As many County attractions have discovered, there’s strength in numbers. At a recent Ameliasburgh Heritage Village event, Beverly Sprague reports, the organizers were pleased to be hosting some visitors all the way from Honduras. “We even had somebody from Ameliasburgh!” she laughed. Ms. Sprague, President of the Marilyn Adams Genealogical Research Centre and Chair of the Ameliasburgh Heritage Hub, knows how difficult it is to get on the map.
Following the cue of Peter Lockyer’s “History Lives Here” project, Ms. Sprague’s Research Centre is combining with the Heritage Village (one of the five County museums), the Quinte Educational Museum and Archives, the Al Purdy Public Library, and the Al Purdy A-frame Association to create a Heritage Hub, a way of getting some attention as a cultural destination.
“It’s a community of like-minded heritage groups,” said Janet Comeau, Secretary-Treasurer of the AHH. Hitherto it has been difficult to coordinate the resources of these individual, volunteer-led associations.
There are new signs for the village’s Heritage Trail. The trail has always been there, but, with the generous support of Sprague Foods (whose family has County roots six generations deep), its signs have been updated. They now include QR codes that will produce a map and further information on visitors’ phones, showing how all of these once isolated attractions are linked. Additionally, local clubs and organizations have been able to join in. Each group is able to let the others know their plans. Coordination of events could make for a package of attractions for visitors.
The unveiling of the new signs marked the coming to fruition of the idea of the Heritage Hub. The success of recent events such as Princess Amelia’s 240th birthday, marking the anniversary of the village’s namesake, gives the Hub organizers confidence that their idea is working. Future events include Heritage Day, which coordinates with the Ameliasburgh Fall Fair on 23 September, as well as Christmas in the Village.
The connections may spread wide. Ameliasburgh Heritage Village is a County Museum, and these networks overlap. Similarly, the County library system benefits from this Heritage Hub. Helping friends in need, the Genealogical Research Centre has housed some of the materials from the Quinte Educational Museum and Archives while the QEMA is in transition.
The Al Purdy A-frame Association makes apparent the mutual benefits for these institutions. Once home to the great Canadian poet, the A-Frame has, since 2014, become home to a series of writers-in-residence. While offering the benefits of retreat, it is also connected with the Ameliasburgh Heritage Hub. One recent writer in residence, Queen’s University’s poet and professor Armand Garnet Ruffo, spent three weeks at the A-frame working on a book set in 19th-century Canada.
“I have to say first that the residence was the perfect place for a poet to find the solitude and inspiration it takes to get words down on paper — or onto a blank screen,” said Mr. Ruffo. But he found connections to local heritage by visiting the Genealogical Research Centre and the Al Purdy Public Library. “These resources really helped give me a feel for life in the County, past and present.” He also found himself cycling on the Millennium Trail, “weaving through farming country, imagining the Loyalists clearing the land and laying down the plans for the farms that would provide shelter and sustenance for many, while at the same time displacing the local Indigenous populations — such are machinations of history.” Walking through “a hidden gem,” the Ameliasburgh Heritage Village, was “to walk through time,” he added, noting how integrated the area and its history are.
One hopes that all visitors—from near and far—will experience this integrated history. The Ameliasburgh Heritage Hub brings together its variety of resources in a new and compelling way. For more information, visit facebook.com/AmeliaburghHeritageHub.