Discovering our history
By Jenn Watt
Jan. 10, 2017
Residents packed Haliburton’s A.J. LaRue Arena this weekend to watch the first public screening of Kim Emmerson’s Dysart 150 The Movie, a short history of the founding of Dysart et al, and enjoy activities planned to mark the occasion. The kick-off event coincided with the incorporation of Dysart et al on Jan. 7, 1867.
Dysart et al shares its sesquicentennial year with Canada and it’s the perfect time to get better acquainted with our own history.
According to Emmerson’s film, (which will be shown again during additional celebrations on July 7 and released on DVD sometime after that) at the time of incorporation there were 276 people in the municipality. Things weren’t smooth or easy for people who moved to the Highlands back in 1867.
They were promised rich agricultural land good for growing crops and raising livestock at a cheap price. What they got was much different.
“The Canadian Land and Emigration Company wound up in 1889. By the end of their tenure they’d only sold 1/12th of the land in Dysart et al. Unfortunately, most of the investors in the scheme ended up losing their money,” Emmerson says in the film.
Since that time, the area has gone through plenty of change. From lumber barons in its early years to the lodge and resort industry to today’s cottage culture; Dysart et al has evolved with the rest of the country.
“In less than 150 years our society has gone from oxen to driverless cars and rovers on the surface of Mars,” Emmerson says in the film.
Dysart 150 The Movie is a great introduction to how British settlers ended up making their way to the Highlands. The piece introduces the viewer to interesting factoids that bring to life the people behind the area’s founding.
Sir John Henry Kennaway, Lord Josceline William Percy, Thomas Chandler Haliburton, the Earl of Carnarvon and Lady Evelyn Stanhope all have names that should ring a bell and were active during the founding of the region.
Thomas Haliburton was chairman of the board of the Canadian Land and Emigration Company until his death in 1865. Haliburton was a judge and author in Nova Scotia before retiring to England, where he got involved in politics. Throughout his life he encouraged immigration to British North America, writing a book about Nova Scotia for immigrants.
While he is the namesake of the village and county of Haliburton, he was never known to have visited the area.
There’s much that happened between then and now. Throughout the coming year, the Echo will be highlighting some of that history taking advantage of this special birthday to get to know the roots of our community.