Local History Guardians Share their Treasure

By Willa Wick in Community, Places, Events, & History

It’s a good thing Grant MacKenzie lives on the higher side of town. If a flash flood ever hit his basement a large part of Harriston’s history, in photographs and documents would be ruined. Ditto for the likes of Garry MacDougall, Carol Homuth, and Roy Charters
And that’s just a few of the unofficial historians around. How many others have attics and basements with “gramma’s stuff” stored in a corner waiting to see the light of day again?
Well, hopefully folks will take a long hard look at what’s in storage and what to do with it. Recently HDHC was formed. That stands for Harriston Community Historical Committee, a group of 10 like-minded pack-rats who want to see attic and basement treasures rounded up, recorded, and stored in one place. The consensus is “what pertains to Harriston stays in Harriston”.
The committee has already applied for corporation status, which will make them eligible to apply for provincial grants, and issue tax receipts. The dream of the committee is to find permanent lodgings for all collections.
In addition to the above, the committee also includes Sharon Weber, Bob and Jane Brown, Mary Jean Hartwig, Ron Leslie and Willa Wick. Contact any one of these members and they will be happy to give you advice or help you sort through artifacts.
To help bring history to the forefront, exhibits will be displayed in various store windows throughout the coming year. The first, for the month of February, was set up in Davie’s Antiques window and it highlighted the Harriston Stove Company (often referred to as the Foundry). Two wood burning stoves from the 1910 era, bright and shiny as 100 years ago, stood front row center, surrounded by photos of the staff from the factory, record books and the building history. Also displayed were small trinkets handed out as advertising tools much the same as pens and baseball caps are promotional pieces today. One of the more unique items was a small cast alligator with bottle-opener jaws. We’re stumped as to why an alligator would be chosen as a mascot in this northern climate, but obviously there’s a story out there somewhere, if only we can dig it up.
The late Fred Beck kept great records, and from his sales books there are pictures, descriptions and prices of all the models available when the factory was in operation. The Harriston Stove Company was in business from 1905 to 1965. Most of the building is still intact and forms part of the Speare Seeds complex.
Future displays planned by the group include one featuring the Harriston Woodworking Company, which will be set up in the window at Don Wallace and Sons Plumbing and Heating on Elora Street.
History happens every day, but it must be recorded for future generations to access. Today’s events are the tomorrow’s history.