Preserve plaques

Dear Editor:

RE: Ditch plaques, Jan. 24.

I certainly hope Rachel Bernstein was joking regarding ditching the historical plaques on houses in Fergus. If not, she owes the late John Carter, Edith Mattaini and Lena Grantham an apology for the months of research they did (1981 to 1983) to provide historical information for each plaque, as requested by the owner of the property/structure. 

They used resources from the Wellington Country Museum’s archives, including the abstract index to deeds and census records, to ascertain who owned the property, the year the heritage structure was built and what the occupation of the owner was.

The information was then given to the 1980s property owner who was responsible for ordering and paying for the plaque. Not one owner asked that another name be added. They accepted the information as being correct to the time period the settlers lived in. 

The town and the Wellington County Historical Society had nothing to do with the project, which was instigated by the Fergus 150th anniversary celebration committee. The plaques were an integral part of the year’s celebration that gave visitors and townspeople the opportunity to learn more about the history of the heritage structures.  If they wished further information on the families who lived in them, there were books available to read such as A.E. Byerly’s Fergus and Northeast Nichol.

I suggest that Ms. Bernstein spend some time walking all the streets in the historic area of Fergus. She would find a number of plaques with women’s names on them. I would also suggest that she spend time walking the heritage streets of Elora, Oakville and at least 20 other towns and cities in southern Ontario.

When she’s finished those walks she should stroll through the many hundreds of villages, towns and cities in the other provinces and states in the U.S. before suggesting that Fergus’ plaques be removed. The plaques in all communities open doors to visitors and townspeople who might wish to do further research on historical information regarding families and the heritage structures. I dare her to suggest to these communities that the plaques be ditched!

By the way, Ms. Bernstein should make sure that her name appears on the property deed and property assessment papers that she and her husband/other half own if they purchased a new residence. If it isn’t, any plaque which future owners might want to have on the structure would only have the name of her husband/other half on it.

And please folks, if your home has an historical plaque on it, don’t remove it.  If it is one of the original plaques you might want to consider having a new one made.  Many visitors and descendents of the original settlers still come to the area to see these plaques and to enjoy the heritage of our unique Centre Wellington communities.

Pat Mestern,