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Visual legacies to celebrate County’s 225th birthday for generations to come

A community photograph around the County 225 barn quilt is the first in another legacy project of the 225 committee, a photo inventory of 225 reasons to love Prince Edward County, to be made available for promotional and educational purposes in the the future.

It was the perfect day for a picnic to celebrate Prince Edward County’s 225th birthday, Sunday, July 16.

Community members gathered around the historic Crystal Palace at Picton Fairgrounds to enjoy picnic lunches and entertainment by fiddler Luke Norton while they awaited the unveiling of a commemorative barn quilt – marking both the County’s 225th birthday and Canada’s 150th year.

“While there have been many changes over the years in Prince Edward County, we must never take for granted the importance of the land through agriculture, our special rural lifestyle and our sense of community whereby those in need will be assisted by those who can, and the feeling of being ‘home’,” said councillor Steve Ferguson, president of the County’s Historical Society and acting mayor, bringing greetings on behalf of council for the event, noting Mayor Robert Quaiff was called away.

“The celebration honours the efforts and visions of so many people who have lived and visited here over the centuries from Indigeneous peoples to Champlain, the Loyalists, soldiers of the War of 1812, to Air Force trainees from England, Australia and Canada, to Dutch Immigrants following World War Two,” said Ferguson. “Recently we’ve seen the arrival in recent years of immigrants and in recent years, the abundant number of tourists who contribute to our economy – some of whom will stay and establish roots here and further develop our community, perhaps for generations to come.

“It’s been a great year to celebrate milestones,” said MP Neil Ellis, bringing greetings from the House of Commons. “Whether it’s this community, neighbouring cities, or Canada, it all brings us together and it all builds community. It puts unity in our community,” he said. “I’m happy to present this certificate to all the volunteers here who help make this such a great place to live. Without our volunteers we wouldn’t be able to have events like this. I’d put the volunteers in the riding against all others in Canada as we do have the best people who live, work and play here.”

MPP Todd Smith and family attended the celebrations and brought greetings from the province.

He noted great debate in the Ontario Legislature recently as to just how old the province actually is.

“We’ve been celebrating Ontario 150 as well, but the first meeting of parliament in Ontario happened 225 years ago this coming September down in the Niagara region so there are some older folks in the Legislature that feel we should be celebrating Ontario 225, not 150,” said Smith.

But was pleased to mark the County’s milestone. “Prince Edward County is beautiful, is growing and is changing, in my opinion, for the better.

He quoted Canada’s first Prime Minister Sir John A Macdonald, once a County resident, saying ‘We have a great country and we shall have one of the best countries in the universe if we preserve it’. Smith noted celebrations like the County’s 225th and the many groups here that work to preserve its history deserve hearty congratulations.

“On this day – July 16, 1792 – Governor John Graves Simcoe established the territory of Upper Canada, which established Prince Edward County,” said historian Peter Lockyer in his address to the community. “We’re one of the few jurisdictions that has survived the centuries with our name intact.”

Lockyer noted the County was named after Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent, the fourth son of Britain’s King George III (as was Prince Edward Island). Prince Edward was the father of Queen Victoria and many of the County’s townships were named after his children.

“Simcoe was a great figure in history… a rising star within the British military, ultimately gaining the post of Lt.-Gov. of Upper Canada,” said Lockyer. “Legend has it that the Simcoes (John and wife Lady Elizabeth had 11 children) visited PEC and stayed in the stone house of Daniela Reynolds that still exists along the water side of Wellington’s Main Street.”

Lockyer, as emcee of the celebration, introduced the other members of the Canada 150 / PEC 225 committee who planned the event and several others to unfold in the months to come.

“We’ve been working on a number of projects since the committee was appointed by council last December,” he said, including the development of the County 225 website, creation of the 225 logo, development of a database of community groups for ongoing partnerships, the planting of trees in each County ward this fall, and encouragement of the public to plant indigeneous trees, the creation of the barn quilt and launch of a database of photos of 225 reasons to love Prince Edward County, to be made available for promotional and educational purposes in the the future.

“These are all legacy projects that will have enduring value to residents and visitors in the years following this special anniversary year,” he said.

Committee member Pam Piercey explained the symbolism of the colours and barn quilt design, as it was unveiled.

“A visual legacy was a key element for our committee,” said Piercey. “We wanted to leave reminders to be enjoyed now and in the future. What better way to do this than to erect this quilt, joining 100s of others along the Barn Quilt Trail along our County landscape.”

She explained the County’s agricultural history is reflected through the colours:
brown – represents the earth and the furrows in our fields; the green our market crops;
red – the apple orchards and strawberry fields, maple leaves and our many red barns;
light purple is to remind of the many lilac groves and lavender;
purple – the vineyards and their grapes;
orange – the pumpkins in the fields;
gold and yellow highlight barley crops, corn fields and unforgettable sunrises and sunsets blue representing spectacular County skies and water that surrounds the island.

“On the red barn, you will see the friendship star, painted here to recognize the Indigenous peoples who made this County home for many generations. The purple and white of the star are the same colours of the flag of our neighbours and friends of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.”

“There are many ways we can celebrate this important year,” suggested Ferguson, including “planting a tree on your property, creating time capsules, hold a reunions, and, consider how fortunate we are to live where we do.”

Creators and painters of the quilt were Pat Dubyk, of the PEC Barn Quilt Trails, Trish Hornsby, Gail Henderson and Pam Piercey following the vision of Wendy Lane and Shirley Lewchuk.

Dawn Ayer, Chair of the Canada 150 PEC 225 committee, with an example of a native sapling and the commemorative plaque that will be placed this fall in all the County’s wards. She notes the community is being encouraged to plant their own trees and are able to acquire the plaques to mark the milestone. “The idea is that 10, 50, even 100 years from now people will say ‘Hey, that was a pretty incredible year.’

Families and friends enjoyed a picnic on the grounds of the Crystal Palace at Picton Fairgrounds.

Luke Norton, of Picton, provided fiddle music for guests attending the County’s 225th birthday community picnic.

MP Neil Ellis thanked volunteers with the Canada 150 PEC 225 committee including Peter Lockyer, Dawn Ayer, Ford Roseborough, Susanne Barclay, Ken Dewar, Steve Ferguson, Shirley Lewchuk, Pam Piercey, Kasey Rogerson and municipal staff member Wendy Lane.

MPP Todd Smith congratulated the committee members on their work to honour history and create legacy projects that will honour the past, in the future.

Kasey Rogerson and other committee members served up 225 cupcakes at the closing of the community picnic celebration of the County’s 225th birthday.

Following the celebration community members chatted around the newly-unveiled commemorative barn quilt.


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