St. Clair Township Crest
1155 Emily Street
Mooretown ON
N0N 1M0

Phone: (519) 867-2021

Office Hours
Monday to Friday 8:30 am - 4:30 pm

Heritage Corner (August, 2021)

Heritage Corner (August, 2021)

Pirates, scoundrels and war on the St. Clair River?
Bonnie Stevenson
When we look out at the St. Clair River any time of year, we may see grand freighters carrying vital goods and resources that keep our economy humming. We may see pleasure yachts, kayaks, tall ships, or Coast Guard vessels plowing through the ice, fishermen patiently waiting for “the big one”, and all manner of modern wa- ter craft in motion.
But in the 1800s, the view would have been vastly different and, perhaps, a lot less pleasant.
Historian John C. Carter’s book, Piratical Doings on the River St. Clair, conjures a much different picture of what we could expect to see, for those were the days when pirates and scoundrels plied the waters, and unrest across the border spilled over onto our shores.
Dr. Carter says he became fascinated with early life on the St. Clair River in 2012, when he was a guest speaker at the Sombra Museum’s lec- ture series. His subject was the Rebellion of 1838, also known as the American Patriot War, the Upper Canadian Re-

forts didn’t always bear fruit. “He felt the subject was under researched and poorly documented,” said HSC President Dave Pattenden. “He feared it would soon be forgotten in dusty old filing cabinets.” When he contact- ed a historical group in Michigan, they had nothing to contribute. “They tried to be helpful, but they knew nothing,” he said. “Much has been
But taking a page from the Indiana Jones play book, John remained determined to continue his inquiries. Pi- ratical Doings on the River St. Clair is the result of his deep dive into historical archives, as well as conversa- tions he had with those who are acquainted with rebel- lion lore. After all of the information had been assem- bled, John knew it couldn’t just be recorded with entries in a notebook; he had enough material, including some photos and illustrations, to write a book.
When the book was complete, Heritage St. Clair (HSC) was tasked with editing and distributing it, and the book’s cover art is done by HSC member Paul Smith. Up- on completion of the project, John was as good as his word; he generously donated the book to Heritage St. Clair. “HSC is grateful to Dr. Carter for trusting the valu- able result of his work to us,” said Dave Pattenden. “Much has been written about this conflict, with the ex- ception of the raids across our St. Clair River.”
Since the publication of “Piratical Doings”, John says he has discovered two more incursions in the St. Clair region, including one on Walpole Island, and he contin- ues to search for information. “I probably have another whole book of stuff I’ve found since the book was pub- lished,” he said.
A book signing by author Dr. John Carter will be held at the Sombra Museum when the COVID-19 pandemic precautionary protocols have been lifted, but books can

Dr. John C. Carter

bellion, and the Farmer’s Re- bellion.

be purchased ahead of time. A limited run of 120

“My talk was about the rebellion in a larger context, but I knew there were some events here (along the riv- er), but when I asked folks at the meeting, no one knew anything about it,” he said. As word spread about John’s presentation, it became clear some of the people were anxious to find out. His inquiries soon caught the atten- tion of an avid local historian and member of the Sombra Museum, the late Al Anderson, and an immediate friend- ship ensued.
“I told Allan ‘I’m going to research more and whatev- er I get, I’m going to write it up and the historical com- mittee can have it,” said John. The seeds of John’s fu- ture book had been sown.
John’s academic background in Museum Studies and History, and his subsequent interest in the Rebellion of 1938, began in 1977 when he was appointed curator of the John R. Park Homestead in Colchester, Ontario. (The homestead had been a station on the Underground Rail- way prior to the U.S. Civil War.) The historical infor- mation he uncovered during that time piqued his curiosi- ty as to what was going on along the St. Clair River dur- ing that turbulent era. “I had no idea that Pelee Island and Boblo Island had been captured,” he said. “I found 14 incursions from the United States between December, 1837 and December, 1838.”
The lack of record-keeping during the 1800s made fact-finding difficult during John’s research and his ef-

books will sell for $45 per copy, tax included. To ar- range for delivery by mail or a local pick up, these can be done on an individ- ual basis.
Details for all orders, delivery methods, and payment instructions can be arranged by contacting Heritage St. Clair by email at: secretaryherit- .
*Heritage St. Clair (HSC) is a dedicated committee of serious local historians and history lovers commit-
ted to preserving the heritage of St. Clair Township. The committee reports to the township and its hard work can be seen in the many colourful, informative interpre- tive signs, plaques, and installations that have been erected throughout the township to raise public aware- ness of the community’s past. New members are always welcome and the only qualification you need is a desire to help preserve the history of your community.
See More Heritge Corner, page 13

Beacon Bits

“People who make history, know nothing about history. You can see that in the sort of history they make.”
~G.K. Chesterton

Time to get reacquainted with the Moore and Sombra Museums
From page 12
The much-anticipated reopening of the Moore and Sombra Museums is at hand. Volunteers from both museums have been working hard to prepare the displays and individual exhibits for public viewing, as well as doing the behind -the-scenes work required to operate each facility.
At the Moore Museum, much of the work is related to the management and conservation of the artifact collection, such as cataloguing and inputting of pre – computerized artifact records into the database.
Work is also being done on the reserve collection storage areas.
Some new displays have also been created for our visitors to enjoy.
They include Great Lakes lighthouse art by

local artist Phil Miller, a camera and photog- raphy equipment display, and a stunning Vas- eline glass display featuring beautiful arti- facts such as the elegant green koi, left.
There will be COVID-19 safety protocols in place, so please visit for more information ahead of time.
Curator, Laurie Mason

Heritage furniture in reserve

See Sombra Museum, page 14

Cameras without phones?

Easing of COVID restrictions allows museums, gallery, and archives to reopen

The Moore and Sombra Museums aren’t the only ones in the county preparing for visitors. The move to Ontar- io’s Step 3 COVID restrictions will allow visitors back into Lambton’s museums, gallery, and archives in person.
Lambton County Library locations currently offering contactless curbside pickup will open for in-person visits by scheduled appointments for public computer use, Wi- Fi use and academic research. In addition, these 16 loca- tions will re-open for in-person browsing with no require- ment for a scheduled appointment; however patrons are asked to limit their visits to once daily, for no longer than 45 minutes. Capacity limits to meet provincial legis- lation will be posted at entrances and other restrictions will remain in place, including a requirement to wear a face mask.
To book an appointment for public computer use, wi- fi use and academic research, cardholders can call the location they wish to visit, book online at or call the central book- ing line at 519-337-3291 ext. 5900, toll free at 1-866-324
-6912 ext. 5900.

All appointments will start on the hour and be limited to 45 minutes. This will provide adequate time to clean the space before the next appointment begins. Card- holders will also be limited to one appointment per day. Upon booking an appointment, all visitors are asked to self-monitor symptoms before entering any cultural fa- cility, and must visit at another time if feeling unwell.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
St. Clair Township locations and public hours of operation for curbside, in-person browsing, public computer, and WIFI use, and in-person reference
services by scheduled appointment are: Brigden: 4-7 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 11 a.m.
to 2 p.m. on Friday.
Corunna: 11 a.m.– 2p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Fri- day, Saturday; 3-6 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday.
Sombra: 3-6 p.m. on Tuesday; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.
For more information on locations, services and hours of operation visit
More Heritage Corner, page 14

Lambton County Library passes for Ontario parks still available

The Lambton County Library still has seasonal day-use permits valid library cardholders can borrow to take in the natural beauty of provincial parks like Pinery Provin- cial Park near Grand Bend. The permit will allow unlim- ited daily entry for one vehicle plus all of its passengers. The permit will come with a $5 day-use coupon for fu- ture regular day-use, as well as a park guide.
Ontario parks passes and other library materials can be reserved for contactless curbside pickup using the online catalogue at or the Iguana Library mobile app, or by calling a participating curbside loca- tion during hours of operation.
If you haven’t got a library card, call 519-845-3324,

ext. 5266 or 1-866-324-6912, ext. 5266, or email: li- brarytechhelp@county- . For more in- formation on locations, ser- vices, and hours of operation, go online to: .

Above: The Ontario Parks pass, park guide and $5 coupon.

Sombra Museum polishing up for much-anticipated reopening
From page 13

Sombra Museum volunteers and staff are happy to be able to welcome visitors back into the museum in per- son. Visitors will be able to drop in any time during open hours, but if demand increases, an appointment booking system will be ready to handle the demand. Everyone will be required to wear COVOD safety masks
and comply with 2m physical distancing and hand hygiene.

Here are samples of the new displays and exhibits you can expect to see when you visit the Sombra Museum.
Top left: Tourism Assistant Julie Grant puts together two sections of a 1927 sectional canoe. It’s new to the muse- um collection and will be the centre- piece of a new display.
Top right: Curatorial Assistant Mara Garva holds a large fossil of trilobite burrows, part of a recent donation of mid-Devonian period fossils that are over 360 million years old. They were found in the Arkona area.
Left: This collection comes to us from Bob O’Donnell and the Arkona Lions Museum. We appreciate this important new addition to the museum, and are very excited to have this opportunity to expand our collection into new are- as.
Kailyn Shepley Sombra Museum Curator

Sombra Museum continues to seek information/photos of COVID era
From page 14

The Sombra Museum continues to collect pandemic stories, photos, videos, art work, etc. (family friendly) from St. Clair Township residents to help record and preserve memories of the COVID experience for fu- ture generations.; day-to-day memories of life in Sombra, Wilkesport, Port Lambton, Mooretown, Lambton County, Canada, and elsewhere in the world.
Recollections and examples of how social media and technology has impacted life in social isolation (people using technology for the first time or using it differently; experiences when staying in touch with friends and loved ones via Zoom or working from home).
The vaccination process is now part of the story. Pho- tos of the smiles upon receiving the second shot, recorded feelings of hope that we may finally be seeing the end of

the pandemic in sight or your first meeting with family and friends when masks and social distancing are no long- er required.
The pandemic of 2020/2021 has affected the entire world; an epic chapter is being written in the book of hu- man history and this project will allow us to make our own entry in that book.
Submissions can be sent by email to: with the subject line “COVID-19 History Snapshot”.
Please share this request for community life memories with as many people as possible. We encourage everyone to document this time, if not to share publicly, then for yourself and your family to look back and reflect on in years to come.

Moore Museum seeks information about history of old Moore Township schools

Moore Museum is still accepting information for a virtual exhibit for the museum’s website. It will feature brief histories and photos of the schools in the former Moore Township prior to centralization in 1963. There were 19 school sections in Moore, four of which were union schools – two shared with Sombra Township and two with Sarnia Township. To see the map that indicates where the schools were located, see the March or April 2021 Beacon. It can be accessed, along with further information, by going online the St. Clair Township website home page. Click on The Beacon, top right of the page. ~Laurie Mason, curator, Moore Museum