacDonell was part of a wave of Scottish immigrants who arrived here in 1773.
“Kevin’s forebears, the Sandfield Macdonalds, came in 1786,” notes Allan MacDonald.
The Sandfield Macdonalds and the MacDonells were among the families who spurred the development of the region. Weaving the social fabric of the new community, they were active in all aspects of society.
A reminder of that era is Glengarry House, the first stone house in the county. Now only a shadow of its original splendour, the imposing two-storey stone edifice, and its impressive guest list, spoke of the status of the MacDonells.
Lord John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, and Lady Elizabeth Simcoe stopped there, their visit meriting mention in her famous diaries. Lord Thomas Douglas Selkirk also paid his
Poster of Glengarry House was produced in memory of former owner of The News
respect to the MacDonells.
The lives of these prominent pioneers have been well documented. Yet, Mr. MacDonald, despite his vast knowledge of the county’s past, is puzzled by the source of the building materials for Glengarry House.
“There was nothing but trails here at that time,” he notes. Limestone was transported by boat on the St. Lawrence River to the construction site. “Imagine the massive effort it took to get the stone cut and moved there.”
As expected, with the Highland Games marking its 70th anniversary, the heritage pavilion will be particularly compelling this year.
Objects of special interest include a 1797 land deed granted to Cato Prime, a black Loyalist who settled on the Second of Lancaster, a map from 1862 detailing the names of all property owners, a 1912 topographical map describing elevations and gravel pits, and a 1956 soils map. “This includes the location of a special sandy loam that was found only in a small area northeast of Maxville,” relates Mr. MacDonald. A painting of the SS No. 10 school in Loch Garry will draw attention, as will a collage of documents, such as a liquor licence, a school register and a banner from Maxville’s Main Street. Plus, there will be videos and photographs of past Games.