New edition of Chesterville’s “The Time that Was” in the works; contribute your business history

The Chesterville Heritage Centre, home base for the Chesterville Historical Society. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

CHESTERVILLE — Thirty-three years have passed since the last edition of this village’s local history volume, The Time That Was, and the Chesterville Historical Society figures it’s time for an update.

The organization is in the process of securing new and refreshed articles about the businesses and institutions that have made their mark on Chesterville.

“We’ve had a lot of fun with it, and the people, they’re great in getting back to us,” says Society member Gail Parker. “What’s important about this is the history of Chesterville, getting it back into a book again,” she exclaims.

The second edition of The Time That Was picked up where the original blue hardcover left off in 1977 and carried the village’s story forward a decade.

Parker says the impending third edition will record the changes seen since 1987 but also go back further in time for a greater historical overhaul on some subjects.

“For instance, the Justus family, they’ve been asked to contribute something, and I suspect they will write it right from the beginning,” she says of the Chesterville clan well known in the medical community for Dr. Howard Justus and his son, Dr. Duane Justus. Another sub-committee of eight, including former principal Bob Gilory, has been overhauling the story of Chesterville Public School.

“And we’re asking for pictures … and some that are coming in are really interesting,” says Parker.

The idea of rereleasing the book came up at the Society’s February annual general meeting — with Parker, Corrie McRae, Pauline van Kessel, Marijke deJong, Carol Goddard, Ashley Harper and Shelagh Derks placed on the committee overseeing the project.

The committee has reached out to many local people and businesses with hand-delivered letters, seeking stories of about one page in length.

Parker marvels at the sheer number of businesses in and around Chesterville that didn’t exist prior to the last edition. But this also has organizers worried about inadvertently leaving out someone from the final product.

“We want to call out … because we’re afraid we might have missed some people. This is our only chance. We’re hoping that people will see it and come forward,” observes McRae.

Parker also says they’re looking to refresh the list of Chesterville-area farmers in the new book, which will likely come out in softcover, like the previous 1987 edition. The hardbound 1970s first edition is a prized possession in the village and quite scarce; Parker describes those originals as “worth their weight in gold.”

Project organizers would like to have stories and material turned in to them by a suggested deadline of June 30th. Parker suggests the new book could still be released this calendar year, though it may take longer. “We’re not making any promises,” she adds, noting the timing of the release will also depend on the amount of information received.

Organizers also aim to update the history on the buildings in the village — one of the features of the original book. Sports and personalities are also being contemplated as potential new subjects.

A volunteer effort, they hope to fund the printing of the upcoming release through sale of the books to the public, with potential bridge financing from the Society in the interim, according to Parker. The Society is also accepting donations to help pay for the effort.

To ensure the story of your Chesterville business is included in The Time That Was, or to make a donation, inquire at chestervillehistoricalsociety@gmail.com or call 613-448-9130.

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