On Friday, February 15, 2019 the Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts opened its doors for the annual Heritage Day Workshop, hosted by the City of Brantford in partnership with the Heritage Working Group of the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA).
The day opened with an Oyez! Oyez! cry from Brantford’s Town Crier, David McKee, who wrote a Brantford history-themed cry specifically for this event. Greetings were extended from local dignitaries, including MP Phil McColeman, MPP Will Bouma, and Councillor Dan McCreary.
The day started with a panel about Brantford’s industrial history, moderated by Dara Bowser of the Brantford Brownfields Community Advisory Committee. Presentations from Bruce Hill, Rob Adlam, Tara Tran, and Joy O’Donnell gave some context from the rise of modern industry in Brantford, through to the current Mohawk Lake District revitalization project. Attendees remarked on the vast industrial history of Brantford, and noted that we could have spent the entire day speaking about this topic alone.
The next panel focused on Brantford’s significant indigenous and military history. A talk from Paul Racher about the recent YMCA archaeological findings as a challenge to the colonial narrative was a crowd favourite. We also heard from Phil Monture and Rick Hill, who taught us about the history of the covenant chain as it relates to military matters. Thanks are extended to Gary Warrick, Professor of Indigenous Studies and History, for moderating this panel.
After a delicious lunch provided by Good Friends Sandwich Company, and refilling on some refreshments from Blue Dog Coffee Roasters, the attendees met again for the 2nd half of the indigenous history theme. Lindsay Monture from Woodland Cultural Centre delivered an “honest” and “profound” presentation, and presented the first off-site viewing of the Mohawk Institute Residential School virtual tour, which moved some attendees to tears.
Finally, Eva Salter from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport moderated the last panel on Brantford’s cultural revolution. Karen Richardson presented on Victorian history in Brantford, Glenn Brown spoke about the Sanderson Centre and its 100 year history in Brantford, and we wrapped up with Dr. Kate Carter’s inspiring talk, “Let’s Keep Brantford Weird: Regenerating our Arts and Culture Legacy.”
The Heritage Day Workshop travels along the Grand River Watershed, and is hosted the Friday before Family Day during Heritage Week. To keep in touch with where the workshop is headed next year, be sure to sign up for the GRCA e-newsletter.
The Local Arrangements Committee would like to thank all attendees for giving us the time to talk about Brantford’s heritage. Thank you to the two exceptional moderators for the day – David Neumann and Peter Jaycock – who kept the attendees informed, entertained, and the speakers on track for the day.
Photograph of Rick Hill speaking about the covenant chain. Captured by Dean Ellis.