June 3, 2015 · 0 Comments
By Caitlin Skerratt
The residents of Kettleby welcomed some new additions to the village park this past weekend, thanks to the King Township Historical Society. The park, which lies at the base of the village, is now the home of three symbolic historyboards.
Each historyboard tells the story of a specific part of the village’s rich heritage: the village itself, the mills, and the Webb family who were settlers nearby in the King Township area in the early 1800s.
Elaine Robertson, president of the KTHS, hopes that the historyboards will give the residents of Kettleby and surrounding areas a sense of belonging through learning about the history of where they live.
“I think an awareness of history in an area helps people put down roots,” she said. “It helps them to realize that they’re part of an evolutionary process.”
With all of the rapid and constant development that’s happening across King Township, new families can find it hard to feel a sense of belonging in an unfamiliar place. Robertson sees history as a way to connect with an area, which is where the historyboards come into play.
“In this period of time people move so much and I think having some stability of where you are, a sense of place, is really important. The development of the village and the development of a town or a township is ongoing, it doesn’t just stop in one period of time. So I think being able to look at the (historyboards) will give people a sense of connectedness.”
Robertson points out that the historyboards would have remained just an idea if it weren’t for a generous donation made to the KTHS by member John Wilson.
Three years ago Wilson, Robertson, and Virginia Atkins, past-president of the KTHS, started the historyboard project not only to memorialize Wilson’s family on his mother’s side, the Webbs, but also to pay tribute to all early settlers in the King Township area.
Wilson hopes that the historyboards will highlight the importance of the Kettleby area in its earlier days and today.
“I hope that (the historyboards) will bring attention to my mother’s family as well. There used to be a mill in Kettleby where people could get their animals’ food ground up and I remember going there when I was a kid when the mill was still operating. I remember quite a bit about Kettleby,” Wilson reminisces.
The KTHS and Wilson worked in partnership with various groups, organizations and people across King Township to make the idea of the historyboards come to life. Supporters included Kathleen Fry at the King Museum, the Kettleby Village Association, the Township of King, the local library and archives, and Kathy Cartan’s digital graphic design company called Motive Media.
“It takes a whole group (of people), with everybody working together,” said Robertson.
While it started out as a memorial to Wilson’s family and early settlers, the historyboard project grew into something even bigger – a way for people in the community to become familiar with the stories behind where they’re living.
Feeling connected to a community is essential, especially if you’re new and trying to find a place that feels like home. Learning about an area’s heritage can be the perfect way to grasp that sense of belonging. As Robertson puts it, the KTHS doesn’t just deal with “dusty old facts from long ago.”
With the creation of the Kettleby historyboards Robertson, Wilson and all others who made it possible have brought to light the community’s heritage and the rich history that started it all.