Your Wardsville Annual Report 2010

Wardsville Bicentennial: 1810 – 2010.  Honouring the settlers who suffered during the War of 1812 – 1814

thru fabric, film, paint and pen

January 19, 2011

Volunteer Tally – approximate

Number of hours tracked  = ~2500
Number of quilters = 20
Total artisans who painted barn quilt blocks = 146
Glencoe District High School artisans = 15
Mosa Central School artisans = 30
Heritage Spedialists = 33
Musicians = 38
Artists = 11
Organizers and Local Partners = 86
Barn quilt sponsors = 12
Total volunteers approximately 325.  (See Attachment A for detailed tally.


Wardsville’s 200-year celebration goal was to build community pride and put Wardsville back on the map.  Another goal was to kick off the Commemoration of the War of 1812 -1814 (which does not officially begin until 2012).  Wardsville celebrated its past, its present, and the future. It was a thrill to have a government sponsor who demanded that we involve our local artists and artisans in our community and it was the perfect time to commemorate local history and heritage.

Mr. and Mrs. George Ward established their homestead at the request of the British government in 1810.  War was imminent.  The eventual conflict was a terrible disruption to settlers’ lives. Wardsville’s Bicentennial honoured the role that the citizenry played in the War.

Volunteers invested 2500 hours into various projects this year. See attachment A for a table showing the number of volunteers, artists, sponsors, and groups who engaged with the project.   Volunteers:
·       stitched the 30-block George Ward Commemorative Quilt which won second prize at the International Plowing Match in St. Thomas.
·       painted thirty 8’ x 8’ replica Barn Quilt blocks
·       produced a video, Barn Quilt Tour by Crocodile Productions
mounted the 30 quilt blocks on barns and important buildings throughout Wardsville area
·       attracted “kith and Kin” to the village for a rich musical and historical experience on Father’s Day weekend, June 18 – 20, 2010
·       hosted a re-enactment about George Ward and pioneer life in 1810 by Shaymus (Doug Ferguson) and friends.  The re-enactors set up a camp featuring trading post, farm, potting studio, and military encampment of Royal Scots and local militia.
·       hosted the first ever reunion of the Twin Valleys Community & School (1972-1984) which was attended by 80 alumni and their family and friends.  See testimonies below.
·       held a Free Open Air Jam Session at Dave’s Cafe featuring many acts, Dave’s hamburgers, and Bicentennial Funnel Cakes
·       other downtown activities:
TCCU Wardsville community credit union dressed to the nines and in serious business mode.
o      Wardsville Museum with Curator, Ken Willis, and Wardsville interpreters.
o      Wardsville firefighters displaying the brand new Rosenbauer 2010 tanker.
o      Crossroads Bistro serving pizza, subs, fresh cut fries, and burgers.
·       photographed the Photo Legacy project:
o      two professional photograhers, David Chidley and Larry Merrin photographed over 50 groups in a special studio over an 8-hour period
o      John Kendall documented the Wardsville Bicentennial celebrations start to finish on Father’s Day weekend
·       sponsored the 10-minute video “Walking Wardsville” directed by Cara Spooner and Rabyniuk
·       hosted reunions for the Ward descendants and the Lutchin family
·       held a volunteer appreciation event at the Made on Earth Art Gallery in August.
·       presented plaques to all the super volunteers who worked on the barn quilt project
·       held an evening premiere at the Wardsville United Church in early October when the various artistic endeavours thru fabric, film, paint, and pen were shown


Wardsville also sparked the creativity of local and regional artists who:

  • ·       wrote the George Ward Stories (by Rosemary Cranney, Rebecca Clark and Ken Willis) explaining the significance of each barn quilt block as it relates to the George Ward story
  • ·       painted a final mural (Rick Sommer) installed October 30, 2010 at 11 am at the north corner of Longwoods and Hagerty
  • ·       utilized social media to tell Wardsville story – past, present, future – using a WordPress blog, facebook, Google map, YouTube, and others
  • ·       filmed a video (Crocodile Productions) promoting the George Ward Barn Quilt Tour
  • ·       created a series of time capsule and archive packages to store away for the next centennial in 2110

Your Wardsville is particularly proud of attracting creative artists and artisans to live in the community.   For example, Crocodile Productions, a husband and wife film production team, acquired an important heritage building, the Old Wardsville Community Hall (1931), and are preserving it, living in it, and using the hall for what it was attended: hosting community social functions and showing film.  The purchase date was June 19, 2010, the day of the Wardsville Bicentennial celebration.

Social Media

Your Wardsville utilized social media including Google Apps, Google Map, WordPress, facebook and other tools to draw attention to the community, manage their virtual office, promote Wardsville, and promote the Bicentennial heritage and arts events and projects.
So impressed are they with the effort, that they are promoting barn quilts as a means for all rural communities to tell their story.  The main social media channels included
WordPress blog

Legacy Photo Shoot
Wardsville Bicentennial weekend, June 18 and 19, featured a Legacy Photo Shoot. All of Wardsville and area residents, sponsors, and guests were invited to be photographed in digital format by David Chidley and on black and white silver halide film by Larry Merin.  John Kendall,  official roving photographer, took photos of the Bicentennial event over the course of four days.

Over the course of 7 hours,  261 people posed in 51 groupings in a studio set up in the pavillion of the Wardsville Ball park.  The Package Nanny (local business) set up a print shop in the studio and every group received a high quality print on the spot.

Walking Wardsville was filmed by Cara Spooner and Simon Rabyniuk, who met and interviewed several people currently living in Wardsville. Over a period of 48 hours they explored the geography and history of Wardsville. Each individual they met led Spooner/Rabyniuk on a walk to a personally significant location within the town. The walk and shared anecdotes were recorded and edited to create a portrait of this changing town. Walking Wardsville also explored a personal narrative for Spooner whose Grandmother (Fran Lutchin) lives in Wardsville.

Many thanks to the volunteers who helped with the Photo Legacy Project:
Lise Landesborough
Rhonda Long
Rhaelyn Vereecken
Doreen Chidley
David Merrin and family
Mary Simpson
John Kendall
David Chidlen
Larry Merrin
Cara Spooner
Simon Rabyniuk

What Wardsville learned about Barn Quilts

1. The traditional quilt block designs can be selected to tell a story or highlight a theme.  While Wardsville’s story was the War of 1812, the barn quilts can link to any theme.
2. Barn quilts are an attractive visual that can be used as markers for less colourful heritage points: cairns, cemeteries, heritage signs.
3. This form of graphic art is appreciated from the highway by motorists passing at high speeds.
4. Barn quilts are the visual marker that link the story to visitor – from mobile multi-media (such as Google Map, OnCell, facebook, blogs, digital pictures) to people’s mobile communication devices. (smart phones, iPads, Blackberries)
5. Wardsville employed WordPress blogs, Facebook, and other social media with rewarding results. Web 2.0 is bringing new tools online that volunteers can master quite easily when they have the desire to communicate with the outside world.
6. Employing social media requires volunteers with time and interest in writing and linking on-line.
7. Keep the digital technology simple.
a. Google Maps are at the core, accompanied by Facebook, Twitter, and blogs for the content.  Communities can take on additional technology as they are able.
b. Universality is critical.  Data Bases of cultural assets need to be accessible to communities and the travelling audience.
8. All ages are intrigued by barn quilts and are game to get involved.  It’s relatively simple to paint a large impressive mural to be mounted where all can see.
9. Age, ability, and expertise were not factors in the Wardsville barn quilt painting project.  Whether 10 or 86 years of age, anybody can do this form of rural craft.
10. The barn quilts celebrate and build interest in quilting, a traditional craft form that is experiencing resurgence.
11. There can never be too many.  The more there are; the more impressive they become.
12. Like any community project, there are never enough volunteers, especially those with adequate management skills AND time.  Your Wardsville discovered that it was easier to get people involved in the barn quilt project than to interest them in organizing a community event.

The Fabric Quilt

In October 2009, Wardsville’s quilt committee began designing a fabric quilt to commemorate their community’s founders, Mr. and Mrs. George Ward. The initial idea came from Denise Corneil, an artistic community leader who puts Martha Stewart to shame.  She had caught sight of the rural folk art phenomenon called “barn quilts” that are sweeping the United States.  She was impressed by the news that the Temiskaming International Plowing Match 2009 in northern Ontario had created a barn quilt trail featuring over 90 barn quilts.   The Temiskaming project was inspired by the March-April 2007 issue of Country Woman.

Eleanor Blain and Sue Ellis, experienced quilt makers, joined the team and they quickly came up with a scheme to create a quilt involving as many women as possible.  It did not matter whether they were skilled needle workers.  It was a communal project which would involve as many mothers and daughters as possible.

The quilters wanted a story line for their bicentennial commemorative quilt. It was common knowledge that Wardsville was named after a Mr. George Ward. No one knew much about him.  In 1810, Mr George Ward was requested by the British Government to establish a stopping point for travellers along a section of Longwoods Road between Thamesville and Delaware, in Upper Canada. The Western District it was called. That was all they knew.  There were still Ward descendants but none lived in the area. It had been several years since they’d returned for a reunion.

Wardsville is blessed by a local historian who maintains his personal artifact collection in a cute museum in Wardsville.  Ken Willis had written a book about Wardsville featuring the details of George Ward’s life. A retired soldier with a young family, Mr. Ward was asked to supply provisions and fresh horses for the military. There was barely a trail through the Carolinian Forest now called Skunk’s Misery.  In 2010, it is one of the largest remnant of Carolinian forest in Canada.  in 1810, it would have been a nasty section of deep dark forest where travellers, settlers, and regiments were getting lost.   Ward and his family carved  a refuge and homestead out of the forest and called it Ward’s Landing.  Two years later war broke out.  On March 6, 1814, the Battle of the Longwoods took place a couple miles east.  Ward and his wife suffered many trials and tribulations.  Accused of treason by the British, George Ward went to his grave in 1837 still trying to clear his name. His remains are buried in the Wardsville cemetery.

With a romantic and somewhat mysterious life line to work with, the quilters poured over heritage quilt block patterns.  Thirty blocks were selected to tell the story of Mr. and Mrs. Ward.  The feminine side of the story could not be omitted. It was clear Mrs. Ward played a critical role. Barn quilt block designs were carefully selected to represent the family’s struggles, the Battle of the Longwoods, and the social history of that time. Their story was brought to life through the choice of quilt blocks, colours, and quilt design.  A tremendous number of hours go into a quilt: from selecting fabric to cutting shapes to the hundreds of hours of stitching. Sue Ellis and Eleanor Blain stepped up to the plate.  They invited everyone to lend a hand.  Many experienced and non-experienced quilters visited the quilt frame at Beattie Haven Retirement Home to put in a stitch or two.

When it was unveiled at Wardsville United Church May 14th, the crowd gasped in awe. The following Saturday, the George Ward Commemorative Quilt was rolled up and taken to Shedden for the 2010 International Plowing Match Quilting Competition. Entered in the Group category, this beautiful quilt took second prize.  It was on display in St. Thomas at IPM 2010 in September.

From fabric and thread, to wood and paint: 30 barn quilts

While the quilt will likely never keep toes warm throughout a wintry night, it did warm the souls of the people who made the stitches and proudly call their home Wardsville. From selecting fabric to cutting shapes to threading the needle, the quilt slowly took shape. To honour the work that went into the George Ward Commemorative quilt and to tell the Ward story visually, the quilt blocks were transformed into 30 huge “Barn Quilts” that were hung on barns and important buildings in the community.

Rural eye candy. Identical block designs were painted on special plywood in the same vibrant colours as the fabric blocks – except they are eight feet square and visible for miles when hung on the side of a barn. Rick Sommer advised on the construction and painting.   Denise Corneil coordinated the paint team.   Tom McCallum coordinated the installations.

The painting coordinator put a call out for an initial workshop March 13. 2010. Thirty-two Wardsville citizens showed up to learn the painting technique of “cross hatch” and how to translate an 8-inch square block to 8 feet by 8 feet.  Grade 5/6 Mosa Central public school students created one 8’x8’ block. These 10-11 years old learned about their local history and geometry, transferring the small quilt block pattern and working with exterior paint.  Twelve volunteers from  Glencoe District High School put their elbows and knowledge to the task and created 2 beautiful blocks as well.

Age, ability, expertise was not a factor in the barn quilt painting project.  The willingness to do something interesting and unique for the community was the driver.  Whether 10 or 86 years of age, anybody can do this form of rural craft.

The local retirement home, Beattie Haven, opened up its basement to use as the painting studio.
Wardsville understands that the George Ward Commemorative Barn Quilt Trail is the first Barn Quilt “Story” Trail in North America. Denise Corneil has talked to Suzi Parron, teacher, writer and barn quilt lover from Stone Mountain, Georgia, who is writing a book about barn quilts.  Suzi says that idea of linking the quilts to a historical theme has never been done before.

Lutchin Family Thanks Your Wardsville

We wanted to congratulate all of you on an excellent event!!!!! Our “Lutchin” family had a great time and was most impressed with everything.  A historic event for us…all 8 cousins attended (Nashville, Chicago, Toronto, etc…) It’s been decades since that happened!  Please pass our congratulations to all the event organizers!!!
We wanted to congratulate all of you on an excellent event !!!!! Our “Lutchin” family had a great time and was most impressed with everything. A historic event for us…all 8 cousins attended ( Nashville, Chicago, Toronto, etc…) It’s been decades since that happened ! Please pass our congratulations to all the event organizers !!!We wanted to congratulate all of you on an excellent event !!!!! Our “Lutchin” family had a great time and was most impressed with everything.
A historic event for us…all 8 cousins attended ( Nashville, Chicago, Toronto, etc…) It’s been decades since that happened !  Please pass our congratulations to all the event organizers !!!
Cathy Spooner

Report List

Here is a list of our reports to date.  Only report excerpts are posted here on the Your Wardsville Blog.   Contact for a copy.

  • Your Wardsville: Inventory of Assets, Gifts, and Resources. Minutes of community ideas shared before, during, and after meeting held November 28, 2007 at the Wardsville Community Centre.  Excerpts are posted at
  • Your Wardsville: Opportunities and Commitments: Pathways for Community Learning and Action. Minutes of community ideas shared before, during, and after the second planning meeting held February 7, 2008 meeting at the Wardsville Community Centre. March  2007.  Key question; What do we do with our assets?

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