Alexandria's 200th birthday party kicked off Saturday with a gala where about 250 guests toasted the milestone. Great memories, vintage photos, a theme song and fashions from the past were just some of the highlights of the evening. From left: North Glengarry Director of Community Services Anne Leduc, Councillor Michel Depratto, CAO Sarah Huskinson and Councillor Jeff Manley were among those raising a glass.
Rev. Alexander Macdonell would have approved.
The 200th birthday party for the town he founded had it all -music, history, fancy duds, and a military presence.
About 250 people celebrated the town’s bicentennial Saturday night at a sold-out gala, kicking off festivities to commemorate the establishment of Rev. Macdonell’s Priest’s Mill in 1819.
Seven years earlier he had raised the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles, which came to the defence of Upper Canada in the World of 1812.
“I don’t know if there are any Americans here tonight,” quipped Jesse Pudwell, who along with Jim Mullin, of Vankleek Hill, and Tim Wright, of St-Bernardin, were decked out into Fencibles uniforms. The re-enactors were among the many guests who donned period costumes for the bash which was two years in the making. Father Macdonell, an imposing figure, used his stature and fire and brimstone to recruit soldiers. At one Mass at St. Raphael’s he is said to have declared that no man could leave the church until he had enlisted.
The first Roman Catholic bishop in Ontario would lay the foundation for Catholicism in the region.
Builders and leaders in subse- quent eras were saluted during a slide show by Dane Lanken and Jean-Claude Larocque, who wrote descriptions for the photos in a souvenir book that will be launched March 21.
The selection of 20 photos was a trip down memory lane, beginning with the first major industry, the Munro and McIntosh carriage company, and ending with more contemporary figures, such as the Cholette and Lanthier families, who founded the Moulure Alexandria Moulding and Boulangerie Lanthier Bakery businesses.
Harmony was a theme of the evening as well, with North Glengarry Mayor Jamie MacDonald recalling the “awesome childhood” he enjoyed in a community where anglophones and francophones lived, worked and played side by side.
“This is where it all started,” Glengarry-Prescott-Russell MPP Amanda Simard told the crowd, calling Alexandria an example for the rest of the province.
The soirée included the presentation of a theme song, Glengarry Town, by the Campbell Trio. Composed by Mary Lacelle and edited by Harry Ewen, the number will be launched as part of a CD later this year.
The night culminated with guests dancing to music of The County Lads.
Prizes were handed out for the best period costumes. Singled out were Guy, Claire Bellefeuille; Jacob, Ninon Jeaurond; Chantal, Guy Vaillancourt; Bud and Tina Thompson; Linda Sauvé; JeanClaude, Carole Larocque; Caitlin, Tim Wright; Rosemary Chatterson, Allan MacDonald; Florence Jeaurond.
ALWAYS IN STYLE: (Above left) Chantal, Guy Vaillancourt; (above right) Carole and Jean-Claude Larocque; (below left) Claire, Guy Bellefeuille; (below, right) Jacob, Ninon Jeaurond.
CHEERS, ALEXANDRIA: Michelle DaPrato, Marie-Josée Décoste and Anick Bauer were among the volunteers helping to stage the gala (Centre photo) Caitlin, Tim Wright; (right photo) Florence Jeaurond; (below left) Nadine and Ron Théorêt; (below right) Linda Sauvé.
TALKING SHOP: René Jeaurond wore a furry lid for the occasion. Here he converses with GlengarryPrescott-Russell MPP Amanda Simard.