The United Empire Loyalists of Canada - Bicentennial Branch (Southwestern Ontario)
 
Bicentennial Branch UELAC AGM
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Church of the Epiphany, Kingsville

Bicentennial Branch UELAC AGM took place on Saturday, May 3, 2008 in Kingsville, Ontario at the Church of the Epiphany with forty-four members in attendance.We were very pleased to see this number in attendance.

As pointed out at the meeting we are desperately in need of members willing to assume branch executive positions.Many on the executive have served a number of years in various capacities. Our current Branch President has indicated her wish to retire from the role but is remaining in office to avert the risk of leaving the branch with no leadership.

If we wish to continue as a productive branch of the UELAC, it is critical that members show their support by taking on leadership roles. New ideas, new contacts and a fresh approach would be welcomed as we continue to work together to promote Loyalist history in Essex County and the surrounding area. Please consider what you may be able to offer in the way of assistance.

Ken Turner UE, (Bicentennial Branch) founder of the Essex County Historical Cemeteries Preservation Society, is a man with a mission. Besides being a much sought after lecturer and speaker about preserving Ontario's past, Ken is currently completing a Master's Degree in History and serving as President of the Ontario Historical Society.

An avid researcher, genealogist, author and heritage issue lobbyist, Ken has contributed greatly to the recognition and preservation of history in the Essex County area. His Cemeteries Preservation Society won the Essex Region Conservation Authority Award for the preservation of local history in 2004. He has been interviewed on issues of historical importance numerous times on television, radio and in the local newspapers.

Ken is dedicated to restoring and preserving historic cemeteries using physical labour and many hours of personal time to accomplish his goals. By maintaining and making these sites known he is directly honouring the memory of early pioneer families. Behind Ken's practical approach is the belief that, "everyone whether great or small has the right to rest in peace according to the beliefs of their faith and culture." While the political will may not exist to do anything about some known cemetery sites that are being lost to time and urban development, Ken continues to raise his voice to bring attention to the struggle for preservation.

Ken views cemeteries as outdoor libraries and museums as well as art galleries. "Early gravestones are original historic documents revealing information such as mortality rates, ethnic makeup and longevity of settlement. Sometimes graves are the only thing left of an early settlement." A major concern with increasing urban development is preserving historic cemetery sites in their original locations.

Dramatic evidence of what can happen when 'guardians of history' turn away is the grave of Loyalist Simon Girty, buried outside Amherstburg with military honours in 1818, and now lost under a two car garage. The depth of Ken's concern is echoed in a quote from Genesis - Chapter 4, Verse 10: "What have you done! Listen: Your brother's blood cries out to me from the soil."

Ken has recently located the Fox family burial ground which is in need of restoration. In support of his continuing work in preserving Loyalist family burial sites in our area, Margie Luffman, on behalf of Bicentennial Branch, presented Ken with a donation in the amount of $1000.00.

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