As appeared in the Lanark Era (Sep 2008)
Lanark teacher was thwarted in her attempt to expose the injustices of Canada’s residential school system
“Remembered Heroes” by Donna Sinclair is reprinted with permission from the United Church Observer, July/August 2000. It was first published in the Lanark Era, Sept. 5, 2000, and is reprinted again this year, as the federal government is now offering compensation to people who were forced to attend these schools.
By Donna Sinclair
Lucy Affleck was 44 years old when she took up a teaching position at Round Lake Indian Residential School near Stockholm, Sask. It was 1929. That was the year she became a hero of the United Church, although few people knew it at the time.
She was – as a distant relative, United Church minister Rev. George Affleck described her years later – “a remarkable person, an intellectual, totally honest in her thinking.”
That honesty led her to write a passionate, five-page confidential letter to the Superintendent of Home Missions, Dr. Alfred Barner, in Toronto after she had been at Round Lake only a few months.
Ms. Affleck was appalled at the living conditions of the children: small children (from tuberculosis-wracked communities) shivering in a chilly hallway, lined up in their nighties to receive cough medicine; no heating fires in the building, “except for the day the inspector visited” during a wet and windy autumn; donated quilts sold instead of used; boys with “no underwear of any kind”; girls – all 52 of them – lined up to wash in two basins still containing the water they had used the night before.
Ms. Affleck deplored the gap between the Christian values the school proclaimed, and reality: the “prayers are meaningless … all the religious knowledge these little Indians get is a matter for form only. Of a Gospel of love and light they hear nothing.”
Her letter to Dr. Barner was dated Oct. 3. Steps would be taken to remedy the situation, he replied. But just over a month later, Ms. Affleck wrote again to say she had been called to the principal’s office. “Your cheque is there on the desk; the truck will take you to Whitewood tomorrow,” the principal had said.
She asked if there was any explanation.
“None, except the church demands the immediate dismissal of anyone disloyal to the staff.”
When she protested that she had reported “only conditions that should not exist and to the proper authorities,” he said, “You may take either a morning or an afternoon train.”
Ms. Affleck belonged to a select group of women who, at different times and place, paid a price for trying to bring a gentler vision to the schools: Elizabeth Shaw, for example, fired from the school in Port Simpson, B.C., for a letter of protest she wrote in 1898; Ilma Dunn, fired from Port Simpson 32 years later for playing basketball with native students and visiting in their homes.
For her part, Ms. Affleck was philosophical. “I was quite the only one who could afford to lose her job over the affair,” she said later.
She returned to her family home in Lanark, Ont. remaining there until she died in 1949, living simply, writing widely-printed editorials for The Lanark Era.
“Every time I was home, it was a treat to talk with her,” George Affleck says, “She was interested in everything going. Especially theological discussions. Especially about how the Bible related to life today.”
Congratulations to the Lanark County Genealogical Society (LCGS) on their 40th anniversary!
We also would like to thank the LCGS for having invited us to speak at their monthly meeting yesterday. We look forward to collaborating with the LCGS in the future.
Lanark, ON – Over the years, the Middleville and District Museum has become a popular destination for residents and visitors alike who want to learn more about the community’s past. And to help the museum remain a vital part of the area in the long-term, some upgrades were needed. Thanks to a $24,900 Capital grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) last year, the museum has upgraded its plumbing and electrical systems, and made the building more accessible.
“I am grateful to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for extending the Middleville Museum’s ability to continue being a fantastic historical resource for the community and visitors, and fostering the opportunity for an expansion of the community programming and events that the Museum hosts. The dedication of the Museum volunteers and supporters is a testimony to the value of commitment,” noted Randy Hillier, MPP for Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston.
The work done with the OTF grant has created a more comfortable environment at the museum for visitors who come to see its extensive rural village and agricultural exhibits, and for genealogists who use the museum’s family and local history archives. The grant also helped make needed accessibility upgrades to the kitchen and washroom. As well, a generous neighbour has donated an acre of land which will be used to build a parking lot, create accessible parking and allow for room for a bus to pull up near the front entrance.
Thanks to this work, Middleville Museum will be able to offer a greater range of programs, demonstrations, classes, book launches and guest speakers’ series. A program that’s already underway is one that involves Grade 3 Pioneer Studies. For more information on this initiative and more, please visit:www.middlevillemuseum.org
Thank you to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for supporting the Museum’s efforts to be an inclusive, informative, creative outlet for the community. Please note, the Museum is closed until May 2021.
The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. OTF awarded $115 million to 644 projects last year to build healthy and vibrant communities in Ontario. www.otf.ca
President, Board of Directors
Middleville and District Museum
Curator Alice Borrowman Recognized for her Volunteer Service by the Ontario Museum Association (OMA) at their Annual Conference
“The Museum had a great series of events planned for the 2020 season – but of course, Covid-19 overturned everything. We are now planning for a foreshortened season (with many wonderful events postponed to 2021) and will announce this season’s revised program as soon as we know our opening date. Stay tuned!”
In the meantime we held our first "in-person" board meeting in over three months, yay!
Museum is pleased to announce a fundraising concert featuring the dynamic fiddler, Cindy Thompson on September 7 from 7 - 9 p.m. at the Middleville Agricultural Hall.
There is something for everyone in Cindy Thompson’s energetic fiddling. She draws from an extensive range of traditional fiddle styles, learned through personal experience and from a career that has taken her to local, National and International stages for over 35 years. Along with teaching and performing, Cindy continues to develop new traditional styles and enjoys teaching them to her many students throughout Ontario.
Cindy will be performing with her son, Jake Butineau, on the keyboard. Jake is a professional composer for video games and visual media based in Toronto, ON with credits in over 40 media projects including video games (music & sound design), film and internet.
Joining them as special guests on stage will be Cindy's husband Bruce Strathearn (on fiddle ) and her talented sister, Wendy Phillips.
Wherever she goes, Cindy's fun, enthusiastic approach builds an amazing rapport with her audience. Cindy’s passion for traditional music shows every time she performs or picks up her fiddle.
Tickets are available in Almonte at Baker Bob's and Mill Street Books, at the Museum in Middleville and by eTransfer through email@example.com. Get your tickets early; you will not want to miss this fun evening.
Tickets for this Fundraising event are non-refundable.
A native of Perth, Ontario, Ron W. Shaw studied journalism at Algonquin College and worked for newspapers, radio and television in northern and western Ontario for a decade before a 35 year career with non-governmental relief and development organizations in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
Ron will be our guest speaker at the Museum on Sunday July 28 at 1:30. He will be recounting some stories from his latest book, A Swarm of Bees, featuring some of the local families involved in the early days of conversion to the Mormon Church in Lanark and Dalhousie Twps. (The complete list of families is part of the attached map.)
A Swarm of Bees recounts a journey begun in 1820 that, over the course of 50 years, took 18 ‘Lanark Society Settler’ families from the slums of Glasgow to the Great Salt Lake Valley. These pioneer families, who first settled in what is now Lanark County, Ontario, were among the earliest converts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Their story unfolds in the context of the founding and earliest days of the Mormon Church, as they follow their new faith through the Ohio and Missouri settlements, to Nauvoo Illinois, the refugee camps of Council Bluffs Iowa, and finally along Mormon
Trail to Utah.
Celebrate Family History Day at the Middleville Museum with a performance by the fabulous Cindy Thompson on Sunday June 23. Tour the museum, take in a talk on family history resources and enjoy some homemade goodies from 11-3 p.m. Cindy and her husband Bruce Strathearn will play in the afternoon. Admission $5 for adults. Children under 12 free.
There is something for everyone in Cindy Thompson’s energetic fiddling. She draws from an extensive range of traditional fiddle styles, learned through personal experience and from a career that has taken her to local, National and International stages for over 45 years. Along with teaching and performing, Cindy continues to develop new traditional styles and enjoys teaching them to her many students in the local area. Come and meet Cindy with her husband Bruce Strathearn as they share their favourite fiddle tunes from the past and present.
Bruce Strathearn started learning the fiddle as an adult and has become a very accomplished fiddle player. He especially enjoys the Scottish and Cape Breton music. Bruce will be joining his wife Cindy Thompson in her performances this season. He looks forward to teaching fiddle music and sharing his knowledge to students in the local area. You can also sit in on a talk by David Murdoch to find out what family history resources are in the museum, including a look at our Lanark Families page on Ancestry. Check out the history and stories of Irish settlers and immigrants. See you there!
CELEBRATE! It’s time to celebrate; time to embrace who we are and where we came from………….and that’s exactly what we did. MIDDLEVILLE AND DISTRICT MUSEUM had it’s seasonal Opening Tea on Sunday May 19, 2019.
People were swept back into the past during a day of ongoing activity. Featured was the “Irish Immigrants of Lanark Township. Displays were set up to give visitors and insight into the lives of our Irish ancestors; what brought them here, how they arrived and what they experienced once they got here.
Guest speakers from various families gave their personal accounts gleaned from their family archives. Thorpe Moulton advanced us through 953 years of their family history from his military ancestor Sir Thomas De Moulton who fought with William the Conqueror in 1066 to William Moulton who was heralded for saving numerous lives when he was sent by the British Navy to round up the mutineers of the “Bounty” in 1791 and on to where their family is today in the farming community of Lanark Highlands.
Gerald Tenant talked about the rich history of his family and significant contribution they made to the settlement of the Highlands of Lanark.
Doris Quinn gave us a preview of what can be expected in her upcoming book about the early Quinn Settlement around Boyd’s and Ferguson Falls.
We were entertained in the morning by Irish fiddling from a group of musicians who share their common interest and meet together on a regular basis in Middleville. In the afternoon our toes were kept tapping by another group called “Fiddlers and Friends”. They are a group who meet regularly in Maberly to enjoy their united passion for the art of fiddling.
We certainly celebrated in style but the celebration is not over. We will continue our Irish focus for the rest of the summer. Don’t let that stop you from coming if you have Scottish or English heritage because we have lots for you too. Our next big event will be Family History Day on June 23, 2019. If you want to find out more about us go to our facebook page or sign into middlevillemuseum.blogspot.com. Looking forward to seeing you.
We are looking forward to welcoming you to our country museum located in the village of Middleville. Originally set in an 1861 two-story stone school, the museum expanded in the 1970s and then again in 2013. Our facility is now wheelchair accessible.
We are currently undergoing a bit of construction (which will not interfere with your visit) while we install some much needed indoor plumbing.
The Museum is home to an extensive collection of local artifacts, and archival and genealogical records. Open Friday, Saturday, Sunday Holiday Mondays 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Victoria Day thru Thanksgiving or by appointment. Admission: $5.00 per person, 12 and under free. Contact: 2130 Conc. 6D, Middleville, Ontario, K0G 1K0
Phone: 613-259-5462 or 613-259-0228
This journal is written, researched, and maintained by the volunteers of the Middleville Museum.