Bicentennial: The busy schedule includes parties and reunions
By GEOFF TURNER THE LONDON FREE PRESS
Two hundred years of history were packed into three days of fun as Wardsville celebrated the bicentennial of its founding.
The busy weekend schedule included dinners, dances, reunions and reminiscences centered on the baseball field at Kin Park.
The centerpiece of the celebration was the unveiling of the Barn Quilt project, a collection of painted wood panels that symbolically document the life of Wardsville founder George Ward.
Organizer Denise Corneil said more than 1,200 hours of labour and 80 gallons (364 litres) of paint went into the project with volunteers aged from 10 to 86 chipping in to the effort.
She said Art and Louise Long — both 86 and referred to by some as the grandparents of Wardsville — each spent 50 hours painting.
“They don’t even wear glasses and they’re so steady on the hand,” she said.
The steadiness was evident in the precise geometric designs of the blocks.
The vibrant panels are called barn quilts because they mimic traditional quilting block designs. The panels will eventually be mounted on barns, buildings and posts in and around Wardsville to create a five-kilometre circuit for visitors.
Corneil also unveiled a handmade quilt featuring miniatures of the barn quilt blocks.
She said the quilt was the result of over 500 hours of volunteer effort by local quilters.
There was also a historical re-enactment at baseball field with a pioneer encampment simulating life as it must have been like for early settlers to the area.
Steve Ferguson, in the role of a pioneering shepherd, even brought his sheep and chickens for added realism. Along with fellow re-enactor Nathan Vyskocil, Ferguson shattered the small-town calm by firing period muskets.
Storyteller Shaymus Gunn who has been telling 1812 stories for more than ten years, said even he learned something new over the weekend. He was shocked to hear how town father George Ward had spent his later years trying to clear his name of charges of treason.
“If people had looked at his life before the war, there would have been no question of his loyalty,” he said.
Another special bicentennial event, the Wardsville legacy photo project, encouraged families of the town to stand for photos to create a historical record for future generations. Families were also asked to bring their own historical family photos to contribute to the collection.
The final event of the weekend, scheduled for Sunday evening, was a potluck supper and old-time tent revival church dinner and under the tent at Kin Park.