Gord Thompson and I met Dave Zavitz from the Middlesex Centre Archives when we staffed a CFHA booth at the Ontario Genealogical Fair in London in June 2019. Dave, well familiar with CFHA from his own Quaker background, invited us to set up a CFHA display at the Middlesex Centre Archives’ Heritage Fair this last February. This event was in its third year, and it was easy to determine that the event had gained momentum within the historical community. We were very pleased to be invited to attend.
The Municipality of Middlesex Centre is located close to two Quaker meetings: Coldstream Monthly Meeting at Coldstream, and Yarmouth Monthly Meeting at Sparta, Ontario. These Quaker meetings have been held continuously since they were established in the 19th century.
There was a real community feel to the Fair, with many people meeting old and new friends.
There was lots of positive energy there, and the time went very quickly. We were able to raise the awareness of Quaker ancestry to those in attendance. We had in-depth conversations with well over 20 people, many of whom wanted more information about CFHA. Our conversations often started with “Do you have Quaker ancestors?” Sometimes the answer was no, sometimes maybe, and sometimes yes. Visitors were often drawn to the maps of Quaker settlements, often looking for familiar place names. They also really enjoyed reading the “Who are the Quakers?” panels on the display boards. The local Middlesex Banner newspaper representative interviewed both Gord and I, and referenced our booth in their article about the Fair. I was so happy that Gord made the trek from Markham, bringing with him the display materials and his in-depth knowledge of Quaker history. We hope to find ourselves at the Middlesex Heritage Fair in 2021!
It is worth visiting the Middlesex Centre Archives. The Archives includes Quaker materials such as records from the Marsh Store in Coldstream. The Marsh family were Quakers, and it would be great to learn more about the materials the Archives has about the family and their store.
It was not surprising to learn that the Archives have a number of very dedicated volunteers. They have incredible enthusiasm for their work. Thanks to Dave for inviting us!
Here’s the website for the Archives: http://middlesexcentrearchive.ca