sfjwzls · 2021-03-10

History buffs ‘enrich communities’

Three local residents are among more than 200 volunteers honoured recently by the Ontario Heritage Trust.

Tiny Township resident T. Philip Adams, Midland’s Dennis Brabant and Tay Township’s Ray DesChenes were honoured through the Heritage Community Recognition Program for significant contributions to built, cultural and natural heritage preservation.    

“Through their work to conserve Ontario’s heritage, these volunteers have enriched our communities, and we are grateful for their efforts,” David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, stated in a news release. “I am pleased that they are being celebrated for their tremendous accomplishments.”

Wes Crown, Midland’s director of planning and development, said Brabant was nominated because of his commitment to maintaining the cultural heritage of the downtown.

“He was the chair of the BIA, and it was during his tenure that the murals went up. He was instrumental in launching and supporting the historic mural program,” said Crown, adding Brabant was also critical in the celebration of the 125th-anniversary celebration for the post office and landing grants for tourism operators.

“He was a big booster of downtown Midland and promoting everything (to do with) heritage.”

Brabant has also served on the Huronia Museum board of directors, helping modernize the museum to better tell the story of its collection and the native history of the region.

Tay’s Ray DesChenes is an artist and illustrator by trade, but became an avid conservator working on projects both in his community and overseas, Mara Burton, director of planning and development for the township, told The Mirror.

“He aided in the restoration in two of the township’s heritage buildings … most notably the hardware store in Victoria Harbour, and he also works on the old municipal office,” she said.

DesChenes, who was nominated by the heritage committee, was one of the original members of the local architectural conservation advisory committee (now known as the heritage committee) in 1979, noted Burton, who works with DesChenes on the committee.

“He is the nicest man. He’s gentle, passionate, caring…. He’s a fantastic man (and) a very valuable resource to us because of his knowledge.”

Described as the man who formed the backbone of the Township of Tiny historical and heritage committee for more than five years, Adams in known for his love of local history and his enthusiasm to promote, preserve and protect it.

Adams, who has served as chair of the committee, is described as a driving force in preserving the heritage of the community. He is also the author of two books on the history of the township.

“He is very dedicated to heritage in his township,” said Coun. André Claire. “He is a very knowledgeable person, too.”

The annual Heritage Community Recognition Program helps communities recognize volunteers for their work to preserve, protect and promote Ontario’s heritage.