If you live or work in this community, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the shops, restaurants and services that Oakville has to offer – but what about it’s history? Did you know that town founder, William Chisholm, paid 21 shillings ($4,116) for 960 acres of land at an auction in 1827? The Oakville Historical Society works to preserve interesting tidbits such as this, as well as the many historical buildings scattered throughout the town.
Local resident Mary Davidson initially joined the society because of the friendliness of the people she met during the Speaker’s Nights. “I thought it would be a nice, quiet kind of place to spend some time with a little bit of interest on the side: learning more about the town we have come to consider home,” says Davidson. Her main roles are publicity, organizing guest speakers, and manning the Thomas House.
The Society is operated and managed strictly by volunteers, a highly dedicated group of individuals without whom the Society couldn’t exist. The archival collection and libraries are extensive, informative and interesting. There are many original documents, letters, pictures, maps, albums and more to view. The Society’s main library contains over 1,500 items from costumes and relics to cookbooks and genealogy.
In the main reference library, the Society maintains a noteworthy collection of over 6,000 photos depicting the buildings and pioneer lifestyle of the community as it was all the way back to the mid-nineteenth century. The archives are stored in a climate-controlled area approved by the Archives Association of Ontario, ensuring that the integrity of the collection is not compromised.
The best way to familiarize yourself with Oakville’s history – and the Society – is to to attend a Speaker’s Night, or one of their events, like Davidson did. “I’ve learned that Oakville has many beautiful places that have been preserved through the actions of people concerned with history, and Oakville has many kind and talented people who are happy to share their time and talents to help keep this Town “Livable” as our slogan says,” says Davidson. “It’s very gratifying to see how many young people are interested in learning about our town – we see them in the summertime at the Thomas House down at Lakeside Park – over 5,000 visitors in 2013 – a record year for us!” Davidson encourages locals to visit the Thomas House. “Many who visit the Thomas House are surprised that there is this lovely Park so near to the downtown!”
Several historical buildings in Oakville are believed to be haunted, including the Erchless Estate. Local author, Joyce Burnell, has written a book titled “Ghosts of Oakville”, chronicling the tales of local ghosts. Erchless Estate in particular has had many sightings of different ghosts, said to be members of the Chisholm family. If you’re interested in learning more, make the Oakville Historical Society your first stop!
Share with the Society
Have something of note that might be of interest to the Historical Society? Let them know. They’d be happy to take a look.
Article written by Becky Dumais