A lovely, solemn day. Thank you to all who could join us.
Last year our area commemorated the Great Storm of 1913 and won the Governor General’s History Awards for Excellence in Community Programming.
For our part we presented a very successful dinner theatre “The White Hurricane”. During the evening we raffled off prints of the ships we featured in the production. Proceeds of the raffle and a generous grant from the Municipality of Bluewater allowed us to erect another historical plaque in St Joseph’s Memorial Park. The plaque faces the spot in the lake where the Wexford lies.
Duncan McGregor was presented with the Warden’s Award by Huron County Warden Joe Steffler at the Huron Arts & Heritage Network awards night on May 2, 2014. This award recognizes outstanding achievement by an individual across all categories. The St. Joseph & Area Historical Society congratulates Duncan for this well deserved recognition.
Joe Wooden and Pat Rowe are congratulated for receiving a joint nomination for the Community Contribution Award.
Thank you – all shows are sold out and the waiting list is closed
Approximately 20 community actors and musicians will bring to life the first hand experiences of St. Joseph and nearby communities (from north of Goderich to south of Grand Bend plus more in-land towns such as Zurich, Exeter and Hensall) during the storm and its aftermath. The event begins in the main building of Hessenland Country Inn. Guests arrive at the main dining room (Garden Room) where they are greeted with drinks and hors d’oeuvres. As they socialize, they witness the arguments of the ships’ Captains as they decide whether to risk one last voyage even in the face of a rising super storm. The guests witness 2 sailors from one of the doomed vessels getting arrested for drunkenness (which actually saved their lives). They also witness one of the vessels’ engineers warning against going out on Lake Huron given the danger of the approaching weather. The warnings are disregarded and the Captains decide to go. All the guests are guided by the Captains to take the Hessenland Coach House where, as they approach, they are warned once more by weather forecasters with updates shouting out at them from the lighthouse-like tower of the Coach House. The warnings are once again ignored. Inside the Coach House the guests are seated at the dining tables where they enjoy a wonderful meal plus the continuous presentation through music and action of the story of the storm, the doom of the vessels and sailors and the experience of the onshore population during and after the storm. The guests witness the storm’s effect on farms and towns, the aftermath of the storm when bodies floated to the shores, and the attempts to honour the dead sailors through the services and identifying the bodies for loved ones. Although the storm was a tragedy, the event had ironic humour, action and an unifying humanity which we will present to our guests. Articles Written about the Great Lakes Storm of 1913 Summary of Historical Context: The Great Lakes Storm of 1913, historically referred to as the “Big Blow”, the “Freshwater Fury”, or the “White Hurricane”, was a blizzard with hurricane-force winds that devastated the Great Lakes Basin in the Midwestern United States and the Canadian province of Ontario from November 7 through November 10, 1913. As the deadliest and most destructive natural disaster ever to hit the lakes, the Great Lakes storm
- killed more than 250 people
- destroyed 19 ships, stranded 19 others and
- did considerable damage along the shorline.
The financial loss in vessels alone was nearly US $5 million, or about $100 million at current value. This included about $1 million at current value in lost cargo (coal, iron ore, and gran) totalling about 68,300 tons. The storm, an extra-tropical cyclone, originated as the convergence of two major storm fronts fueled by the lakes’ relatively warm waters- a seasonal process called a “November gale.” It produced 90 mph (145 km/h) wind gusts, waves over 35 feet (11m) high, and whiteout snow-squalls.
A Drum To Beat Upon by Joseph L. Wooden & Commemorative Brother André Plaque
The Book: A Drum to Beat Upon
By Joseph L. Wooden, this book tells the “story of St. Joseph, Ontario, the City that never was on the shores of Lake Huron and Narcisse Cantin the ‘Wizard of St. Joseph'”. Published April 1971.
Cost: $20 plus shipping. Please mail cheque or money order payable to “The St. Joseph & Area Historical Society”.
The Plaque: Brother André & St. Joseph Commemorative Plaque
This commemorative plaque was created by area sculptor Frank Moore. It depicts Brother André praying to St. Joseph who is holding Baby Jesus. The plaque is made from the original mold created in the Cantin Novelty Factory and copyrighted in 1955. Please note, due to the nature of the plaque, colour variations in the concrete are not exactly as shown and can differ slightly plaque to plaque.
In the bottom left corner it reads “St. Joseph” and in the bottom right corner it reads “Pray for us” in English and French (“Priez pour nous”). The initials “JMJ” appear in the bottom right corner. In the upper left corner is the Cross.
Cost: $25. Due to the nature of this plaque and its weight, this item is available for purchase in person only.