The United Empire Loyalists of Canada - Bicentennial Branch (Southwestern Ontario)
UELAC Central West Regional Annual Regional Meeting
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Saturday, April 19, 2008

by Bonnie L. Schepers U.E.

On Saturday, April 19 I had the pleasure of watching the sun rise as I headed east on the 401 to London for the Central West Regional meeting. I am sure I can count on one hand the number of times I have watched a sunrise. I am much more familiar with sunsets. I cannot take credit for being the early riser on that day though because our Dominion President Peter Johnson told me he woke at 4 a.m. in order to be present at the Regional Meeting.

This year we had forty-five representatives of the seven branches of the UELAC Central West Region in attendance at the Westmount Branch of the London Public Library. Five branch Presidents were able to attend with two sending regrets. We were very fortunate to have in attendance our Dominion President Peter Johnson UE, Dominion Past President Doug Grant UE and Senior Vice President Fred Hayward UE.

As Regional Vice President it was my task to plan and chair the meeting. The meeting began shortly after 9:30 a.m. Peter Johnson brought greetings from the Association. This is the end of his two year term and he made mention of the number of successful projects carried out by branches in our region during his tenure. Two of those branch projects were featured in presentations made by Colonel Butler Branch (Niagara) and Toronto Branch.

Colonel Butler Branch members have been placing Loyalist Burial Site signs at historic cemeteries in their area. Information on this project can be seen in the Spring 2008 Loyalist Gazette under Branch News Highlights as well as at their Branch website. The Toronto Branch project is identifying and creating a directory of Loyalist families of the Toronto Home District with emphasis on York.

Fred Hayward as Chair of the Grants Committee indicated that there is seed money available as Major and Minor Grants to assist branches with special projects. One of our main goals as an Association is to increase public awareness and undertaking a branch project is a great way to increase member involvement and bring attention to the Loyalist history in our area.

Fred also spoke of a possible 'tree planting project' in 2009 as a celebration of Ontario's 225th Anniversary of Loyalist Settlement. This is something that would require the support of the branches and he would like confirmation of interest in that idea. Next year is also the 25th Anniversary of the Bicentennial Branch so this may be a good time to think of a special celebration to commemorate that event. A project has been suggested that Bicentennial Branch install a Provincial historical plaque at Lakeside Park in Kingsville. This area is part of the original land grants made to Essex County Loyalists recorded in the minutes of a meeting of the Land board for the District of Hesse, October 22, 1790. A small tract of land on the east side of Mill Creek (Lot 1) was granted the 20th of December 1793 to Andrew Ulcoch for the purpose of building a mill for the benefit of the New Settlement. With your support this could become a part of our 25 year celebration.

Following lunch our guest speaker was Tim Compeau, our Loyalist Scholarship recipient for 2007-2008. Tim is currently working on his PhD at University of Western Ontario where his main area of study is the Loyalist Diaspora. Tim spoke on Dueling and the code of Honour which proved very interesting.

Doug Grant led an interactive presentation on recruiting and maintaining members and the afternoon ended with the election of Bonnie Schepers UE returning as Central West Regional Vice President and Sue Hines UE of Grand River Branch newly elected as Central West Regional Councillor. RVP and Councillors are elected for a term of one year but normally hold office for two terms.

Appreciation was extended to London and Western Ontario Branch for hosting again this year and the program ended with the singing of our National Anthem.

Next year's Annual Regional Meeting is set for Saturday, April 18, 2009 at the Westmount Branch of the London Public Library.

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