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Catch the spirit UELAC 2011 conference.

Over the more than forty years of fits existence, the Colonel Edward Jessup Branch has held a multitude of events but it had never taken on the challenge of hosting a national conference of The United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada. That is until this year when, from 02 to 05 June, branch members welcomed delegates and guests from across Canada to Brockville in the 1000 Islands region of Eastern Ontario for Conference 2011 with the theme "Catch the Spirit of our Loyalist ancestors who settled on the north shore of the upper St. Lawrence River."

For many years, the branch executive had mulled over the idea of hosting a conference here. In particular, a stalwart past president of our branch and a great worker in the UELAC, the late Edgar Clow UE, had pushed for the branch to host the conference but, being a relatively small organization, we were not sure if we were up to the challenge.

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However, at the Bay of Quinte conference in 2009, Myrtle Johnston, then branch president, and I, as branch vice-president as well as regional councillor for Central Region East of the UELAC, took the bull by the horns, so to speak, and agreed to host Conference 2011. Both Myrtle and I had attended several conferences of the UELAC and I had served on the committee for Conference 2001 hosted by St. Lawrence Branch in Cornwall.

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What we did not know at the time were the challenges we would face in staging the event. Because of an absolutely fabulously team of organizers, I can report that, through their extremely hard work and dedication, Conference 2011 was an overwhelming success.

When Myrtle and I were returning from Adophustown after Conference 2009, we were of course discussing the potential events for Conference 2011 and the first topic that came to mind was a dinner cruise through the 1000 Islands. Being from this area, Myrtle and I had been on cruises before and we knew visitors, especially those who had never been to this region, would love to see the absolutely breathtaking beauty of the 1000 Islands, one of the premier tourism destinations in North America.

Certainly, the Friday evening cruise, which was very well attended, was our signature event and guests not only took in the natural beauty of the region but were treated to a lovely sunset as the boat made its way back to the picturesque town of Gananoque where the cruise originated and finished. Those on the cruise were also treated to historical commentary-yes, the islands have a lot of history--and a delicious buffet supper. I may add at this point the organizing committee had gone to great lengths to ensure conference visitors would have good food at our various venues.

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The United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, the 1000 Islands, run through this political region and have much to offer.

Our St. Lawrence Tour, which also proved to be our most popular, took visitors to historic sites along the river east of Brockville including the home of Loyalist Dr. Solomon Jones UE, the monument to Loyalist Barbara Heck UE in the Blue Church Cemetery, the restored Fort Wellington in Prescott and the Battle of the Windmill site just east of the community. As an added bonus, this tour concluded at the Iroquois Lock to give visitors a close-up look at one segment of the St. Lawrence Seaway, one of the major shipping routes in North America.

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The second historical tour through central Leeds County visited: the Wiltse Pioneer Cemetery--a Loyalist burial ground restored by the Colonel Edward Jessup Branch; the Delta Mill, a national historic site; and, finally, Jones Falls, a major segment on the Rideau Canal, now a designated World Heritage Site.

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Our Welcome Night on 02 June was held in the Brockville Rowing Club. While the building is fairly new, rowing competitions in the community date back to the 1800s and rowers from the club have competed and won in national, international and Olympic competitions. Along with greetings from local mayors, we also had an excellent presentation on the history of the region by Amy Whitehorne, educator at the Brockville Museum.

As a bonus, a large freighter slipped by the club on the St. Lawrence River during the evening. Living near the river, we are familiar with the passage of large ships which come quite close to the Canadian shore because the river is deepest here but it is still quite a sight for new visitors to the area.

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We also called Welcome Night our dessert night since my wife, Helen, who is descended from a long line of excellent farm cooks, had prepared many of her excellent desserts for the enjoyment of our visitors.

For those who were not attending our annual meeting, we arranged a shopping tour to the lovely village of Merrickville founded by Loyalist William Merrick UE and located on the Rideau River north of Brockville.

Our gala banquet was held at the Brockville Armouries. We selected this location because military service has long been a tradition in the region and some form of militia soldiers has existed in the area since the time of the Loyalists. Our guest speaker, retired teacher and historian Brian Porter, gave us an interesting presentation on James Morrow Walsh who had a distinguished career as one of the first members of the Northwest Mounted Police (later the Royal Canadian Mounted Police) and had a close relationship with the great Sioux chief, Sitting Bull. Walsh was born in nearby Prescott and lived the final years of his life in Brockville.

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The concluding event at Conference 2011, the church service, was also very well attended. We joined with the congregation of First Presbyterian Church in Brockville that was celebrating its 200th anniversary. Loyalists had been members of this congregation.

The many positive comments about Conference 2011 from Association members attending the event were extremely encouraging for all the members of the organizing committee. I can recall at our last wrap-up meeting on 24 June, spirits were very high because we knew the conference had been a success.

I will conclude by expressing my heartfelt appreciation to all our committee members--Gary and Lise Jessup, Barbara and Ken Law, Fraser and Ann Carr, Myrtle Johnston, Jackie Brede, Barry Gardiner, Helen Young, Don Clunas, David Mackenzie and Don Galna, the individuals and organizations that offered other assistance and the many dedicated volunteers who collectively ensured members of the UELAC had an enjoyable and memorable time at Conference 2011.

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By Roy Lewis UE, Chair, Conference 2011 UELAC
COPYRIGHT 2011 United Empire Loyalists' Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2011 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada's conference entitled 'Catch the Spirit of our Loyalist ancestors who settled on the north shore of the upper St. Lawrence River'
Author:Lewis, Roy
Publication:The Loyalist Gazette
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:Sep 22, 2011
Words:1112
Previous Article:UELAC President's message.
Next Article:"Conference at the confluence".
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