The HWTProject Celebrates Historic Westmeath Township
Welcome to our travels through Historic Westmeath Township. This HWTProject was only a few months in the making but several generations in the living. It is a salute to those generations that have come before.
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.
The image above shows a collection of township seals and crests used through the years with the earliest, at the upper right, showing Westmeath in Upper Canada. The seals were taken from the pages of the Westmeath Township Council Minute Books. The image also served a promotional role with postcards showing it, mailed out to everyone now living in old Westmeath Township’s households and farms.
Because of its location in the big bend of the Upper Ottawa River, where it juts northward into the Laurentian Hills of Quebec, it 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, (176 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”.
The sections of the website have their “Introductions” available by clicking on the spine of the book seen at upper left. Please read the intros first before entering the section. Also all the images on the site – and there are a lot – will enlarge by clicking on them; which will save on unnecessary eye strain.
I encourage you to take up the invitation to submit material to this website either specifically about your own ancestors for our “Family Registry”, or general interest items, on Historic Westmeath Township, 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.
Acknowledgements and Thank You
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 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.
- Upper Ottawa Valley Genealogy Group www.uovgg.ca – Diane Burnett and her colleagues maintain so many key documents for us all. Her generosity and wide knowledge is very much appreciated.
- Ross Museum, www.rossmuseum.ca and the Whitewater Historical Society.
- Champlain Trail Museum, www.champlaintrailmuseum.com
- The History of the Corporation of Westmeath Township, written in 1984 by Evelyn Moore Price, is still the “hands-down-best” reference. A frequent go-to volume.
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 Eleanor McLaughlin, Jean MacGregor, the late Evelyn Moore Price, Noreen Desjardins, Christine Raeburn, and Irene Robillard, Tweedsmuir Provincial Co-ordinator. All the women, including my own mother Ellen Anderson McBride, 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.
Next I want to acknowledge the many men and women who volunteer when a community celebration is being put together. This website relied heavily on booklets and materials assembled on those special occasions; a centennial and bicentennial, a school reunion, a homecoming weekend, a commemorative event – and I thank those people who collect and cherish the photos and mementos from the past. People like Bob Grylls, Jane Anderson White, Linda Gervais Bromley, Dave Shields and Susan Johnson Shields, Grace Beach Stephens, Eleanor Dougherty McLaughlin, Diane Moore Mau, Lynn Laporte McMullen, Patti Desjardins, Doreen Lacroix McNair, Pierrette Cottrell, Lorne Spotswood, Arthur and Beryl McBride, Paul Kenny, Herbie Jeffrey, and others. To Robyn and Paul – you always graciously help so much.