OxHS Board Nominations

Hello Everyone,

It’s that time of year again when the current Oxford Historical Society Board reaches out to its members to see who might be interested in serving on the 2022 Executive.

Our current Board members are:

President: Kathie Richards
Past President: Jim Groulx
Vice President: Vacant
Treasurer/Research: Dr. Elaine Becker
Secretary: Laura Centore
Communications and Newsletter: Laura Centore
Membership: Judy Klages
Archives/Architecture: Eleanor Gardhouse
Board Members at Large: Jim Groulx, Don Wilson
Museum Liaison: Karen Houston

If any member would like to serve on the upcoming Board please email us at info@oxhs.ca.

Board members are voted in at our AGM on Wednesday, January 26, 2022. You must be a member of the Society to serve on the Board. The positions are held for one year.

New Book about Cassie Chadwick

Hello Everyone,

Thomas Crowl’s new book ‘Queen of the Con’ tells the story of Cassie Chadwick, a successful swindler and con woman. In this very well researched book the life of Cassie Chadwick, born Elizabeth Bigley in 1857, tells the story of her life from her humble beginnings to becoming a clairvoyant, a fraudster, an imposter posing as Andrew Carnegie’s illegitimate daughter and many other cons along the way.

This book is available for purchase from Amazon.ca using this link – Queen of the Con: From a Spiritualist to the Carnegie Imposter

Oxford Historical Society & Woodstock Museum Holiday Social December 9, 2021

Hello Everyone,

Please join the Oxford Historical Society and the Woodstock Museum, NHS for a Holiday Social on Thursday, December 9 from 1-4pm.

If you wish to attend the 15 minute talk on the new Heritage database, either at 1:30pm or 3pm, please reserve your spot as space is limited: https://volunteersignup.org/YYWDK

We hope to see you at the Social!

The Village that Straddled a Swamp

Hello Everyone,

The Oxford Historical Society and the Woodstock Museum, NHS are pleased to once again offer this publication for your reading pleasure.

This wonderful book tells the story of Woodstock Ontario, from 1799 until more modern times.

The Village that Straddled a Swamp will be available for purchase at our booth at the upcoming Arts Market in the old Dairy Capital building. It is $25.00 (taxes included), cash only.

This publication can also be purchased by contacting the Society at info@oxhs.ca or at the Woodstock Museum, NHS gift shop.

Christmas in the Square Arts Market

Hello Everyone,

The Oxford Historical Society will have a booth at this year’s Arts Market where we will be selling some publications by our local authors and other items from the Woodstock Museum, NHS. We will only be accepting cash at our booth.

The dates for the Arts Market are:

Friday, November 26 from 5-8pm
Saturday, November 27 from 10am-4pm
Friday, December 3 from 5-8pm
Saturday, December 4 from 10am-4pm
Saturday, December 11 from 10am-4pm
Saturday, December 18 from 10am-4pm

There are also many other events happening downtown Woodstock for the holiday season. The complete list of events can be found on the Christmas in the Square web page.


We are looking for volunteers to help out at the booth. Each shift is three hours.

The following are the shifts that we need filled:

Friday, November 26 from 5-8pm
Saturday, November 27 from 1-4pm
Friday, December 3 from 5-8pm
Saturday, December 4 from 1-4pm
Saturday, December 11 from 1-4pm
Saturday, December 18 from 10am-1pm
Saturday, December 18 from 1-4pm

If you are interested in volunteering at our booth please send us an email: info@oxhs.ca, thank you.

Cross Stitch Patterns of Woodstock

Hello Everyone,

The above cross stitch patterns were designed by Helen Mackenzie. Helen has long admired her adopted home of Woodstock, especially for its preservation of its historical buildings. She has chosen to capture elements of her favourite buildings in cross stitch patterns.

These patterns are available on her Etsy shop page: Blyss Stitch Designs

Complete kits of the patterns are also available for sale at the Woodstock Museum, NHS. The kits include the pattern and all the materials needed – hoop, fabric, needle, embroidery floss etc., to complete each project. Each kit also includes some historical information about the buildings. Contact the Woodstock Museum, NHS for pricing.

Preserving Caroline East’s Home

Caroline East’s Home
685761 Hwy 2, RR #5, Woodstock ON N4S 7V9

Photo by Doug & Kathie Richards

Caroline East’s house, pictured above, was built in 1839 by Henry Vansittart, for his sister Caroline East. It is a brick 14 room Georgian style house in Eastwood, ON. In June of 2020, the City of Woodstock purchased the property from Dr. R. Corlett and are planning to develop the area as the Northeast Industrial Park.

There are many concerns about conserving the house as it is the last remaining house that Vansittart built. Henry Vansittart’s house in what is now called Vansittart Woods was torn down in the 1950’s, and his son John George Vansittart’s house, which was located at the corner of Lansdowne & Dundas, was torn down when Commercial Print Craft bought the property in the 1980’s. It would be a shame to have the last Vansittart house also demolished. More information about Caroline East and Henry Vansittart can be found in the book “The Governor’s Road”, by Mary Byers & Margaret McBurney, on page 239. The book is available from the Woodstock Public Library.

The City of Woodstock has commissioned a study of the Northeast Industrial Park, https:// www.cityofwoodstock.ca/en/city-governance/municipal-studies-and-plans.aspx#Northeast-Industrial- Park-Planning–Servicing-Study

The Oxford Historical Society is asking for the public support in helping to preserve this lovely home. To voice your support please use the above link to read about the proposed land use and how to contact city representatives.

Doug Symons’ Tribute

Hello Everyone,

Please read this guest post from the Woodstock Museum, NHS.

Give a shout out to historical stories!

In honour of the re-release of Doug Symons’ popular book “The Village that Straddled a Swamp”, the Woodstock Museum would like your help in reminiscing about a favourite piece of writing or photo from the book, and also if you have memories of Doug personally you’d like to share.

Please look through the book, choose an article, a photo, a quote or two about a certain local history site or story you find meaningful or interesting to you and share that story with the Museum. We would like to do a short bit of filming to pay tribute to Doug’s writings in a specific local history way. Some memories may be included in an upcoming exhibit related to “The Village that Straddle a Swamp”.

If you want to participate but are unsure of what to highlight we have some prepared prompts for anyone not familiar with the book. A voice recording may also be an option. If possible, we would like to set up a time for you to come into the museum during the first week or two of November.

Contact Kerrie Gill to set up a time at (519) 537-8411 ext. 2903 or kgill@cityofwoodstock.ca    

Forest City Murder: A Wordsfest Online Event

Hello Everyone,

The following post is provided by Words, The Literary and Creative Arts Festival. This is a literary event featuring a list of onsite and online events. It is hosted by Western University and runs from November 5 – 19, 2021.

On Friday, November 12, 2021 at 7pm, via Zoom they will explore two notorious cases of homicide in 19th-century Ontario. The event details are as follows:

Zoom Registration: https://westernuniversity.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_b0-czODtQ-ePiVKmV1pe3w 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/918336352423829 

The story of the Black Donnellys has become a fabled piece of Ontario history. The Donnelly family emigrated from Ireland to the township of Lucan Biddulph in the Ontario countryside. They found themselves, after a few years, in conflict with the local people. In February of 1880, an organized mob murder four Donnelly family members and burn their house to the ground. Another sibling is shot to death in a house a short distance away. William Donnelly and a teenage boy are the only witnesses to the murders. The surviving family members seek justice through the local courts but quickly learn that their enemies control the jury and the press. Two sensational trials follow that make national and international headlines as the Donnellys continue to pursue justice for their murdered parents, siblings and cousin. 

We will visit with John Little who has published a two-volume historical account of the Donnellys (The Donnellys, Volume I: Powder Keg, 1840–1880 / The Donnellys, Volume II: Massacre, Trial and Aftermath, 1880–1916). We will also visit with Keith Ross Leckie whose new novel, Cursed! Blood of the Donnellys, is a fictional account of the notorious family and that time in Canadian history. 

Around the same time, Thomas Neill Cream is suspected of killing a female patient in London, Ontario. He flies to Chicago where he would kill as many as four people. After serving ten years in an Illinois prison, Cream was set free in 1891 – and headed for England to unleash his wrath on the prostitutes of London. In his new book, The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream: The Hunt for a Victorian Era Serial Killer, Dean Jobb explores the story of how Dr. Cream killed as many as ten people in three countries, a rampage that eclipsed the crimes of the notorious Jack the Ripper. The Lambeth Poisoner, as he was dubbed, became one of the most prolific serial killers in history. Jobb reveals how bungled investigations, corrupt officials and failed prosecutions allowed Cream to evade detection or freed him to kill.

Biographies: 

Dean Jobb is an award-winning author and journalist and a professor at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he teaches in the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction program. He specializes in true crime and my monthly column on the genre, “Stranger Than Fiction,” appears in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. His articles and book reviews appear in CrimeReads, Inside History magazine, the Chicago Review of Books and the Washington Independent Review of Books. During my 35-year career as a newspaper staff writer and freelance journalist he has written features and commentaries on an array of subjects – history, current events, law, business, politics, media ethics, science, travel, and the craft of nonfiction.

Keith Ross Leckie, author of Coppermine (Viking, 2010), has worked in the film and television business as a dramatic scriptwriter for more than thirty years. His credits include multiple movies and miniseries, including Everest!, Shattered City, Milgaard, The Arrow and Lost in the Barrens. He is currently working with Bell Media to develop a dramatic series based on Blood of the Black Donnellys. 

John Little is the bestselling author Who Killed Tom Thomson? He has authored over 40 books on subjects ranging from philosophy and history to exercise and martial arts, in addition to being an award-winning filmmaker. Little is a contributor to Salon.com, the Toronto Star, and has been interviewed by CNN, Canada AM, NPR, A&E, People Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, and the Family Channel.

For more information about the above event or to find out about other Wordfest events, please contact them through their website: wordsfest.ca