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Our hills and heritage: five views of northumberland county

Spring 2009 Program


Northumberland County is our home, but how many of us know how it has developed since the first years of settlement? How many of us can read the clues in the landscape, or understand Northumberland's place in Canadian literature and art? This series has been designed to offer fresh insights and open our eyes to the county about us.


This series is co-sponsored by the Port Hope and Cobourg branches of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario and is presented in association with The Victoria Hall Volunteers.


Included for subscribers of this series is a tour of the studio of the internationally renowned Northumberland artist Ron Bolt.



Thursday, April 2, 2009 - Settling the land

Alan Brunger, historical geography, Trent University


Settlement sprang up along the shore of Lake Ontario – known as "the Front" – as well as the rivers that provided power for mills. The surrounding forest was gradually cleared and many farms established as well as small centres and occasional towns which competed for the resources of the "Back" townships on the frontier far to the north.

 Alan Brunger was a faculty member in the Geography Department, Trent University for many years, and is now professor emeritus. His research interests and publications have included the territories of British settlement including Upper Canada, Western Australia and South Africa.



Thursday, April 16, 2009 - Listen! The landscape is speaking to us

Thomas McIlwraith, historical geography, University of Toronto

Sponsored by the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, Port Hope branch


Northumberland County is filled with evidence of its history. Two centuries of hopes and achievements are written on its fields, roads, buildings, and villages. They are sitting there, comprising a cultural landscape waiting to be interpreted by the inquiring countryside explorer.


Thomas McIlwraith is professor emeritus of historical geography in the University of Toronto at Mississauga. His research, centred in the Ontario and Great Lakes region throughout the 19th century, focuses on agricultural, transport and building technology. His book, Looking for Old Ontario (1997), helps readers understand how the countryside and towns may be read as expressions of social development. Professor McIlwraith is co-editor of the Concise Historical Atlas of Canada (1998), and North America: The Historical Geography of a Changing Continent (2001). He has served as chairman of the Mississauga Heritage Advisory Committee, and as a member of the Conservation Review Board for the Province of Ontario. He is currently book review editor for Ontario History.



Thursday, April 23, 2009 - Layered Landscapes

Brian Osborne, historical geography, Queen’s University

Sponsored by the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, Cobourg branch


The landscape incorporates the views of successive occupants. It has been home to First Nations, wilderness to settlers, a resource for an emerging economy, an icon of national identity, a contested place today over concerns with ecology, heritage, and development.


Dr. Brian Osborne is professor emeritus of geography at Queen’s University, Kingston, where he has taught since 1967, and is also an adjunct research professor at Carleton University. Professor Osborne’s research areas include aboriginal history, settlement history, cultural landscapes, and the role of symbolic landscapes in the development of a Canadian sense of place. Professor Osborne has served as a consultant for the National Capital Commission, Heritage Canada, Parks Canada, Canada Post, and the National Film Board. He is currently past president of the Ontario Historical Society, past president of the Kingston Historical Society, and serves on the boards of several heritage and community organizations.



Thursday, April 30, 2009 - Literary legacy

Michael Peterman, English, Trent University


From the days of the settlers, most notably Susanna Moodie and Catharine Parr Traill, the county has been a home for writers and the subject of their work.


Michael Peterman is professor emeritus, having recently retired from Trent University where he taught in the English Department and the Canadian Studies Program. He has written and edited numerous books on writers like Susanna Moodie, Catharine Parr Traill, Isabella Valancy Crawford, Robertson Davies, Timothy Findley and Willa Cather. His latest is "Sisters in Two Worlds: A Visual Biography of Moodie and Traill” (2007). He is a member of the Royal Society of Canada and enjoys spending his summers near Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.



Thursday, 7 May, 2009 - A heritage in art

Dorette Carter, Art Gallery of Northumberland


From Charles Fothergill in Port Hope and Paul Kane in Cobourg in the early 19th century, county artists have proliferated, among them lesser known painters like Mrs A. Cox, who captured Cobourg in watercolour in the 1890s.


Dorette Carter is director/curator of the Art Gallery of Northumberland. Educated at the University of Toronto, Dorette has been employed in the museum/public art gallery field for almost 30 years. She has taught at Niagara College, Niagara University, Confederation College and Lakehead University.



Friday, May 8, 2009 - Studio Tour of Cobourg artist, Ron Bolt


Ron is a painter and printmaker with an international reputation. His work is in corporate and public collections across Canada and abroad, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England, and the Museum of Modern Art, Wakayama, Japan. He was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Art in 1986 and served as its 27th President from 2000 to 2002. Ron is preparing a solo exhibition for autumn 2009 with his Toronto dealer, the Loch Gallery. He is also working on 2 new prints. This activity plus previous works in the collection of his wife Judy presents lots to see and discuss.