Wingham & Area Historical Society seeking memories for first major project

WINGHAM – The newly-formed Wingham & Area Historical Society held a meeting on March 8 at the Alice Munro Library, where it discussed plans moving forward, had a brainstorming session, and watched a portion of a black and white, silent DVD titled ‘Stars of the Town’ [of Wingham in 1949].

About 25 Wingham residents attended the meeting and are looking forward to the upcoming work; many of them are from the older generation and hope to accomplish their goal of preserving and sharing the history of the small township, which will include their memories of days gone by.

One of the more urgent tasks is gathering memories, and they need your help to do that.

Brent Bowyer, one of the founding members of the new Society, said in an email, “At our meeting at the library a few days ago, one of the things mentioned as a really urgent and pressing need was for each one of us to record our memories of Wingham and area in some form. That could be hand-written, typed, an audio or video recording.”

Addressing questions that might arise from this ask, Bowyer had several answers to provide those who may doubt their input would be valued.

Bowyer wrote, “Some typical reasons I’ve heard in the past for not wanting to do this are:

Q: I’m not important. Only rich or famous people do stuff like that.

A: In my 45 years of interviewing relatives for writing family histories, everyone has a very interesting and fascinating story to tell. The lives and experiences of ordinary people are definitely worthwhile to preserve!

Q: I can’t remember much.

A: I’ve found that getting started can be hard, but once the memories start flowing, helped by some old photos or prompts, it can be hard to stop. Most of our long-term memories are a lot better than the short-term ones, anyway.

Q: I might offend someone.

A: Well, discretion is always a good thing, of course, and it does help to have a second read a few days after recording your memories, and I can offer some editorial advice.

Q: No one would be interested.

A: I can assure you that at least some of your children and grandchildren will be interested when they are older, if not right away. Wouldn’t you give an arm or a leg yourself to find a diary or writeup by a long-dead relative? A friend in Clinton recently told me of finding his English grandmother’s diary of a bike trip in Iceland in the 1930s, also a diary of his great-great grandfather kept from 1855-1880. Absolutely fascinating! Let’s leave a legacy of memories that will be cherished not only by our descendants but by the broader community!

Q: I don’t know what to write about.

A: Well, there›s no prescription for that. Tell about what kept you busy, about what you enjoyed or didn’t enjoy about the people who have been important to you, about the events of your life that your grandchildren and the following generations wouldn›t understand otherwise.

Q: I was never very good at writing.

A: Don’t worry about that! Spelling and punctuation, etc., can all be fixed so that it›s readable. Getting the memories down is the main thing.

Q: I don’t have any time.

A: But I imagine those of us who are retired at least have more time than in the past when we were working to earn a living. Two or three hours would make a big dent in recording your memories!

The Society hopes to have at least 10 submissions by June 2023 and 20 by the end of the year.

They have a list of suggestions available to help get the memory juices rolling, available by reaching out to Bowyer or any other members.

The group has started a Facebook page titled ‘Wingham & Area Historical Society.’ They invite you to join that page to receive regular updates, have a place to submit photos, and join the Society as they have fun with their research.

Upcoming events include showing the 72-minute black and white, silent DVD: ‘Stars of the Town’ [of Wingham in 1949] on March 25 at 2:30 p.m., at the Alice Munro Library.

Bowyer said, “We’ll stop it every time someone sees someone they know and record who it is. It would be great to have lots of our seniors there who might have lived in Wingham around that time.”

The next monthly meeting will be at 2:30 p.m. on April 12 at the Alice Munro Library.

Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times