- Archives News

July 25, 2022

Wonderful news! The congregation of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church has generously donated their church building and land to Archives Hemmingford. They previously donated the hall where the Archives are now housed. There are plans underway to hold concerts, exhibits and other cultural events within the former church.

Merveilleuse nouvelle! La congrégation de l'église presbytérienne St. Andrew's a généreusement fait don de son église et de son terrain aux Archives Hemmingford. Ils ont fait don de l'ancienne salle où se trouvent maintenant les Archives. Des projets sont en cours pour organiser des concerts, des expositions et d'autres événements culturels dans l'ancienne église.



Banners for Hemmingford 1812 - 2012

Summer 2012....

18 impressive banners were created to decorate the village of Hemmingford this summer.

They may be viewed here.


Important new acquisition

Hemmingford Historical Archives has recently acquired seven newly available lettters written by a young Irish widow named Frances (Armstrong) Simpson, stranded in Canada (Hemmingford) in 1831 with her two young children. Her husband was sea captain William Simpson. The letters were addressed to her father-in-law Captain David Simpson in North Shields, Northumberland UK.

The letters may be viewed online here.

Many thanks to Peter Donn in England for providing and transcribing these letters.

posted March 7, 2012


Advancing Heritage Conservation in the Richelieu-Missisquoi region

Exhibits and Workshops

Five museums/historical societies will be part of a traveling exhibition to highlight the efforts in the Richelieu-Missisquoi region to conserve local heritage. Participating are the Hemmingford Historical Archives, the Missisquoi Museum/Walbridge Barn, the Fort Saint-Jean Museum, the Vallée du Richelieu historical society and the Lacolle-Beaujeu historical society/Blockhaus de la rivière Lacolle. This initiative is sponsored by the Quebec Labrador Foundation which is dedicated to heritage preservation in rural regions.

The exhibit will feature panels with bilingual text and photographs from each group and this material will prepared by a graphic designer and professionally printed. With the panels will be showcases with additional artifacts and items of interest with explanatory notes for public viewing.

The exhibition will be ready in January, and after the exhibition has travelled in different locations, each participating museum/historical society will receive their panels as additions to their display collections.

A series of four workshops about heritage conservation are also upcoming. To launch the workshop sessions Gary Schroder, president of the Quebec Family History Society, will host a workshop called ``The Fundamentals of Genealogical Research.`` The Quebec Family History Society is a non-profit charitable organization promoting the study and educational value of family history. It is the largest English language genealogical society in Quebec.

The Genealogical Workshop is next week, Wednesday November 30, 2011, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, at the Hemmingford Elementary School in classroom 113 (548, Champlain Avenue (Road 202) in Hemmingford). The workshop is free of charge. The classroom can accommodate 30 people. We ask people to book their places in advance.

A second workshop focused on archives conservation is in planning by Gillies Pellerin of the Société d’Histoire de Lacolle-Beaujou, and by Éric Reul of the Musée du Fort Saint-Jean. They will speak about the conservation of items such as books, letters, documents, geographical maps, and photos. This workshop will be held in Lacolle in January, date TBA.

The remaining two workshops, details to be announced, will center on how to write articles on historical topics, and heritage building preservation.

posted Nov 26, 2011


Advancing Heritage Conservation

in the Richelieu-Missisquoi Region

by Mary Ducharme

The Quebec-Labrador Foundation has received a grant for a project submitted to Canadian Heritage titled ``Advancing Heritage Conservation in the Richelieu-Missisquoi region.`` The goal is to foster the visibility and development of museums and historical societies in the Richelieu-Missisquoi area and to develop a sense of concern for heritage conservation among the local population.

The project includes three components. First, a travelling exhibition will be designed and produced that will give a glimpse of each heritage centre's collection and area of expertise. This exhibition will travel in different municipalities in the Richelieu-Missisquoi area.

The second component is a series of four workshops at which people working in museums and historical societies will explain to local residents how to do heritage work such as genealogy, artefacts preservation, writing history articles, etc.

A three day cultural education event will give representatives of heritage centres an occasion to interact with local residents to share local history through lectures, discussion panels, and other activities..

These projects continue the momentum produced in the fall of 2010, when local historical societies and museums met with QLF and Lakes to Locks Passage. These workshops fostered networking among the organizations and opened discussion about how to sustain and promote heritage centres.

A meeting to begin working on the travelling exhibition project is scheduled for November 7 at 1:00 pm on the Campus du Fort Saint-Jean (15, rue Jacques-Cartier Nord, in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu), on the second floor of the Massey Building.

At this time several organizations have confirmed attendance at the meeting, with more expected to register. Confirmed are: Heather Darch (Missisquoi Museum), Gilles Pellerin (Lacolle-Beaujeu historical society), Éric Ruel (Musée du Fort Saint-Jean), François Lafrenière (Société d'histoire de la Vallée du Richelieu), Dwane Wilkin (Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network) and Mary Ducharme (Hemmingford Historical Archives).

The discussion will center on the text for the two exhibition panels made available for each participating historical society. The panels are designed to give a glimpse of each collection, as well as the heritage conservation work and historical topics associated with each heritage group. The goal is to catch the interest of the public, so they would like to know more and to visit the heritage centers. One or two artefacts will be showcased in a display along with the panels.

To learn more please contact:

François Guillet

QLF Canada

505 blvd René-Levesque Ouest, Suite 901

Montréal, Québec

H2Z 1Y7 Canada

Tel: 514.395.6020

Fax: 514.395.4505


posted Nov 05, 2011


Help us preserve

Hemmingford’s History

All donations large or small


An archives is all about storage and retrieval of information so that it can be preserved it for future generations. As time goes on, old technology and worn out equipment becomes an increasing disadvantage. In the modern setting of digitized data processing, either we keep up with technology as it changes, or we get left behind.

Without a viable community archives that knows how to preserve its collections, local history is reduced to crumbling documents in basements and attics. Instead of preservation and growth of knowledge about the community’s history, there is steady loss as seniors pass on. Their personal “library” of knowledge and irreplaceable documents are gone forever.

The Hemmingford Archives, completely run by volunteers, is making a concerted effort to modernize its technology so that we can better preserve our collections, and also respond to information requests. We are digitizing data with a special cataloguing program, and want to bring a bright, welcoming, modern look to our Archives space. You can help us do this.

Your generosity in making a donation helps the archives in many ways:






We are a registered non-profit organization and at your request will be happy

to issue charitable receipts for tax purposes



September 15, 2011


September 2, 2011

A Voice for the Eight Percent

by Mary Anne Ducharme

Hemmingford Historical Archives

English language is at home in Hemmingford. The historical record in our Archives reflects the early history of this community which was largely settled by Scots, Irish, English, United Empire Loyalists, and Americans. The second wave of immigration was French, arriving in the mid-nineteeth century, and these families also played an important role in the development of the community. Many from all of these backgrounds intermarried, forming an identity uniquely Hemmingford.

As the primary work language in the Township, 775 speak French, and 690 speak English, with many in that number who are more or less conversant in both languages. In the Village, the numbers are nearly even between the two languages, 345 English, and 335 French. In terms of percentages this is far beyond the provincial average of about 8% of English-speaking Quebecers. In fact, English as a minority language is becoming endangered in Quebec because of out-migration.

There are obvious economic and social advantages for Quebec to having vital English-speaking communities, especially near the border where most visitors entering the province do not speak French. Tourism provides a significant customer base for our services and products. We can be a travel waypoint, providing an introduction to the experience of our region, and beyond. In a bilingual atmosphere, more potential residents would be comfortable settling here and contributing to our economic and social vitality.

In Hemmingford’s history, and in all Quebec, the relationships of the French and English communities have not always been smooth, but in our case, we have come to a level of comfort in our daily lives either in French or English and there is a friendly willingness to bridge the gaps in communication for those who are unilingual. When we truly need to speak to each other, we usually find the way, or we do our very best in the attempt.

Because provincial civil service and government agencies enact deliberate policies to discourage the use of English, the language is endangered in the communities of this region. By what ethnical code should English here be silent or covert or subject to discriminatory practices? It should be present in our Municipal affairs, on official websites, on our signs, and in our businesses. What exactly is the wording of any law that clearly forbids the use of English? The politics of language has not been the best chapter in Quebec history, and we can do better than form policies of exclusion on the community level.

For Anglophones, speaking our own language, one of the two official languages of Canada, should not be regarded as somehow disrespectful of our French neighbours, nor should we be made to feel that somehow we are the off-key note in the chorus of this province.

The Archives wishes to encourage history writers and researchers in French to join the history writers and researchers in English! Each in our own language, we tell a fuller and more inclusive story of this community. As to shared knowledge, what we truly want to know, we find the way of learning! If there are differences in interpretation of this history and in cultural perspective, that is all the more enriching, and deeply Canadian.

Let the diversity be there. Let history be what it was. Let now be a new beginning.



by Mary Anne Ducharme

An old flag, a hand-made regimental colour, was bestowed upon the Canadian Historical Society in 2003, with large sections missing or in shreds. Realizing its fragile state, the Society gave the flag to the Canadian War Museum (CWM) in Ottawa in the hope of restoration. Its significance was not lost to Eric Fernberg, the collection manager of dress and insignia at the CWM: it represents an early nineteenth century militia unit connected with the Lower Canada Rebellion (1837-1838) and is one of the first flags to bear the monogram of Queen Victoria, who was then 18 and officially crowned in 1838.

The flag’s design and stitchwork was intricately embroidered by a Mrs. Gilchrist from Montreal, including the monogram on a royal blue field. The design included the Queen’s Colours in the upper left hand corner and the words “Presented by the ladies to the Hemmingford Loyal Volunteers Com.d by Lieu. Col. Scriver.” Scriver had been given the commission of Lieutenant-Colonel by the recommendation of Sir John Colborne, Commander of British forces in Canada, who personally thanked him for his role in the assisting the Regular forces. Scriver was also presented with a sword and scabbard by the Hemmingford Loyal Volunteers as a token of respect and esteem.

John Peter Scriver (1792-1873) was one man among the thousands from Canada invading Plattsburgh in 1814 and he also was one of the sharpshooters at Île-aux-Noix when the American sloops Growler and Eagle were captured. The son of Loyalists from Rhinebeck, New York, he was known by the sobriquet of “Colonel” and was a key force in developing the community of Hemmingford just north of the border. A man of great energy and leadership ability, he touched almost every aspect of early development in the Hemmingford area.

As a Major in the Hemmingford Loyal Volunteers, Scriver was also involved in what would be known as the Lower Canada Rebellion in its final confrontations. This conflict between Loyalists and Patriotes threatened British control of Canada, partly the result of an economic panic that gripped American, British and Canadian banking. Even more important was cultural conflict between French Canadians and the British-dominated government, as well as lack of response to the urgent need for land reforms. Rebel rhetoric echoed the spirit of self-determination that then remained in living memory from the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

Not surprisingly, Americans along the border played an illegal but significant role in the Rebellions in both Upper and Lower Canada in the form of support of the Patriote insurgents. Despite Martin Van Buren’s Neutrality Law of 1838, secret societies provided arms, vehicles and supplies which flowed across the border along with armed men.

The restoration of the 1838 flag at the Canadian Museum of Civilization was questionable despite its recognized value. It had been technically risky or prohibitively expensive to restore textiles such as the silky fabric of the Hemmingford Colours.

Enter the Friends of the Canadian War Museum, who were looking at the time for a significant project to fund. The Friends provided the funding and the War Museum then approached conservators Julie Hughes and Megan Gruchy at its partner museum, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, to undertake the actual restoration of the Regimental Colour and a second flag, the Queen’s Colour, known by some as "The Union Jack". The Jack was used by the Hemmingford Loyal Volunteers during the Lower Canada Rebellion.

Hughes and Gruchy came up with an innovative technique that has received not only Canadian attention, but international notice as well. The printing of the digital image of the flag with UV-cured ink on silk crêpeline produced extremely impressive results, an innovation the conservators are now applying to the next project, a Union Jack also related to the Hemmingford Loyal Volunteers. The restoration required a number of steps, as described by Julie Hughes:

“First, the shredded original flag was removed from the netting support on which it had been sewn for stabilization in the past. Next, the creases in the flag were relaxed using conservation humidification techniques. Then new silk fabric was dyed to match the various areas of the flag. This dyed fabric was stitched onto the display mount (a rigid mount, padded and covered also with white silk), according to the original dimensions of the flag. The original flag was then placed on top of the dyed backing fabrics on the mount, so that it looked like a ‘whole’ flag again, and a digital photo was taken. This digital image was taken to a professional printing company, and printed on transparent silk crêpeline, a material similar to chiffon fabric. The crêpeline with the printed image of the flag was placed over the flag on its display mount. The crêpeline overlay was then stitched down meticulously along the seams and around the fragments of the flag. Finally, a Plexiglas cover was fitted which lightly pressed down on the finished flag, further keeping everything in place. The crêpeline overlay thus served both to stabilize the fragmented original flag, and to act as a barrier between the flag and the Plexiglas cover.”

For more information contact: Mary Ducharme, president, Hemmingford Historical Archives, at 450-247-3193, or mducharme117@sympatico.ca.


Webmaster's note: These are some links that refer to the above flag and the Lower Canada Rebellion:

The 1838 flag - photos and more details on this story.

Robert Sellar’s account of the 1838 Odelltown battles - from Sellar's History.

A gravestone of a fallen Loyalist Volunteer -

I found this inscription after photographing the Douglass Cemetery, near Napierville. The inscription was enhanced for legibility.

Includes other links to the history of the Lower Canada Rebellion.

Lower Canada Rebellion - Wikipedia

La Rébellion des Patriotes - Wikipedia (français)