Bruce County Historical Society logo

Bruce County Historical Society

Bruce County, Ontario, Canada

Incorporated 1901 - 1915       Re-incorporated 1957

Past 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

2014 AGM

The 2014 Annual General Meeting was held on October 24, 2014 at the Port Elgin Legion Branch 340. Guest Speaker was author Allan Bartley, whose talk was about World War I and the 160th Bruce Battalion.

BCHS 2014 AGM Display area - Brucedale Press, BCHS Books, Military project, Township of Bruce.
 BCHS 2014 AGM

There were about 80 attendees.
BCHS 2014 AGM Two SDHS students presented on their trip to Normandy for the 70th Anniversary of D-Day.
BCHS 2014 AGM Saugeen Shores Mayor Mike Smith with Meeting Chair President Ross Lamont.
BCHS 2014 AGM Anne Goeden thanks guest speaker Allan Bartley.
BCHS 2014 AGM Incoming President Irene Howe.


Krug Estate Donation

On Thursday April 10th, 2014, the Bruce County Historical Society made the official donation of the Bruce A. Krug Estate Material to the Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre. Emceed by Cathy McGirr, Acting Director-Curator of the Museum, speakers included John Close, Bruce County Warden, Paul Eagleson, Mayor Arran-Elderslie and Museum Committee Chair, and our Historical Society President, Ross Lamont. The museum’s archivists (Anne-Marie Collins, Sue Schlorff, Deb Sturdevant) had set up a sample of the items purchased. These included postcards, period photos, voters' lists, etc..

Mr. Krug was an avid collector of historical items and a great supporter of our Museum (as well as many other community organizations). For example the Krug brothers supported the expansion of the Museum in 1976 when the the Krug wing was opened. Having these items housed and being cared for by the museum for future generations will be a fitting legacy to the Krug brothers' memory.

Krug Estate Donation  Looking over a selection of items — at Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre.
Krug Estate Donation 

Thousands of Bruce County Postcards are part of the Krug items — at Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre.
Krug Estate Donation  Voters' lists, etc. — at Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre.
Krug Estate Donation  Photo albums, death cards, etc. — at Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre.
Krug Estate Donation  The Krug brothers also supported the Bruce Trail — at Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre.
Krug Estate Donation  Cathy McGirr was emcee, acting Director-Curator of the Museum — at Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre.
Krug Estate Museum John Close, Bruce County Warden — at Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre.
Krug Estate Donation  Paul Eagleson, Museum Committee Chair — at Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre.
Krug Estate Donation   Ross Lamont, President, Bruce County Historical Society — at Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre.

Local Authors Night 2013

On Monday July 8th, 2013 about 40 members and friends of the Bruce County Genealogical Society and the Bruce County Historical Society enjoyed their annual Author’s Night. Chaired by BCGS President Doug Lennox, it was thoroughly enjoyed by all. Ojibway Elder Wilmer F. Nadjiwon spoke about his memoir Not Wolf, Nor Dog, artist Paul Duff talked about his autobiography My Life, My Art, and Bob Day discussed his book Shores of Heaven, the Birth of Bruce Peninsula National Parks. All 3 authors call Bruce County home and we were very privileged to have them at our event.

Local Authors Night 2013


2013 Annual Bus Tour - Wine, Beer ... Jail

The Bruce County Historical Society's annual bus tour was held on May 22, 2013. We toured the Neustadt Springs Brewery, the Carrick Wines and Cider and the Walkerton Jail, and learned about the history of prohibition, bootlegging and crime & punishment in Bruce County.

2013 BCHS bus tour Bus tour - Neustadt Springs Brewery
2013 BCHS bus tour Bus tour - Neustadt Springs Brewery
2013 BCHS bus tour Bus tour - Carrick Wines and Cider
2013 BCHS bus tour Bus tour - Walkerton Jail
2013 BCHS bus tour Bus tour - Walkerton Jail
2013 BCHS bus tour Bus tour - Walkerton Jail
2013 BCHS bus tour Bus tour - Walkerton Jail
2013 BCHS bus tour Bus tour - Walkerton Jail
2013 BCHS bus tour Bus tour - Walkerton Jail
2013 BCHS bus tour Bus tour - lunch
2013 BCHS bus tour Bus tour - lunch
2013 BCHS bus tour Bus tour - lunch

Book Launch for Historical Plaques and Cairns in Bruce County (Revised) 2013

The book launch of Historical Plaques and Cairns in Bruce County (Revised) was held Saturday April 27th, 2013 at the Point Clark Community Centre.

Book Launch Kathleen Scott (Cover Design), Ross Lamont    (President BCHS and Event Chair), Bill Stewart (Editor), Lisa Thompson (MPP Huron-Bruce), Mitch Towlan (Mayor, Huron-Kinloss).
Book Launch Bill Stewart presents details about the book.
Book Launch Plaque on site at Point Clark Community Centre in memory of local teenager Joel Miller.

Die Ontario Glocke Microfilm Donation Received 2012

In 2012 the family of Mr. Wolf Haessler, Southampton, made a generous donation to the Bruce County Historical Society in honour of Mr. Haessler's 70th birthday. The donation funded the purchase of eight microfilm reels of Die Ontario Glocke, 1892 - 1910, which have been donated to the Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre's Research Room & Archives to make them available to the public. These are in addition to the eight reels previously donated by the Bruce County Historical Society, covering the years 1883 - 1891. Die Ontario Glocke was published in the German language in Walkerton.

Book Launch for Postcard History of Bruce County 2012

The Bruce County Historical Society launched its most recent publication, Postcard History of Bruce County, at the Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre on Thursday evening, November 22, 2012. President Ross Lamont gave a brief history of the Bruce County Historical Society. Two current projects, one concerning barns and the other the military, were explained by Audrey Underwood and Dorne Fitzsimmons. MPP Lisa Thompson brought greetings from the province and expressed the importance and value of work being done by the society. Financial support from the Trillium Foundation, an agency of the Government of Ontario, for this book and two others published by the society in 2012, was acknowledged. Secretary Marvin Doran presented a copy of each of four books published in 2012 to Deb Sturdevant, representing the reading room of the Museum, for use in the Archives of the County. William Stewart, editor of Postcard History of Bruce County, made a visual presentation about the book, which was printed in Bruce County at the Tobermory Press. The 300 page, hard covered book features numerous historical pictures of all parts of the county arranged according to present day municipalities in which they are located. Arrangement of the postcard pictures follows a north to south and east to west pattern. This book is a lasting pictorial reminder of many locations, buildings, streetscapes and events that are no longer with us. For ordering information please go to our Publications page.

Postcard History of Bruce County book launch
Ross Lamont, President of the Bruce County Historical Society, Lisa Thompson, MPP Huron-Bruce, and William Stewart, editor and designer of new BCHS publication Postcard History of Bruce County.
Postcard History of Bruce County book
For ordering information please go to our Publications page.

2012 Annual General Meeting

Around 120 members and guests enjoyed our Annual General Meeting on November 3rd, 2012 at the Chesley Community Centre. Ten exhibitors ranging from War of 1812 re-enactors to Brucedale Press were very well received. Our guest speaker, James Laxer, an award winning author and political science professor at York University gave a very interesting talk on the War of 1812 stressing the roles of Tecumseh and Brock. Our publications chair, Bill Stewart, had the first copies of the updated Postcard Book for sale, as will as a selection of the regular titles. The new executive was installed. Ross Lamont will be our president for the next 2 years.

BCHS AGM 2012 President Audrey Underwood hands over gavel of office to Ross Lamont, incoming President of the Bruce County Historical Society.
Our guest speaker, James Laxer, spoke about Tecumseh and Brock's role in the War of 1812, including events that led up to the War.
BCHS AGM 2012 Thanking our guest speaker. Note the War of 1812 themed decorations for our meeting.
BCHS AGM 2012  Exhibitor area. We had 10 exhibitors set up in the hall.
BCHS AGM 2012  Student exhibitor explaining his CFL research to attendees.
BCHS AGM 2012  Grade 8 student Eric displays his project on the history of the Canadian Football League.
BCHS AGM 2012 War of 1812 re-enactors displayed their armaments and photos from re-enactments in which they have participated. 
BCHS AGM 2012 Display area: furs from War of 1812 re-enactors. 

Dedication of Saugeen Métis Marine Monument 2012

Saugeen Métis Marine Monument dedication

The Bruce County Historical Society's President Audrey Underwood participated in the October 24, 2012 dedication ceremony for the Saugeen Métis Marine Monument. The monument was erected by the Historic Saugeen Métis in Pioneer Park, Southampton at the mouth of the Saugeen River, in memory of Métis Great Lakes mariners.

History of Glammis / Glamis Talk 2011

Glammis, Bruce County - main street, 1913

At a meeting of the Bruce County Historical Society held on Wednesday September 14th, 2011 in Southampton at the Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre, the guest presenters were John Kaminski and Bob Wrightson, telling the 50-some attendees about their work with the Glamis Historical Researchers. The aim of this 8 member group is to collect as much information and data, and as many pictures and contacts as they can about Glammis from its founding days to present time. Their emphasis is on the properties, businesses, churches, schools and influential persons that made Glamis what it once was. And what a history that little village had! The hour-long presentation was only able to touch on some of the highlights. Since their inception in 2007, the group has collected almost a thousand pictures - congratulations on a job well done! But, according to the presenters, there are still lots of missing pieces and pictures, so if you could help them out in any way, please contact John by email ( or Joan Ferris by phone (519-353-5365). Check out their website to see what they have already done. And yes, there is still some controversy about the spelling of the hamlet’s name – one m or two?

Hampton Court Site of Bruce County Historical Society House Tour 2011

Hampton Villa, Southampton, Bruce County, Ontario    Bruce County County Council at Hampton Court, Southampton

Southampton, June, 2011 - On June 8th a group of keen historians from the Bruce County Historical Society gathered, despite unsettled weather, to learn more about one of our heritage buildings within Bruce County. Mary Stokes, Executive Director and Director of Care and her dedicated staff warmly welcomed us to Hampton Court, Retirement Living by Revera. Derek Wills, a Bowman family historian, was able to provide extensive family background which richly added to the tour of the residence. We were also pleased to welcome Mr. & Mrs. Lymburner, a nephew of a previous owner.

In 1902 Charles Martin Bowman built Hampton Villa, a magnificent three-story red brick house with a red conical roof made of brass, located at 49 Albert St. in Southampton.

Bowman's home included 12 bedrooms, five fireplaces (only one still in use), leaded glass lights, and twelve inch baseboards of maple and walnut, all hardwoods from a Bruce County forest which he owned. The curved bricks for the corners came from Scotland and stone corbelling (a projection of stone or wood from the face of a wall) lined the windows, each with a different sculpted design. Almost every window was adorned with stained glass design, still proudly viewed. The staircases were built with low rises, each with heavy-crafted banisters. The area below the conical roof was made into a beautiful veranda, now enclosed.

Over the years the house has been altered to suit the changing roles, but upon entering the building today one can see the historic architecture has been preserved.

This charming residence exudes warmth and comfort, where residents enjoy the beauty and tranquility. Hampton Court carries the same grandeur today as it did decades ago.

In the years to come the Historical Society will enjoy many more tours of our captivating heritage homes within the County.

Bruce County Crowd Visits Donnelly Museum 2011

House moved from Conc. 4,  Bruce Township, Bruce County to Lucan - Replica Donnelly Home
Tour Guide Harry pointing to damage done to the Donnelly Tombstone Robert Salts giving his version of the events of Feb. 4 1880

Huron County, May, 2011 - Cool, damp and windy weather did not dampen the spirits of Bruce County Historical Society members and friends who journeyed to the Lucan area to learn the tragic story of the Donnelly family during mid to late 1800s.

A twenty minute video introduced us to a complete account when we arrived at the Donnelly Museum, opened about two years ago on the main street in Lucan. We then examined much memorabilia of the family and area before exploring a replica of the original Donnelley log house. The log home, was originally from Bruce Township, was moved to the Lucan site. Beside the house was a shed that housed many small farm items including an egg grader and candler. These historic articles brought back many forgotten memories to the travelers.

After a sumptuous luncheon, we boarded the bus again accompanied by Donnelly historian, Harry, for a tour of the Roman Line. We stopped at the original Donnelly farm to hear a full account of the murders of five of the Donnelly family and the torching of their home. Mr. Robert Salts, who lives in the farm home built by a Donnelly son, enacted his version of the family murders right on the spot between the two huge Chestnut trees that had been planted by the Donnellys in memory of those murdered. Mr. Salts’ unequivocal soliloquy assured us of exactly how things happened besides telling of the ghosts that still inhabit his home!

Our next stop was at the Huron Historic Gaol in Goderich, built between 1839 and 1842, a tour we found quite fascinating. This included the attached Governor’s House, built 1901, restored to its former elegance. All this history has a connection to Bruce County, as at the time of construction Bruce was united with Huron and Perth counties. Here also, James Donnelly Sr. served time for murder.

Following a delicious dinner at the Candlelight Restaurant, we headed back to Bruce County, content with pleasant memories of good fellowship and new knowledge of the Donnelly saga.