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Introduction

Whether you are a visitor to our community, are researching your family roots, need background on an historic building or are just interested in local history, this website is your one-stop source of information on our heritage. 

The site offers you a glimpse of the history of Dufferin Municipality from the pre-settlement era to the post–1870 influx of homesteading families, and from the arrival of the railways to the rise and decline of the small towns and communities along its path.

You will also discover the wealth of historic buildings, cairns, plaques and other heritage resources that our communities have to offer.

Let us know of any omissions or errors. If you have information or photos you’d like to share, please contact us. Check out this site each month for our Special Features, including vintage photos from the area.

Please visit our Acknowledgements page, which recognizes the many people who contributed towards making the website possible, including the backbone of any endeavour—the volunteers who contributed material, researched, edited or proofread content, and gave in so many ways of their time and talents.

News and Events: January 2017

ABANDONED MANITOBA. Gordon Goldsborough’s introduction to his fascinating new book “Abandoned Manitoba” was the highlight of the recent Dufferin Historical Museum  AGM. The book is based on his many years sleuthing out sites of interest across the province for the Manitoba Historical Society website and his weekly talks on CBC’s Weekend Morning Show.
  
The show’s host, Terry Macleod, aptly describes the author as a “walking, talking, insatiably curious story-telling machine.” *  His enthusiasm for his subject and the fact that his early roots were in the Graysville/Stephenfield area ensured that the evening was a special treat for the local audience.

* From Foreword  to Abandoned Manitoba: From Residential Schools to Bank Vaults to Grain Elevators, by Gordon Goldsborough, Great Plains Publications, p.7.

LIFE STORIES. Have you written your life story yet? Or recorded your parents’ or grandparents’ tales of their early days? It seems more often these days that our good intentions (“We must talk with …”) are turning into regret (“Too bad we never got around to…”). 

This maybe the best time of year to get started writing or collecting life stories.  

Most of us are still basking in the glow of the holiday season when stories shared at family gatherings brought memories of the past.  And of course now we are wondering what to do with these snow-bound winter days.

Why do it? I was struck when working on our cemetery project by the fact that all that many of us leave behind in this world are a name and dates on a gravestone.  That thought was reinforced by a poem titled “You are Gone” written by a newly-widowed friend.  It read in part: “You are gone and there is no one here/ Who remembers us when we were young and fair …./ I sit and recall again those days of distant past / And fondle all those memories like precious stones / I know they’ll disappear one day / as if they’d never been, / But, oh, to have someone / Remember us when we were young, / after I am gone.”  [Marjorie Cover Maxwell]

Lack of information is frustrating for those of us who dearly wish they knew more about their ancestors — who they were, their interests, how they spent their spare time, the attitudes and values of the day, or how the world changed during their lifetime. 

Our grandchildren were here from Australia this year for their first white Christmas. When 14-year-old Sean left a note saying “I just wanted to say thank you for all the great memories you have given the family, especially me!”  it wasn’t just the exciting new memories of snowshoeing , tobogganing, helping prepare traditional family recipes or visiting with relatives. It also referred to hours spent browsing through old photo albums and video clips, hearing stories of holidays and people past and reading life stories of family members — all of which gave him a sense of roots and global family connections. 


Family Christmas 1940s – only three of the people in the photo are still alive to recall these family gatherings.

Getting started. The biggest problem with life stories is getting started.  How do you begin writing or recording a lifetime of memories? And how do you persuade older relatives, who argue that they haven’t done anything worth talking about, that they have a rich legacy to leave for their family? Here are a couple of strategies that might help you get started:

Have everyone write a brief story of their life for your next family reunion. Put someone in charge of the project, have family members lend a hand with the very young and the elderly and compile a book of memories.  People will highlight what’s important to them, most will leave out stories they’d rather forget, but you will have the basic information — their family connections, where they lived and went to school, what they do for a living or aspire to do in the future, with probably a few early memories of other family members. It takes a bit of work, but if updates are added at each subsequent reunion, a rich compilation of family profiles is quickly built up.

Invest in a tape recorder. It’s a great gift for parents or that family member who has everything. The new compact, high quality tape-recorders make it easier to interview a family member or to record your own history. A huge bonus of recording life stories is that it captures the added richness of hearing the person’s voice. You may have to be present to get the memories on a roll. Think ahead of time about general areas to explore — such as school days, special events, holiday traditions, then prompt them with open-ended questions and sit back for one of the most informative and rewarding times of your life. You likely will end up having to spread taping over more than one session. A bonus these days is that the new recorders plug into your computer so you can readily transfer the interview to other media. More importantly, the interview can be digitally shared with others so more than one copy exits.

Future genealogists may have a different problem — that of wading through reams of social media material, masses of photos and personal details such as what their ancestors had for breakfast, what they think of climate change or the recent U.S. election. Can you imagine the excitement of finding amongst all that data a thoughtfully recorded life story, in an ancestor’s  own voice? 

Organize a group or sign up for a workshop on writing life stories.  It’s a great way to get started. You can expect to be inspired by the memories of others and reminded of experiences you had long ago tucked away in the back of your mind.

It just happens that the CDMHAC has talked about organizing a workshop for anyone who wants to get started writing or recording a life-story. Would you be interested in joining a workshop on writing your life story or on genealogy ?   If so, you can contact us through this website or watch for our next update.

Recent History

Earlier news items are stored on a separate "Recent History" page.