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Bruce County Historical Society

Bruce County, Ontario, Canada

Incorporated 1901 - 1915       Re-incorporated 1957

Welcome to the Bruce County Historical Society

The Bruce County Historical Society was first organized in 1901 and was active until World War I. In 1957 the society was re-established. We publish a yearbook, Historical Notes, as well as a twice annual newsletter. We meet several times during the year, including for an annual bus tour in the spring and an annual dinner meeting in the fall. The society published its first book, The History of the County of Bruce by Norman Robertson, in 1906, and we continue to provide publications about Bruce County's history. The annual membership fee of $20 includes the yearbook and newsletter, and members receive a 25% discount on our publications.

Our society's goals and objectives are to research, document, collect, preserve and edit material pertaining to the history of Bruce County and its people; to actively promote and encourage public awareness and interest in our local history; to publish new and reprint publications of significance to the history of Bruce County; to disseminate and arouse public interest in Bruce County historical and heritage information by organizing and featuring programmes and promoting discussion at regular meetings; to encourage the preservation and protection of buildings and structures of historical and architectural significance and the protection of our unique natural landscapes; and to mark historic sites, structures, trails, etc..

Donation from the Power Workers' Union for Documentary Project

The Bruce County Historical Society is pleased to announce that the Power Workers' Union has donated $1,500 towards our heritage documentary project "Bruce County - Southern Ontario's Last Frontier".

The documentary, which will be featured on TVO, and is in the pre-production phase with filming to begin later this year.

The documentary also will be made available to county schools. It conforms with Ontario's curriculum and will include lesson plans.

Larry Alderdice, Sector Rep. of the PWU presents
the donation to BCHS President, Irene Howe.
Donation from Ontario Power Generation for Documentary Project

The Bruce County Historical Society (BCHS) are very grateful for the support that Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has given our documentary video project ”Bruce County - Southern Ontario’s Last Frontier”. This cheque presented today brings their total support to $10,000.00. OPG has been a proud corporate member of this community since Ontario Hydro purchased the land around Point Douglas in the 50’s to bring nuclear power to the province. The businesses and people employed by the industry now goes back three generations.

  Pictured (from L to R) Lisa Robertson-Taylor, OPG; Irene Howe, President, BCHS; Heather Convay, OPG; Dorne Fitzsimmons, Treasurer, BCHS.

(photo by Lynda Cain, OPG Senior Communications Advisor /Corporate Relations and Communications) 

We Need Your Help Making a Documentary Film

Bruce County - Southern Ontario's Last FrontierIt's an exciting time for Bruce County history. The county's 150th anniversary is in 2017 and the historical society will celebrate by launching a documentary covering over 150 years of history. The three -part series will get its television debut on TVOntario in 2017 and be available on DVD and Blu-ray disc. Schools in Bruce County will get free discs, a course guide connected to the Ontario curriculum and free digital access to streaming content.

We call the series "Bruce County, Southern Ontario's Last Frontier", because in southern Ontario the last area to be settled was Bruce County.

Filming starts in 2016 and continues into next year. We'll tell the county's story with interviews, location filming, re-enactments of historical events and historical photographs and film.

Our story starts with the Saugeen Ojibway, because the land which became Bruce County was part of their ancestral territory. Then we'll cover Métis and European fur traders, fishermen and settlers, lumbering, farming, nuclear power, tourism and much more.

An ambitious project like this would not be possible without professional filmmakers. For the Bruce County project the Historical Society is drawing on the filmmaking expertise of producer Yvonne Drebert and director Zach Melnick, whose documentaries have been featured on TVOntario.

Help us to develop the story line. Send in your story ideas or volunteer for one of the jobs in front of or behind the camera. We want the whole community to join in.

First Nations elders, Métis and local historians can tell the stories of their community. A high school volunteer program will let local students take part as production assistants behind the scenes—a unique opportunity to be involved in high-end documentary film production. A casting call will go out to theatre groups and drama classes for roles in front of the camera. Actors are needed to re-create famous events in Bruce County history.

We are also seeking community partners to help with funding. If your company or organization can donate to the project, or wants to receive a presentation from us, contact our head of fundraising, Ross Lamont, Bruce County Heritage Documentary Project, 519-832-5162, To get involved on an individual level, call Dorne Fitzsimmons, 519-368-7186,

This ambitious project is a great way to recognize Bruce County’s 150th anniversary. And it's our way of leaving a legacy which will educate future generations about who we were. Do volunteer and help bring the county’s history alive like never before.


Bruce County Military Project

Sergeant Merideth Reany WWI Sergeant W. Merideth Reany on his horse "Bill" during W.W.I. Sergeant Reany, born in Saugeen Township, was with the 18th Battalion, 4th Canadian Machine Gun Company, and was awarded the following medals: The Military Medal; the 1914-15 Star; The British War Medal; and the Victory Medal.

The Bruce County Historical Society, with the assistance of the Bruce County Museum, is embarking on an ambitious project to compile information on the armed forces members and veterans of Bruce County. For more information, and to get a copy of the Military Project Sheet, please go to the Bruce County Military Project page.

Bruce County Barn Project

Barn in Arran Township, Bruce County, Ontario

The Bruce County Historical Society has started a project to photograph the barns of Bruce County. For more information please go to the Bruce County Barn Project page.

Upcoming Activities

For the latest updates please visit us on Facebook

Do you have an old item in your home that you can’t identify? Want to know more about when a photograph was taken? Maybe we could help. Feel free to share your family heirlooms, pictures or mementos at one of our gatherings.

Recent Activities

2015 AGM

Southampton, Oct. 24, 2015 -- The story of a disastrous Great Lakes storm and a message in a bottle enthralled 80 members of the Bruce County Historical Society at its annual dinner meeting Oct. 24 in Southampton Town Hall.

Guest speaker Scott Cameron told how the steamer Kamloops sank in the great storm of December 1927 off Isle Royale in Lake Superior. He is an expert on Great Lakes maritime history and author of The Frances Smith: Palace Steamer of the Upper Great Lakes, 1867-1896 (Dundurn Press, 2005).

Among the crew of 22 lost in the wreck of the Kamloops were two women of Southampton: stewardess Alice Bettridge and cook Netty Grafton. Alice is supposed to have written a message calling for help which was later found in a bottle near Sault Ste. Marie, but Cameron said he was not sure it was authentic. It's now in the possession of Marvin Doran of Southampton.

On display at the meeting was "Showell's Honey", Emma Hingston's winning entry at the Grey Roots Regional Heritage Fair in April 2015. Emma, a Grade 6 student at G.C. Huston Public School in Southampton, won the Bruce County Genealogical Society Award. She dug into her family history to find out how her great-great-grandfather made a living. He was beekeeper Elmer Showell of Leith and Owen Sound. Accompanied by her great-grandmother, Marion Taylor, Emma answered questions about the family beekeeping business. The Showell apiary building still stands in Owen Sound near Harrison Park.

The annual Heritage Fair gives awards to student history projects from Bruce and Grey counties. Three other G.C. Huston students won awards: Spencer Sutter-Lammie ("Home Hardware"), Angelina Barone ("The Internment of Italian Canadians") and Darin Shular ("The Maple Leaf"). Students from two other Bruce County schools won awards: from Chesley District Community School, Devan Ferrier ("Finding Franklin") and Tatum Edwards ("From Midnight to Dawn"); and from Sullivan Community School, Maisie Cottrill ("From Canada to Egypt: Canadian Connections to Ancient Egypt") and Sophia Cottrill, ("Perilous Passage Past the Peninsula").

Past President Ross Lamont updated the members on the Society's heritage documentary about the history of Bruce County. Fundraising continues, with filming to start in 2016 and the launch set for about September 2017. After broadcast on TVO the three-part documentary will be distributed on DVD to all schools and libraries in the county. Ross said there were many opportunities for people to volunteer behind the scenes or to appear on screen telling their own stories or bringing the past to life as re-enactors.

80 Historical Society members filled the Town Hall in Southampton on Oct. 24, 2015
Heritage Fair winner and her great-grandmother Marion Taylor

Past Activities

See more of our past activities here.

Publications News

Not Wolf Nor Dog by Wilmer F Nadjiwon Not Wolf, Nor Dog by Wilmer F Nadjiwon of Cape Croker can now be ordered from our Publications page.

 We've recently added the following to our publications

Historical Plaques and Cairns in Bruce County Historical Plaques and Cairns in Bruce County
Postcard History of Bruce County Postcard History of Bruce County

Ontario Historical Society logo
Affiliated with the Ontario Historical Society

Ontario Trillium Foundation
We thank the Ontario Trillium Foundation for a grant received in 2012 to publish and distribute three history books that document the heritage of the county and its people.

Ontario logo
Supported by the Government of Ontario through the Heritage Organizations Development Grant Program

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