Heritage in South Dundas was a hot-button issue during the 2018 municipal election. Contentious issues surrounding the Forward House and Carman House dominated the past council’s agenda for most of the year. With the dust settled, work has begun to put words into action with the present council.
The Historical Society of South Dundas presented to municipal council last week information about the group, and its planned first project: the stabilization and eventual restoration of the Forward House.
A few items stand out from the historical society’s presentation. One was a sensible and reasonable request for access to the building in order to assess its condition and needs. Members of the group want to look at, document, and even bring in independent people with a background in dealing with historic buildings. A second opinion, disconnected from any of the emotional ties is always valuable.
The group also stated it was actively pursuing what grants and funding are available for this type of project. There was no financial request to be made of the municipality. The group was not seeking funds. It may in the future, but the historical society members understand there is money available outside of South Dundas to assist in this project.
The most important item from the presentation was the group’s vision for the project. The group hopes to pay tribute to the old village of Iroquois, the Seaway project, and the effects of the Seaway project across South Dundas. This vision is important as it commemorates the shared history of South Dundas. It takes in the nearly complete relocation of Iroquois, the destruction of Morrisburg’s downtown and waterfront, and the impact of the flooding all along the St. Lawrence shoreline. The historical society’s project may be physically located in Iroquois, but it definitely is not just about one village or area.
The response from around the council table was very welcome to the presenters. All five members, who had during the election said they supported looking at Forward House during the October campaign, again stated their support. The request for access was easily approved.
This is a positive step forward for preserving and promoting the heritage of South Dundas. It is a hopeful indication of the forward progress still to come.