Sixteen | A Connection to History

The significant reason this project has succeeded is that Oakville and the Trafalgar Township have local historical societies. And while some stories were easier to find and write about than others, it is because of the efforts of these groups that these stores continue. And I’m now honoured to include my takes on these stories to keep them going.

Sixteen | Connections
Graflex Crown Graphic – Fuji Fujinon-W 1:5.6/125 – Arista EDU.Ultra 400 @ ASA-200 – Ilford Ilfotec HC (1+47) 7:30 @ 20C

The Oakville Historical Society starts with Hazel Matthews and her sister Juliette. Both being direct descendants of William Chisholm and having grown up in Oakville, would take ownership of Earchless from their Mother upon her death. While Juliette took up residence in the big house, Hazel converted the old customs house into apartments for herself. The 1856 building had been boarded up since Oakville ceased being a port-of-entry and was closed up with everything left inside. During the renovations of both Earchless and the Custom’s House, the two sisters discovered a treasure trove of documents. Among these included the handwritten ledgers from Robert Chisholm during his time as Custom’s Agent, documents relating to the founding of Oakville and complete blueprints from a 1920s renovation of Earchless. This trove of documents became the foundation of an unofficial historical society for the town. Soon concerned citizens rallied around the sisters, and in 1951 formed the Oakville Historical Society. Through their efforts, they relocated the First Post Office to Lakeside Park. They also located additional documents and artefacts related to Oakville. And with these two buildings opened up a local museum in 1953. The Thomas House would join the post office in 1955. By this point, the society had also begun a campaign to mark the historic building that survived around the community. From homes to businesses and churches, the now iconic white plaques would be affixed, and efforts to preserve their histories were made. And while Earchless and the Custom’s House would become apartments in the 1960s, the historical society never stopped their work. And they were lobbying for the town’s historic estate to be purchased to prevent it from vanishing under a condo development. And their efforts worked, and the customs house would become the new home of the Oakville museum’s growing collection in 1983. And when the last tenants left Earchless, the estate would undergo renovations. Guided by the historical society and using the 1920s blueprints, the entire building was transformed into a larger museum. When it opened in 1991, the town took over the museum’s operation. But the historical society would stay close to their home. Using the two cottages that Hazel and Juliette built on the estate, the society arranged for a lifetime lease on them from the town. Combining the two separate cottages was no easy task, but the society successfully relocated to their new home in 1992. Today the society and the ones in Bronte and Trafalgar Township continue to preserve and educate the past histories of their respective areas.

While it would have been easy to photograph the cottages now home to the historical society, they are not exciting buildings to capture. But along Trafalgar Road, north of the original core of the community, are several exciting and architecturally unique historic homes. Potter’s Folly is among the most unique in this corridor and a favourite of mine. I’m happy with how this one turned out, setting up across the road and using my 125mm lens to get the big picture. Then metered for shadows to the left of the tower and waited for a moment when the traffic stopped in both directions.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.