The HWTProject Celebrates Historic Westmeath Township
Welcome to our travels through Historic Westmeath Township. This HWTProject started in 2013. It has been only a few months in the making, but several generations in the living. It is a salute to those generations that have come before.
A collection of township seals and crests used through the years with the earliest, at the upper right, showing Westmeath in Upper Canada. The images were taken from the pages of the Westmeath Township Council Minute Books.
This township is located in the Upper Ottawa River Valley in Eastern Ontario, Canada, approximately 90 minutes west of Ottawa, our nation’s capital. In 2001 the venerable old township joined with the adjacent municipalities of Ross, Cobden and Beachburg to form a new amalgamated Township of Whitewater Region.
Westmeath Township is embraced by the big bend of the Ottawa River.
Because of its location in the big bend of the Upper Ottawa River, where it juts northward into the Laurentian Hills of Quebec, the Westmeath Peninsula was very much defined by its river shoreline. This main water travel route into the frontiers of the New World meant that natives, explorers, traders, lumbermen and settlers all arrived on its shores, -thus making Westmeath Township one of the oldest of the townships in the Valley and one of the most beautiful and scenic.
Westmeath Township was a rural municipality, which from its inception was unable to provide either full employment or full educational opportunities to its young. For nearly two hundred years, (179 to be exact), a large percentage of its young people have had to move away to seek their fortunes. By now thousands around the world can trace their roots to Westmeath. Perhaps this website will help them reconnect to “Home”.
I encourage you to take up the invitation to submit material to this website by using the “Submissions” page. Or just let us know what you think of this website in “Your Voice”.
Please enjoy your time with the HWTProject and visit often; both here digitally and in person in the “Big Bend”.
Gayle McBride Stewart
The HWTProject.ca website Copyright Notice.
Acknowledgments and Thank You
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The HWT Project is generously sponsored by the Riverview Seniors Social Club, No. 802. This group started in Westmeath in 1964 and over the past 50 years has continued to provide a congenial gathering spot to socialize and enjoy good fellowship in a fun environment. This group, serving Westmeath, Perretton, LaPasse and Beachburg, currently has around 100 members from all walks of life and the Club is a member of the United Senior Citizens of Ontario, http://www.uscont.ca.
When approached about possible sponsorship of the HWT Project, the Club members, without hesitation, decided to fund the website; with the sentiment that: “This is exactly the sort of thing we as elders should be doing for our community.” A sincere Thank You goes to its membership for helping to keep local history alive.
This Project began as a volunteer exercise to make early pioneering days on the Westmeath Peninsula come alive digitally. Many other area volunteers are also hard at work making sure the story is not forgotten. I encourage you to use other important, history –preserving, local organizations, – all run by volunteers, – and read one premier historian and author in particular: Evelyn Moore Price.
Access to important source documents was made possible by two groups in particular. The first was the Region of Whitewater Township, www.whitewaterregion.ca, councilors and administrative staff, especially Annette Mantifel, who have been very supportive and allowed the use of the early Westmeath Township Council Minute Books.
Similarly, the North Renfrew District Women’s Institute granted permission for materials from the Westmeath, Beachburg, and Laurentian View Tweedsmuir Books to be used as source materials. Thanks go out to all the women, who through the years, compiled these history books with such pride and diligence, – they all deserve our gratitude. Their work kept their community’s stories alive for later generations in pictures and writings, to fulfill the Institute’s motto “For Home and Country”.
I should note that the Women’s Institute started very early here. The Beachburg W.I. in 1904, and the Westmeath and Forester’s Falls branches in 1905; thus making them some of the oldest in the province.