Drumroll please…
Barry Carscadden and Mayor Pierre Leroux unveil the Carscadden Bridge plaque. Van Dusen photo

Ready to ride
One of the big Heritage Day attractions was the horse-drawn wagon rides.
Van Dusen photo

RUSSELL – A heritage plaque program initiated by the Russell & District Historical Society has been adopted and will be expanded by Russell Township, Mayor Pierre Leroux announced Saturday.

Leroux was taking part in the annual Heritage Day organized by the society, where the first four bronze plaques designed by John Jackson of Things Made were unveiled; one at the Church Museum, one at the cemetery behind the museum, one at the former Registry Office recalling the Great Fire of 1915, and one at what is now Carscadden Bridge spanning the Castor River on Concession Street. Each plaque features an historical photo and brief bilingual descriptive text.

Formerly known as Coronation Bridge, which few residents were aware of, the new name pays tribute to one of Russell’s founding families, owners of the local Home Hardware, who established some of the village’s first water-powered industries close to where the United Counties of Prescott and Russell bridge now stands.

The unveiling was part of a highly successful Heritage Day which benefitted from exceptional weather and good attendance, to offer horse-drawn wagon rides, a workshop and a presentation, as well as paying tribute with comments and a cake to the late Keith Boyd and members of the founding committee on the occasion of the museum’s 30th anniversary.

Several of those members or family representatives were present. Back in the day, their biggest challenge was to acquire, load and transport across the river a former Baptist Church which was transformed into a museum in Boyd’s name. Several years later, the former village fire hall was added to the complex. The list of museum founders includes: president – Keith Boyd; vice-president – Wendell Stanley; secretary – Janet Scharf; treasurer – Jean Millaire and directors – Tom Van Dusen, Baird McNeill, Mary Rowsell, Kate Wilkinson and Bruce Woolsey. Late Keith Boyd was represented by daughter Linda; late Baird McNeill by daughter Sandra and wife Nylene; late Wendell Stanley, Janet Scharf and Kate Wilkinson were not represented. Van Dusen, Millaire, Rowsell and Woolsey were present and accounted for during the celebrations.

“A generation which ignores history has no past and no future,” said Leroux, quoting an American writer. He took part in the unveiling ceremonies along with councillors Cindy Saucier and Mike Tarnowski. “We are here today, not only to make sure we aren’t ignoring our past but quite the opposite, we are here to make sure we shine a light on it.”

Stating that 20 markers will be in place across the municipality over the next five years, the mayor said the new Historical Plaque Program will honour and preserve stories that have shaped the community, for residents and tourists alike. The program, he said, was launched in Russell Village due to a “partnership” with the historical society. Thanks to another partnership, a plaque is now being prepared for Embrun.

As the program progresses, further details about each existing plaque and new plaques will be added to the township website along with tour maps and videos of residents’ stories. The township is inviting members of the public to provide suggestions for future historic plaques.