Pictured (L-R): Pat Zegers, Anna Jean Annett, Lois Kruppe, Marg Carroll, Mary DeDeckere, Donna Lyle, Chris Blagden, Eleanor Lyle, Pat Curtis, Marg Palmer, Anna Lunn and Ann Brown.
Congratulations to the Members of Middlemarch WI (Elgin County District, Southern Area) who celebrated their Branch’s 100th Anniversary on Sunday, February 25, 2018 at the Fingal United Church. Their first meeting was held on February 18, 1918, during the First World War. At that time, Middlemarch was a thriving community with stores, a hotel, a church, a wagon maker’s shop and a blacksmith’s shop. A stagecoach delivered mail and passengers and the Pere Marquette Railroad ran through the community; it was stopped by a flagman, when required, for passengers or to load farm produce to be shipped. Sugar beets were a popular crop at one time.
Middlemarch’s proximity to St. Thomas and the coming of automobiles, resulted in the demise of the businesses in the community. Only an historic sign located at the intersection of Fingal Line and John Wise Line, two plaques and one cairn remain to depict its past. One sign recognizes the importance of the Historic Talbot Road which opened the settlement to the pioneer settlers. Another historic plaque honours Dr. John Rolph, a doctor, lawyer and politician, who started the first medical school in St. Thomas, was elected to the government of Upper Canada, and because of his involvement in the rebellion of 1937, was forced to flee to the United States for several years. He eventually started a medical school in Toronto which led to the beginning of the medical school of the University of Toronto.
The cairn is placed at the farm which once belonged to Neil McAlpine and his family. They supplied seed wheat to the area farmers after a killer frost in 1842 destroyed the crops and they only asked that one bushel of grain be returned to them for every bushel of seed a farmer received.
Mrs. J.R. Futcher (Dorothy), the Branch’s former President, also served as FWIO President from 1947 to 1950. She encouraged Branches to write their Tweedsmuir Histories, founded the Elgin County Museum and wrote Museum Newsletters for the local St. Thomas Times-Journal.
Middlemarch WI’s membership today stands at nineteen. The group usually meets in one another’s homes and truly enjoys fellowship with their neighbours. Funds raised are donated to worthwhile organizations or to where a need is apparent. Their hope is that the younger generation will continue to enjoy the fellowship and keep Middlemarch the close-knit community it is today.