Bruce County warden says it’s ‘time to move forward’ regarding Krug Trust

BRUCE COUNTY – Bruce County Warden Chris Peabody didn’t mince words when he spoke about the Jan. 13, 2023 court order regarding the Krug Estate Trust.

“There’s no sugar-coating this,” said Peabody. “The judge said the county behaved badly all through this.”

The warden stressed that “it’s over… it’s time to move forward.”

The court order, released Feb. 1, provided clarification on Justice G. D. Lemon’s earlier ruling on the property at 254 High St., Southampton – the former church manse. The county had purchased the property with funds from the Krug Estate with the intention of demolishing the historic building and building an archives.

The Southampton Cultural Heritage Conservancy group took the matter to court, which decided in favour of the group. Demolition plans were stopped; the county had already done some preparatory work by removing the heading system.

The court found the county in breach of the terms of the trust, which was quite specific on what funds could be used for.

The recent order reiterated the October decision that removed Bruce County as trustee of the Krug Trust and appointed BMO as trustee.

Among the clauses in the order was one specifying that “BMO Trust shall list and sell the High Street property on the open market to an arm’s-length third party purchaser unrelated to the county (whether directly or indirectly).”

The order stated on no uncertain terms that the county is prohibited from trying to acquire an interest in the High Street property.

Proceeds from the sale will be paid to the Krug Trust.

Peabody said that there is no way an archives will be constructed where the county had wanted it. The court decision has closed that particular door.

It leaves the question on where the archives will be located. Peabody said he foresees increased digitization of archives material. However, he speculated that should the archives acquire some larger items, the former Walkerton jail “might be repurposed” to house the collection.

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times