Oxford Historical Society 2021

Postcard from the Don Wilson Collection

Dear Members,

As President of the Oxford Historical Society, I would like to introduce the Executive Board for 2021:

  • President: Kathie Richards
  • Vice President: Vacant
  • Treasurer: Elaine Becker
  • Secretary: Laura Centore
  • Membership: Judy Klages
  • Archives: Eleanor Gardhouse
  • Communications: Laura Centore
  • Members at Large: Don Wilson & Jim Groulx
  • Museum Liaison: Karen Houston

These are the same people who served in 2020 with the same vacancy in the Vice President’s position. We do encourage members to nominate someone who would be willing to serve on the Board.

While 2020 was a difficult year due to Covid-19, we are hoping for a better 2021.

Since we are unable to hold in person meetings at this time, your board is working towards offering presenters via Zoom. We hope to have the first of many public meetings in March.

Even though the Society had to scale back operations, we were able to respond to numerous research questions, produce 4 Pattullo Press newsletters, and keep in touch with our members through our blog. We will continue to do so during 2021.

In 2021 we hope to publish a new book and possibly republish an old favourite!  In keeping with the modern times, we are looking at offering some of our publications as eBooks.

It was decided that over the next few years we will look at digitizing our collection and allocate the holdings to other appropriate organizations, with the goal of eliminating the Resource Centre. This decision was based on several factors – not enough volunteers to staff the centre, the expense of maintaining the centre (in excess of $6000.00 annually between rent and insurance), and there are now other organizations better suited to maintaining an archival collection like the Woodstock Museum, NHS and the Oxford County Archives.

Even without the Resource Centre the Society will still participate in events like the Spirit of Christmas Tour of Homes, publish member’s works, organize speaking events, publish the Pattullo Press, respond to inquiries and perform many other functions as we do now.

The Society is continuing to research grant and funding opportunities. In the past we have received grants from the City of Woodstock, the Federal government, and Oxford Community Foundation.

We will keep you informed.  Do keep in touch with us and other Historical Society members.

Kathie Richards

Community Partners & Sponsors

The Oxford Historical Society would like to thank the Canadian Heritage Museum Assistance Grant Program for the generous grant that we received. This grant will be used in maintaining our Resource Centre, which is home to a large number of documents and records relating to Oxford County.

Along with the Canadian Heritage Grant the Society also receives grants from other organizations like Oxford Community Foundation and the City of Woodstock. These grants enable us to publish books, bring in guest speakers, hold special events like the Christmas Tour of Homes, and take part in many activities throughout the year.

The Society throughout the year works with many different organizations to bring about various events and publications. The Pattullo Press newsletter is published with the Woodstock Museum, NHS, as were the books Quizzical History and Defined Under Pressure. Together with the WERC centre we offer a Person’s Day celebration, an event held in mid-October to honour women being recognized as Persons and therefore could sit in Canada’s Senate. Tours and teas with the Woodstock Public Library and Château la Motte.

There are many more examples of how the Society and other local organizations have worked together to bring events and share local history with the residents of Oxford County. In honour of these associations a new page was added to our website: Community Partners & Sponsors page!

Archives at Home: Staying Connected with our Community

Hello Everyone,

this next post was written by Megan Lockhart, Archives Technician at the Oxford County Archives

Patterson Family of Eastwood, part of the Spring Garden Party with the Archives

            With the provincial and federal stay home orders underway, archives staff have been working from home for six weeks. This has been an adjustment for not only us but for our patrons as well. Just like many other archives, libraries, galleries, and museums we have had to tap into our creativity to develop innovative ways to stay connected with the community we serve. We have continued to respond to research requests through email but some of our other services are not so easily adapted. Through inspiration from other organizations and institutions and brainstorming between staff we have created a variety of exciting projects including new online activities, virtual programming, and the collection of community stories.

Online Activities

            People are looking for ways to entertain themselves and their children at home. Upon seeing the York University Archives’ online puzzles, we were eager to create our own. This led to our “archival puzzles” initiative. Thirty-five free online puzzles all featuring historical photographs and postcards from the archives are now available online at: jigsawplanet.com/OxfordCountyArchives. Not only do these puzzles provide people with some fun while stuck at home, it also opens a new avenue of interactivity between our community and our archival collections.

Along with the puzzle project new Oxford County themed colouring pages are also now available on our website. We are encouraging people to colour the pages and send their masterpieces to us so we can share them on social media. Adults and children are both welcome to submit! Send your completed pages to archives@oxfordcounty.ca.


            We are also in the process of developing an online exhibit featuring food and recipes from the era of the 1918-1920 Spanish Flu pandemic. Recipes from this time will be featured online in a restaurant menu format. We hope that people will enjoy the exhibit as both educational and interactive if they choose to make the featured recipes at home.

Virtual Programming

One of our most popular programs, Memories from the Vault, has been put on hold temporarily due to COVID-19. As our program coordinator, I applied myself to finding a way to bring the program to our community remotely. I am thankful for our social media platforms as this has allowed me to create virtual video versions of the program which we will be sharing on Instagram during the month of May. The theme is “Spring Garden Party with the Archives”. I will be discussing certain historical springtime trends such as food, fashion, recreation, and leisure. Pictured on the right are two embroidered handkerchiefs from the Archive’s collection. Developing these virtual programs have provided its own challenges, having to film myself speaking, writing a script, and learning the ins and outs of video editing. I am excited to share the videos with everyone online weekly beginning May 12.

Collecting Community Stories

            The Oxford County Archives has entered an exciting partnership with the Woodstock Museum NHS in collecting community stories and records related to COVID-19. We are asking for submissions of photographs, letters, journals, video, audio, artwork or digital text to be sent to museum@cityofwoodstock.ca. These records will be a significant resource for future generations of students, researchers, archivists, and historians. The material will be stored at the museum but the archives will be provided access and a collaborative exhibit will likely be developed in future. To correspond with this project we have established a new educational programme at the archives: “Students Living History”. We are asking local students to submit journal entries and photos outlining their personal pandemic experiences; we would also like to use this material in a future exhibit.

Students please send your personal experiences to museum@cityofwoodstock.ca

            These past few weeks have put things into perspective for us at the archives. It has made us appreciate the internet, and social media which has allowed us to stay connected with our patrons and community partners. It has brought us closer to colleagues in other heritage/cultural institutions. “We are all in this together” is a saying that has really applied to us in recent times. We have been compelled to think outside the box when it comes to how we provide our services. Most importantly, we have realized just how important community connections are and keeping our archival collections visible, relevant, and accessible is a goal we will continue to strive toward even after we return to the archives. Click on Oxford County Archives to go to their web page.

Invitation: Donor Presentation for Reconstruction of the Old Gaol

Hello Everyone,

I am forwarding on an invitation from Oxford County Council:

County Council will formally acknowledge the Flowers family on March 11 for a generous $250,000 donation from the estate of the late R. Bruce Flowers to restore part of the Old Gaol on Buller Street in Woodstock. A light reception and archival display will take place beforehand.

When:     Wednesday, March 11, 2020 
                9:00 a.m. Light reception and Old Gaol display
                9:30 a.m. Council presentation       

Who:        David Flowers, Jim Flowers and Shelagh Morrison, siblings of Bruce Flowers, will be in attendance, with David Flowers speaking 

               Warden Larry Martin will present each family member with a framed photograph showcasing the Old Gaol’s reconstructed features, accompanied by a miniature replica of the donor recognition plaque now affixed to the building

Where:     Oxford County Administration Building
                 21 Reeve Street, Woodstock
                 Main lobby and Council Chamber

The reconstruction project funded by the donation was used at the request of Bruce Flowers to restore the chimneys and bartizans (overhanging turrets) that were removed from the Old Gaol in 1954, a century after it was constructed. The Old Gaol, which currently houses public health services, was built in the Italianate Romanesque style and retains many architecturally significant features, such as Tuscan Gothic detailing and a central pillar foundation that carries the entire weight of the building.

For more information contact:                                        
Chloe Senior, Clerk, Oxford County                                 
519-539-9800, ext. 3001 | csenior@oxfordcounty.ca