The Beaurepaire-Beaconsfield Historical Society dates back to 1976 when a group of citizens interested in local history, and aware of the upcoming 300th anniversary of Beaurepaire in 1978, got together on July 12th, 1976 to discuss the establishment of a historical society. This group included Steve Manson, Evelyn McOuat, Bob Gandey, Mr. & Mrs. Holm, Elspeth Symes, Kay Betts, Marguerite Beaudet, Lillian Henderson, and Beaconsfield Library staff Brenda Whitlock, Teri Shaw and Janet Singer. The main objective at this time was to research and publicize the history of Beaconsfield. Three weeks later a second meeting resulted in a motion by Lillian Henderson, seconded by Roy Wilson, that the group be called the Beaurepaire-Beaconsfield Historical Society.
In 1978, with a grant of $3,000 from the municipality, it became possible to hire Miss Sally Weary to start the research. Robert Baird, then Treasurer, who had done considerable reading about our past, took on the task of project supervision.
As part of the celebrations of the 300th anniversary of Beaurepaire in 1978 several activities were sponsored by the society. After the summer, Robert J.Gandey who had become Treasurer attended a meeting of the Beaconsfield and District Historical Society while touring in England and established our society as a member of their society.
Seven presentations from a variety of speakers were made before the last official meeting of the society on February 13, 1979.
Mrs. Gisèle Hall and Mrs. Yvonne Cousineau-Lalonde continued researching in more detail the history of the area with a view of publishing a book on the subject.
April 6, 1982 marked the resumption of official meetings of the society. Under the guidance of President Gisèle Hall and Vice-President Yvonne Cousineau-Lalonde, and Robert Baird, a charter under the name “Société d’histoire de Beaurepaire-Beaconsfield” was registered on April 26, 1982 thereby enabling the society to apply for publishing grants.
Securing funding was a constant chore as it was a time before E-mail and our mailing fees with over 105 members amounted to approximately $300 per annum.
The society mounted its first exhibition with many more to follow. Monthly speakers were invited to touch upon a variety of subjects. Guided tours, conferences for primary and secondary schools as well as for other groups were some of the achievements of the society.
Society membership again broke the 100 mark in March 1984. Membership was three dollars for Beaconsfield residents and five dollars for non-residents. Each month, an ad was placed in "What's happening" in the News & Chronicle and in the "community calendar" of the West Island Section of the Gazette to announce the meetings of the Beaconsfield Historical Society. Several articles about the society or announcements of its monthly speakers were also submitted but not always published by these papers. Thus a Telephone Calling committee consisting of the chairman and 8 callers was a vital link. Each caller was assigned approximately 14 members to call the entire membership prior to each meeting and other sundry matters.
In the fall of 1985, “A Tour of Beaurepaire-Beaconsfield” booklets were printed and 250 English and 250 French copies were put on sale at Yvon's and Mel Carter's in Beaurepaire. The English booklets had sold out before the end of 1986.
1989 saw the publication of a book on the history of Beaurepaire-Beaconsfield, authored by Robert Baird and researched by Gisele Hall and contributions by many other people, “Beaconsfield and Beaurepaire, A chronicle of the development of the City of Beaconsfield and the district of Beaurepaire”, describing the history of the area and documenting the unique summer houses along Lakeshore Road.
Two years later, the house at 390 Lakeshore Road was to be demolished and Bob Gandey with the support of the society attended the March 11th, 1991 City Counsel meeting and presented its historical significance trying to save it but the house was demolished.
By 1996, however, after 16 years of organizing monthly lectures, lack of active support for the society led to a dormant state. The French translation and a revised reprint of the English version of the book “Beaconsfield and Beaurepaire” was one of the last activities completed. Finally, a letter was sent to Librarian Linda Burdayron in 1998 and the assets of the society including an extensive collection of research documents used in the publication of the book was turned over to the Beaconsfield Municipal Library, with a bank balance of over $6800.
In July 2003, at the suggestion of Michele Janis, Beaconsfield’s cultural officer, a meeting was held at Manoir Beaurepaire, Beaconsfield’s oldest house, to discuss the possibility of reviving the society. Barbara Barclay took on the challenge as the new president and began the revival process. The first meeting was held on July 26, 2003 with minutes taken by Michael Gray, Secretary of the society. The society’s books previously stored at Centennial Hall were transferred back to the society. A donation of valuable books by Ms. Yvonne Cousineau expanded the society’s reference library collection.
In 2004, the borough of Beaconsfield-Baie d'Urfé approached the society to do an inventory of the heritage buildings of Baie d'Urfé similar to the one made for Beaconsfield by Beaupré et Michaud in 2001. Thanks to the hard work of Mrs. Gisèle Hall and Ms. Yvonne Cousineau, the society received $5000 that resulted in a positive balance sheet. There was general agreement, given the extent of the new borough and the borough's preparedness to support the society in terms of availability of space, stationery and photocopying, that the scope of the society include Baie d'Urfé in its interests and nomenclature.
In 2005 a donation to the Société Découverte et Sauvegarde du Patrimoine de l’Ouest de l’Ile regarding the creation of a map for a heritage bicycle trail was made and their work supported in subsequent years.
With the re-creation of the new cities effective on January 1st, 2006 and the Beaconsfield-Baie d’Urfé borough de-merger, the scope of the society reverted to the City of Beaconsfield. During the merged time period, the society benefited from the active archaeological research at Caron Point in Baie d'Urfé.
A reform in the Law of business code of Québec had occurred in 1994 requiring our previous charter to be updated. On February 28, 2006, with an updated charter, our name was changed to “Société historique Beaurepaire-Beaconsfield”. With great help from Maître Gisèle Aubin the 1985 by-laws were also reviewed, revised and expanded.
The Société historique Beaurepaire-Beaconsfield became a member of the Fédération des sociétés d’histoire du Québec (FSHQ). Steven High, Canada Research Chair in Public History at Concordia University, offered training in oral history techniques and filming of interviews; the oral history project started.
On March 15, 2006, the society moved that the Demolition Committee of the City of Beaconsfield give due considerations to the request for demolition of the heritage house located at 464 Lakeshore Road, by not permitting the demolition of this heritage house and that this house be retained as part of our historical background until such a time as a firm policy is established for the retention of our Heritage at Thompson Point. Denis Chabot, Beaconsfield Urban Planning Director, suggested a project to cite 5 houses but following meetings with heritage home owners this approach was shelved.
The same year, Janos Varga was commissioned to create a series of artwork based on historical houses of Beaconsfield.
In 2007, a new guided tour booklet was published under the title “À la découverte de Beaurepaire-Beaconsfield / Discover Beaurepaire-Beaconsfield” including pictures of heritage buildings.
2008 marked the first year that the Roberta-Angell prize was awarded. It was made possible by a bequest from Mrs. Roberta Angell and has become an annual event to get the community to appreciate local history.
2009 saw the expansion of involvement with other organizations such as the Fédération des sociétés d’histoire du Québec (FSHQ) and the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network (QAHN). Valuable books were purchased to add to an ever-growing collection of historical reference material. That year the Board of Directors members all agreed on the creation of a web site.
2010 was a busy year in supporting many ongoing and special projects for the 100th year of Beaconsfield. The year was capped off on November 13, 2010 with a get-together for descendants of founding families of Beaconsfield. Each invited person was introduced by a short history of his or her family. A Power Point presentation prepared by Olivia Kona for the Centennial of Beaconsfield, “Beaconsfield Our Story”, was projected on the screen for everyone to enjoy memories of Beaconsfield’s past. A small gift package was given to each guest: our Beaurepaire-Beaconsfield tour guide, a Beaconsfield Centennial Pin, a Centennial magnetic bookmark and, for those who had participated in our Oral History Project, an audio copy of their interview.
In 2011, the society donated $10,000 towards research on the farms of Beaconsfield, which were part of Pointe-Claire before 1910, for a book to be published for the celebration of the 300 years of the Parish of Pointe-Claire in 2013.
Another multi-dimensional challenge that absorbed a considerable amount of our time and energy was an attempt to save the Trend House, which was located at 2 Woodland Avenue. Despite interventions from as far away as France and England, and presentations by eminent architectural conservationists such as Dinu Bumbaru, Michael Fish, and Professor France Vanlaethem of UQAM and DOCOMOMO, the city of Beaconsfield did not see fit to protect this key 20th century architectural trend-setter and on Tuesday, May 31st, 2011 Quebec’s sole Trend House was demolished.
A positive development for the society was the donation by David Eaton and Toni Nazair of their Canadian historical book collection consisting of more than seven hundred splendid volumes, which we hope will be used by individuals doing research into varying aspects of our past. We were also presented with a number of books in this area of interest by the director(s) of the NOVA stores, Elizabeth and Quentin Parker. The society’s reference library collection had grown to over 975 items!
The 2011 lecture series theme was the Scots in Beaconsfield.
And by the end of the year this web site went online!
In 2012, our new lecture series theme was the First Nations in an attempt to broaden our understanding of this under publicized area of our cultural background.
Jacqueline Lamoureux, one of our directors, broke ground in the social media rage by connecting with the Beaurepaire Friends from Long Ago on Facebook. On the first weekend of June, a physical reunion and get-together connection was made at the Black Lion Pub in Beaurepaire Village, which was a huge success and many new contacts, members and photos emerged.
The 2013 lecture series invited you to discover different aspects of life in the early years of Europeans in North America with our theme Nouvelle-France.
With the approaching centenary of World War I, it was decided that this anniversary should be marked in Beaconsfield by the establishment of a special park where people can go to reflect upon the supreme sacrifice some of our ancestors made to help keep the world free from war. Terrence Montague, M.D., and Major Richard Gratton, two gentlemen from the Heroes Committee, approached the historical society to request our support and suggested our participation to the city of Beaconsfield. A place is nearly chosen to be the site of the commemorative monument. Kristopher Parent, landscape designer, volunteered to create the design.
Another demolition permit request, this time for 137-141 Elm, which used to be part of the Allancroft Dairy Farm, spurred the society to add a “Places” section to our website to help residents understand the resultant loss of our history.
The summer of 2013 marked the 10th anniversary of the revival of the society and Barbara Barclay’s 10 years of service as its President. Gisèle Hall also marked 35 years of involvement and contribution to most of the society’s activities.
The 2014 lecture series was on the subject of the United Empire Loyalists, however, there was one exception, Gerald Leduc’s lecture on monuments left behind by the Irish Celts as a precursor to a tour to Coteau du Lac National Historic Site on August 9, 2014.
2014 saw the dissolution of the SPOI (Société patrimoine de l'Ouest de l'île) organization and transfer of property to SHBB.
May 2014 exhibition was of Antique tools.
As the year was the anniversary of 1914-1918 First World War there was a second exhibit of WWI Western Front photographs and original artifacts in November 2014.
A $1,000 contribution was made to the Heroes’ Committee and a brick was sponsored along the path to the cenotaph. The official opening ceremony of the Heroes' Park took place on Wednesday, October 15, 2014, with special guest His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada and Private William Ross of the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, veteran of the D-Day assault.