Donation made to Bicentennial Museum in honour of late founder

Filed under: Headline,In Our Community |

BicentennialMuseumDonationby Sylene Argent

In honour of the late Ethel Allison, who was a founding member of the Maidstone Bicentennial Museum, her brother, Tom Allison, forwarded a financial contribution to the local museum last Thursday morning.

Tom wanted the opportunity to honour and highlight the many years his sister generously donated her time and talents to the Museum.
Museum Curator Victoria Beaulieu said Ethel was active with the club right up until her passing early  this year. Even as a resident at Iler Lodge, she was still scrapbooking news articles for the Museum’s records.

“We must have 50 binders of current events, she was always scrapbooking them for reference,” Beaulieu said. Ethel’s hard work is stored safely at the Museum. It is hoped to one day have them digitized. The Museum also has a few of her old music books on hand for youth visitors to learn from.

Beaulieu explained Ethel was a popular music teacher around the county, having even taught Essex County Warden Tom Bain the “Ducky Song” when he was in his youth. Her volunteerism continued beyond being a founder of the Maidstone Bicentennial Museum to include lending her experience as a music teacher to enhance children’s programming at the Museum for many years. She also dedicated her talents to holding a position on the Museum’s Board of Directors.

Beaulieu said the Museum will have to recruit a new volunteer music teacher to bring the old songs back to the ongoing youth-related programming.

Ethel was also known for being a great storyteller who capture the attention of her young audience with her enthusiastic delivery.

“She believed very strongly in the community,” Beaulieu said of Ethel, adding she was also a founder of GessTwood Camp, a member of her church’s UCW, the Rebekah Lodge, and the Women’s Institute. “She loved children. It showed in everything she did. She had a huge heart and she always gave of herself. She was a person you couldn’t help but loving; just a really good soul.”

Tom said he had many fond memories of his sister. He recalled when Ethel was 19, she traveled outside of Essex County to be a summer camp counselor. A few years later, she was working on establishing GessTwood Camp for youth here.

In addition, Beaulieu said, Ethel made the best Rice Krispy squares.

The Allison family has many connections to the building that now houses the Maidstone Bicentennial Museum. Not only was Ethel a founding member of the Museum, the facility used to be the municipal building for Maidstone. At that time, the back room was used for the Maidstone Phone Company, where Tom worked.

Ethel and Tom’s father also worked at the facility when it was the Maidstone Municipal Building as a tax collector.

Beaulieu was grateful for the donation, and noted it would go to good use, likely in helping to fund some needed upgrades at the Museum. The donation was an unexpected surprise.

Last year, Beaulieu said, the Maidstone Bicentennial Museum lost four important members. Their passing has left a gap. Potential volunteers with a passion for history and teaching youth are urged to contact Beaulieu to learn about getting involved.