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Model Farmer:

Robert Reford and the Origins of Macdonald College in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue

Speaker: Alexander RefordMacfarm 2
When: Thursday 21 Feburary 2019, 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Where: Centennial Hall,
       288 boul. Beaconsfield, Beaconsfield, H9W 4A4

Lecture in English followed by a bilingual question period

The Reford family’s association with the Beaurepaire or Amable-Curot house at Thompson’s Point is known to members of the Société Historique Beaurepaire-Beaconsfield Historical Society. Less well-known is the role of Robert Reford in creating a model farm in nearby Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, the basis of the present-day Macdonald Campus of McGill University.

Robert Reford was no farmer. But he was a prosperous Montreal entrepreneur. He was also the country’s leading exporter of live cattle to the United Kingdom. Beginning in 1891, he began to develop a model farm on the Crévier property he purchased north of Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue. He described the impressive complex of barns and outbuildings he built as “the best in Canada if not in America”. Journalists of the time agreed. The farm was also a showcase for a herd of prize-winning Ayrshire dairy cattle imported from Scotland, assembled by one of the best stockmen in the country. Thinking the property ideally suited to become one of the Dominion’s experimental farms, he convinced tobacco magnate Sir William Macdonald to make the farm a key component of his zealous efforts to promote modern agriculture and rural education.

These few acres help illuminate a time and a period. Sifting through family archives and agricultural records, Alexander Reford has assembled the story of the trials and tribulations of his ancestor’s efforts to create one continent’s leading model farms.

S 15817 1Alexander Reford is the director of Les Jardins de Métis / Reford Gardens. Educated at the University of Toronto and Oxford University he is the author of several books on Quebec history and gardens:

  • Des jardins oubliés 1860-1960,
  • Guidebook to the Reford Gardens,
  • Au rythme du train 1859-1970,
  • Elsie’s Paradise – Reford Gardens,
  • Treasures of Reford Gardens - Elsie Reford’s Floral Legacy,
  • The Metis Lighthouse.

Recently, Mr. Reford produced the exhibition War Flowers / Fleurs d'armes, on display at the Château Ramezay - Historic Site and Museum of Montréal in Old Montréal from October 2018 to March, 2019.  


The Compass, despite the Aspergillum:
Introduction to the History of Freemasonry

Speaker: Jacques G. Ruelland, Ph.D.
When: Thursday, January 17, 2019, 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: Centennial Hall,
           288 Beaconsfield Blvd, Beaconsfield, H9W 4A4

Lecture in English, followed by a bilingual question period

2019 01 17JacquesRuelland CompasquerreN2019 01 17JacquesRuelland GoupillonNThe spirit of the 18th-Century Enlightenment joined the first settlers from Europe to populate New France. Bearing this spirit, Freemasonry, organized as a Grand Lodge in London as soon as 1717 and introduced in France around 1725, settles quickly in North America. But here, it will immediately have to fight for the freedom of thought, facing an intolerant Catholic Church. The speaker will describe this journey and answer the questions that haunt everyone and that nobody dares to ask.

S 15714Jacques G. Ruelland, Ph.D., professor (retired), Department of Philosophy, Collège Édouard-Montpetit; Department of History, Université de Montréal; authored 48 books. In Freemasonry: 33rd Degree; PDDGM (Montreal District 4, GLQ); PGSec (GLQ); currently: GSec AASR of Canada, Valley of Montreal, and Librarian, GLQ.



2019 01 17JacquesRuelland Temple


The Boer War 1899-1902

Speaker: James (Jim) Vanstone, M.A., Ph.D.
When: Thursday, November 15, 2018, 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where:  Centennial Hall,
       288 Beaconsfield Blvd, Beaconsfield, H9W 4A4
Lecture in English, followed by a bilingual question period

2018 11 15JimVanstone BoerWarConcentrationcampIn 1899 the South African Boer War begins between the British Empire and the Boers of the Transvaal and Orange Free State. The Boers, also known as Afrikaners, were the descendants of the original Dutch settlers of southern Africa. Britain took possession of the Dutch Cape colony in 1806 during the Napoleonic wars, sparking resistance from the independence-minded Boers, who resented the Anglicization of South Africa and Britain’s anti-slavery policies. In 1833, the Boers began an exodus into African tribal territory, where they founded the republics of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. The two new republics lived peaceably with their British neighbours until 1867, when the discovery of diamonds and gold in the region made conflict between the Boer states and Britain inevitable. Minor fighting with Britain began for the second time in the 1890s, and in October 1899 full-scale war ensued. By mid-June 1900, British forces had captured most major Boer cities and formally annexed their territories, but the Boers launched a guerrilla war that frustrated the British occupiers. Beginning in 1901, the British began a strategy of systematically searching out and destroying these guerrilla units, while herding the families of the Boer soldiers into concentration camps. By 1902, the British had crushed the Boer resistance, and on May 31 of that year the Peace of Vereeniging was signed, ending hostilities. The treaty recognized the British military administration over Transvaal and the Orange Free State and authorized a general amnesty for Boer forces. In 1910, the autonomous Union of South Africa was established by the British. It included Transvaal, the Orange Free State, the Cape of Good Hope, and Natal as provinces.

S 15225 1James (Jim) Vanstone was born and raised in Windsor, Ontario. While majoring in History and Philosophy at the University of Windsor, Jim was elected President of the history society called the Lord Acton Club. Graduating with an Honours B.A. and the University’s gold medal in history Jim went to Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario majoring in “Imperial”, now more popularly called Third World history. He obtained his M.A. (1967) and Ph.D. (1974) from Queen’s. Doing research for his Ph.D. in Southern Africa (1969-1970) Jim spent a year in Africa. Returning to Queen’s, Jim taught Imperial History for one year before going to John Abbott College in Ste. Anne de Bellevue in 1972 where he taught history for 45 years until he retired in 2017. Jim was elected member of the Academic Council of John Abbott College (1974-2017), Chairperson of the Faculty Professional Development Committee (1975-2017), on the college’s Board of Governors (1979-1985), served on the Academic Programs Coordinating Committee, as well as being involved over the years in the United Church of Canada. Jim is also member of the Board of Governors of the United Theological College of McGill University and is currently the Chair of the Montreal School of Theology of McGill University.


Interethnic Relations in the Great War;

Demystification of the Oppressed French-Canadian Soldier's Myth

Speaker: Céleste LalimeW1 096
When: Thursday, October 18, 2018, 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where:  Centennial Hall,
       288 Beaconsfield Blvd, Beaconsfield, H9W 4A4

Lecture in English, followed by a bilingual question period

S 14820 2 






The First World War inevitably brings back painful memories in the province of Quebec. Quebeckers have a negative recollection of the war, viewing themselves as victims. Events related to the Great War such as the conscription crisis, the Easter riots and the inhospitality expressed by the Canadian Forces towards French Canadians are emotionally-charged memories that have nurtured this conception. Integrated in both the historiography and popular beliefs, the idea of the oppressed French Canadian will be questioned through this lecture. This presentation aims at re-examining this idea by surveying contemporary sources: the Anglophone press and testimonies from soldiers. Its objective is to reassess the attitude and perception of Canadian Anglophones towards French Canadians, and more broadly the nature of interethnic relationships in the army during the First World War.

Céleste Lalime is a historian, speaker and history teacher. She received the highest distinction for her master’s thesis in history at Université de Montréal. She has worked on First World War battlefields at Vimy and Beaumont-Hamel as a guide-interpreter and research agent in history. She participates in the elaboration of a work about the Mont-Royal Fusiliers led by the National Defense, teaches history at College Bourget and collaborates to international and interuniversity conferences and seminars about World War 1.


Sir Wilfrid Laurier: The Man, the Collectables

Speaker: Jean-Pierre Dion, Ph. D.S 14226z 1
When: Thursday, September 20, 2018, 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: Centennial Hall,
         288 Beaconsfield Blvd, Beaconsfield, H9W 4A4

Lecture in English, followed by a bilingual question period.

2018 09 20JPDion 1901ou1904WifridLaurierWilfrid Laurier (1841-1919) has been leader of the Liberal Party of Canada for over 30 years and Prime Minister of Canada for 15 consecutive years (1896-1911). Very popular during his lifetime as well as after his death, Laurier remains one of the most admired Canadian statesmen. Not surprisingly, there are more memorabilia (collectables) related to Laurier than to the other Prime Ministers all together. This lecture will describe some Laurier collectables: painting, photographs, furniture, ceramic plates, glassware, tobacco items, books and so forth, connecting them to special events in the life of Laurier.
2018 09 20JPDion 1906PlaqueMuraleLaurierParRidgways

2018 09 20JPDion IMG 9146ChaiseLaurier1896




Jean-Pierre Dion, Ph.D., is a retired professor at l'Université du Québec à Montréal. For nearly fifty years, he has been collecting, with his wife Jacqueline Beaudry Dion, the Canadian heritage of the 19th and 20th centuries, including ancient books, ceramics and glass, subjects on which the couple has made many Conferences and publications. A few days ago, the couple also launched a tenth book: Peinture sur porcelaine dans les institutions religieuses au Québec, 1890-1955. Over the years various mementos by Wilfrid Laurier have accumulated. Our speaker today presents them to us by situating them in their context.


In 2018-2019, the Beaurepaire-Beaconsfield Historical Society hosted various lectures on history.

Our lectures take place on the 3rd Thursday of the month, from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

January 17, 2019 – Jacques Ruelland – Freemasonry

February 21, 2019 –Alexander Reford – Model Farmer-Robert Reford and the Origins of Macdonald College in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue

March 21, 2019 – Denis Gravel – Explosions à LaSalle (in French)

April 18, 2019 – Michel Belisle – LA VILLEGGIATURA

May 16, 2019 – Hélène Jasmin – THE LAKE DISTRICT, a jewel in the British Crown

Everyone welcome. 

Free for members; $2 for non-members
Become a member for $5 per year 

InformationContact us


Pierre LeSueur and Marguerite Messier travelling from Montréal to Louisiana in 1704 and 1705 for a new life, in a new colony

Guest SpeakerMarcel Lussier, Eng., M.Sc.

When:  Thursday, May 17, 2018, from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Where: Centennial Hall

            288 Beaconsfield Blvd, Beaconsfield, H9W 4A4

Lecture in English followed by a bilingual question period.

2018-05-17MarcelLucier PierreLeSueur SiouxPierre LeSueur, coureur des bois, explorer and trader, decided to migrate to Louisiana and to establish his family in the Biloxi area, a new French fort on the Golf of Mexico. He travelled by sea on a boat called the Pélican from France to the Caribbean’s. First stop in Saint-Domingue (Haiti), then in Cuba.2018-05-17MarcelLussier La salle expedition2018-05-17MarcelLussier LaSalle1669

During that time, his wife Marguerite Messier and their five kids left Montréal by canoes heading to the Great Lakes, spending the winter at fort Michillimakinac. In springtime, she travelled south down the Mississippi River and arrived at fort Biloxi in June 1705.
The lecture will explain the path, the difficulties and the surprises met by both members of the LeSueur couple!2018-05-17MarcelLussier Louisiane9










Our speaker, Marcel Lussier, Eng., M.Sc., has been sanitary engineer and environmental adviser for 22 years for Hydro-Québec (on the retired list in 2003).

Three years (2003-2005) as president of an Environmental Consulting Group of the International Joint Commission Canada-United States studying the water levels of Lake Ontario and of the St-Lawrence River.
Searcher (or inquirer) and lecture in historical or environmental conferences, such as FRONTENAC, LASALLE, D'IBERVILLE or CLIMATE CHANGES and WATER PROBLEMS.
Member of different Historical Societies and also Member of Parliament for Brossard-LaPrairie (2006-2008).


Murder Will Out – Two Centuries Later

Guest SpeakerJohn Kalbfleisch

When:  Thursday, April 19, 2018, from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Where: Centennial Hall

            288 Beaconsfield Blvd, Beaconsfield, H9W 4A4

Lecture in English followed by a bilingual question period. 2018-04-19AStainCover

Robert Watson was a member of the prominent Ogilvie flour-milling family. When a shotgun blast tore into his back in 1827, it not only horrified the bustling city of Montreal but also launched a mystery that endures to this day: who killed the unsuspecting Watson, and why? Mr. Kalbfleisch has long been fascinated by the crime, and his new novel, A Stain Upon the Land, wrestles with those two haunting questions.

2018-04-19Kalbfleisch1Longtime Montreal Gazette journalist John Kalbfleisch began writing a regular column on the city’s history for the newspaper in 2000. His novel A Stain Upon the Land was published in June 2017. He is also the author of Le cadeau royal: Histoire de la ville de Mont-Royal / The Royal Gift: a History of Town of Mount Royal (2013) and This Island In Time: Remarkable Tales from Montreal’s Past (Véhicule Press, 2008), and is the co-author of Montreal’s Century: a Record of the News and People Who Shaped the City in the 20th Century (Trécarré, 1999).


Sir Henri-Gustave Joly de Lotbinière

followed by

Les droits des femmes dans le Bas-Canada


Guest SpeakersJean-Pierre Raymond and Andrée Aubut

When:  Thursday, March 15, 2018, from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Where: Centennial Hall

            288 Beaconsfield Blvd, Beaconsfield, H9W 4A4

Lecture in French with English PowerPoint slides, followed by a bilingual question period.

2018-03-15JPRaymond HenriGustaveLotbiniereLG-CB KCMG2018-03-15JPRaymond HenriGustaveJolyLotbiniere Margaretta enfantsFirst, Jean-Pierre Raymond will talk about "Sir Henri-Gustave Joly de Lotbinière", first leader of the Quebec Liberal Party 150 years ago and first Prime Minister of the Quebec Liberal Party in 1878-79. He is a descendant of the two engineers Michel Chartier de Lotbinière and Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Léry. He is the father of two engineers who will be generals in the First World War and his four daughters married engineers one of which will be general. He is also the father of sustainable development in forestry.


2018-03-15AndreeAubut-Femmes3060Following this, Andrée Aubut will commemorate the 100th anniversary of women's right to vote in Canada with a presentation entitled "Women's Rights in Lower Canada", recalling that women have already had the right to vote in Lower Canada between 1791 and 1849. She will explain how women like Louise-Magdeleine Chaussegros de Léry, her daughter-in-law Mary-Charlotte Munro de Fowlis and her granddaughter Julie-Christine Chartier de Lotbinière benefited from the peculiarities of the French law known as Coutume de Paris enshrined in the Act of Quebec for the second version of the province of Quebec (1774). Julie-Christine is the mother of Henri-Gustave.


Both presentations will be in French and the Power Point in English, allowing for a bilingual presentation.

Jean-Pierre Raymond is a retired engineer, passionate about history who studies the first Canadian engineers.

Andrée Aubut is a retired teacher who is interested in the history of women in Nouvelle-France and under British regime and in particular the laws that applied to property rights.

2018-03-15JPRaymond G-JChaussegrosdeLery M-RLegardeurdeBeauvaisThe two personifies in period costumes historical figures like the couples Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Léry and Marie-Renée Legardeur de Beauvais, Michel Chartier de Lotbinière and Louise-Magdeleine Chaussegros de Léry, Ralph-Henri Bruyère and Janet Dunbar and finally Henri-Gustave Joly and Margharetta-Josepha Gowen.


Pirates of North Atlantic

David Kirke and Elcid Barrett


2018 02 1

Guest SpeakerRoy Wright

When:  Thursday, February 15, 2018, from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Where: Centennial Hall

            288 Beaconsfield Blvd, Beaconsfield, H9W 4A4


Lecture in English followed by a bilingual question period.

Although less notorious than the Caribbean, the North Atlantic has had its share of romantic swashbucklers.
The Atlantic Provinces and Quebec claim buried treasure and other folklore, but some truly significant historical figures as well. We will focus on one exponent of each tradition: Elcid Barrett, folklorically more famous today than even Captain Kidd, thanks to Stan Rogers, and David Kirke, who was knighted for capturing Québec from Champlain in 1629. Their stories illuminate the role pirates and privateers have played in our history and mythology, and their fate in retirement highlights the societal advances made since then, if not more enlightened political policy. Indeed, we still live in an age of piracy.

Join us for a singalong with Roy Wright.