The United Empire Loyalists of Canada - Bicentennial Branch (Southwestern Ontario)
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Homestead is Best in Ontario!

Essex - The John R. Park Homestead Conservation Area has won the Russell K. Cooper Award from the Ontario Historical Society. The award is given to “a living history museum showing excellence in programming, ingenious problem solving or site development”.  The Homestead is Ontario’s only living historical farm museum west of London.  Operated by the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA), the museum on the lake offers a four season program of family special events and hands-on, curriculum based school activities.  Since it opened in 1978, more than 500,000 visitors have learned lessons in conservation for the future by exploring the past. 

A dynamic group of 75 volunteers contribute to a variety of areas at the Homestead including the tending the heritage garden and orchard, blacksmithing, and woodworking.  The Homestead has also forged links with many community organizations, including the Leamington District Weavers Guild, the group that initiated the award nomination.

“This is a tremendous honour for the Homestead and tribute to our volunteers and staff, both past and present,” said ERCA Chair, Anthony Leardi.  “Conserving and interpreting our region’s heritage is important to the future, and the Homestead’s commitment to excellence in this regard has been formally recognized with this prestigious award.”

The late Russ Cooper for whom the award is named guided the development of Black Creek Pioneer Village, a project of the Toronto Region Conservation Authority.  Mr. Cooper also worked with the Credit Valley Conservation Authority, and advised on barn restoration at the Homestead. 

The Homestead is in esteemed company, as previous winners of the Cooper award include Dundurn Castle National Historic Site in Hamilton and Lang Pioneer Village in Peterborough.   The presentation will be made at the Ontario Historical Society’s Annual General Meeting in Toronto on June 12, 2010.

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