April 25, 2018
The Glengarry News, page 8
By Inez Franklin
The Glengarry Fencibles Trust is the community group which purchased The Bishop’s House in St. Raphael’s and is undertaking its restoration and renovation. The group’s goal is to open the site to the public as an educational and interpretive centre, with space for community use and events. The Fencibles’ efforts will preserve an integral component of an important National Heritage Site.
Saturday, April 14, the GFT hosted a Gala Dinner fundraiser at the Char-Lan Recreation Centre.
The hall was beautifully decorated by Janice Munro and Tish Humphries. Handsome weathered wood and black-painted pieces were accented with lavish bouquets of tulips and colourful fabric panels in bursts of pink and spring green. Flickering candles created a welcoming ambience.
Soft violin and piano music by David MacPhee and his students enhanced the cocktail hour. Jim Mullin, dressed in the military uniform of the Glengarry Fencibles, stood sentry at the door. Loyal supporters of The Bishop’s House project ignored Mother Nature’s late-season petulance, braving snow-showers and wind gusts to arrive in high good humour for a delicious dinner and an evening of fun.
As dinner commenced, GFT President Brenda Baxter welcomed everyone, introduced several guests, and offered a brief update on the restoration project.
During dessert, Allan Macdonell introduced guest speaker Dr. Renée Lafferty-Sulhany of Brock University. Her current research topic is The Social, Medical and Religious History of the War of 1812.
Dr. Renée gave a lively and informative talk about what life might be like for men such as those who served in the Big Bishop’s regiment, the Glengarry Fencibles, during the War of 1812.
She described the typical soldier’s social milieu and standing, his ethics and beliefs, and his attitude toward the constant imminence of death. She touched on the way such men were governed by their military and political superiors. For example, soldiers were issued quite a large quantity of alcohol each day. The presence of a chaplain helped to quell soldier’s habitually immoral behaviour. Strong clerical leadership also bolstered the me’s endurance in a long campaign, and helped them to make sense of the chaos of war. In General Brock’s correspondence with his military peers in Britain, it was clear he thought it worth breaking the law against having a Catholic as a military chaplain. Fr. Alexander Macdonell was too good a candidate to pass up for this important position.
Dr. Lafferty-Sulhany’s passion for her topic made her presentation all the more interesting. We hope her enthusiasm for the restoration of the Bishop’s House ensures a return visit.
After dinner, auctioneer Flora (Grant) Dumouchel took the floor. In her infectiously lively manner, she competently dispatched a diverse collection of donated items, artwork and vacation packages to the highest bidders, entertaining everyone in the process.
Many, many thanks are extended to the volunteers, organizers, sponsors and patrons of the Gala Dinner. There are too many to name in this space. It is through such supportive efforts that the work of restoring The Bishop’s House will be completed. We of the Glengarry Fencibles Trust look forward, with you, to the day when the House is once more open to the community, and its multifaceted history is preserved for generations to come.
The Glengarry Fencibles Trust hosted its Annual General Meeting last Wednesday, April 18 at the St. Raphael’s Parish Centre. The usual AGM tasks were accomplished: officers and directors were introduced and a financial review was presented.
Updates on the activities and undertakings from 2017 were reviewed and goals for 2018 were outlined.
The efforts of a roster of volunteers too many to name were recognized.
Two new directors, Ranald MacDonald and Simon McDonald, were named to the GFT Board. Welcome, gentlemen!
Information about the restoration project is always available at www.bishopshouse.ca
One GFT event of note is the upcoming 2018 edition of the Drystone-Walling Workshop slated for June 2-3. Over that weekend, another portion of the historic 1826 retaining wall in the front garden of The Bishop’s House will be restored under the guidance of Dry Stone Walling Association of Canada teacher Scott Young. The section of wall repaired in 2017 is visible from the road. Check it out! Students from last year’s workshop are cordially invited to return, and new candidates are welcome. Please find more information and / or register on the website at drystonecanada.com or email email@example.com
© The Glengarry News, Wednesday, April 25, 2018. Page 8
All rights reserved.
Photos added by Glengarry Fencibles Trust