Old traditions
Connie Johnston and Judy James under the Russell flag on display at Keith Boyd Museum. Van Dusen photo

RUSSELL – Depending on cost and other possible complications, the Russell and District Historical Society is planning to renew the village flag as part of its 30th anniversary celebrations.

Sitting under the colourful flag, historical society president Judy James agreed with members during a regular meeting Monday to investigate having new copies made for sale to the general public; secretary Connie Johnston will get the project started. The society currently has a few miniature versions for $50 each; the last time it had full-sized flags available, they sold for $150 each.

Members agreed it was a worthy project, something that had been looked into at least a year ago but set aside when other things came up.

The colourful flag was created more than 25 years ago, a project led by Greg Rokosh and a community committee. The design was approved by the Chief Herald of Canada, making Russell one of few Canadian communities of its size to fly its own official flag. Public use was never widespread; the flag was raised for a few years on a pole outside the former Russell Library when it was located in the refurbished general store on Mill Street.

The flag shows a golden crossroads on a red background – representing Russell Village’s former brick-making industry – with the Castor River running through it, a silver beaver at the centre, and a scythe and combined water and train wheels in opposite corners. The scythe represents the farming tradition and the wheel represents the early days of water-powered milling along the river, together with the New York Central Railway as the dominant form of transportation.

At the same time the flag was unveiled, a village coat of arms and motto were introduced. Written in Latin, the motto is: Unity, Harmony and Strength.

For several years, the flag all but disappeared from view until Dr. Gerry Heymans, a member of the original committee, brought it back about a decade ago, paying to have three copies made, one for the fire department, one for Rokosh as chair of Russell Police Village trustees – which he gave to the historical society – and one auctioned by the Lions Club purchased by Nancy and Peter Romme.

Recently retired, Heymans himself will be the subject of a Lions event, a farewell dinner March 2.