A historical celebration in red and white

Filed under: Headline,In Our Community |

  ColchesterSignby Fred Groves

There was a birthday party and a history lesson all rolled into one big celebration as Colchester came of age on Saturday, 225 years to be precise.Colchester2

This is a milestone few communities in Ontario can boast about.

The Town of Essex hosted the day-long “Get Your Red and White On” event to commemorate not only Canada’s 150th, but to recognize two-and-a-quarter centuries of people living along the shores of Lake Erie in Colchester.

Colchester3In celebration of the event’s title, many patriotic individuals came wearing the national colours.

“This region is very rich in history and has a promising future,” Essex Mayor Ron McDermott said during the opening ceremonies.

Historian and well-known town crier Seamus Gunn kicked-off the event by proclaiming the opening of the celebration, and it ended with the last blast of fire works over the harbour. In between, the family-friendly day had many activities, including beach volleyball, children’s games, and live entertainment.

Colchester was settled in the mid 1700s when those who wanted to escape the American Revolution found peace in Southwestern Ontario. Today, many of those who live in the area can trace their roots back to the original inhabitants.

“It’s truly remarkable that some of our residents can relate back to the early settlers,” Essex Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche said, who emceed the opening ceremonies.

One of the highlights of the day was the unveiling of the Town’s largest interpretative plaque at the Robert H. Barclay Bi-National Peace Garden, located at the corner of famous County Road 50 and Jackson Street.

“Colchester is a special place for me. My grandfather bought a cottage here after he returned from the war,” Essex MP Tracey Ramsey commented.Colchester1

Officially founded in 1792, when Lt.-Governor John Graves Simcoe divided the province into 19 counties, the McCormick’s, Quicks, Mungers, Toffelmires, Sniders, and Ilers soon called Colchester their home.

“Canada has a long history of being a peaceful country and that’s why so many people have settled here,” Ramsey said. “I’m happy to hear the history of these families continues.”

Before he became Prime Minister, Sir John A. MacDonald bought multiple parcels of land in Essex County. Most of it was unsettled acreage in the northeastern part of Colchester Township.

The area became the last stop on the underground railroad, a network of secret routes and safe houses used by African-American slaves to escape from the United States.

Famous African-American Elijah McCoy was an inventor and an engineer. It was from him that the term the ‘Real McCoy,’ stems. Josiah Henson, who inspired the title character of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, lived in Colchester for several years.

The day’s event was also part of the 8th Annual Explore the Shore, which gave travellers an opportunity to visit over 35 wineries, businesses, eateries, and attractions along County Road 50.