It's an anniversary year in Tillsonburg

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With Canada celebrating it's 150th anniversary this year, Annandale National Historic Site is brimming with planned activities.

Not just on Family Day (Monday, Feb. 20th), from 10-4 p.m., but throughout the year.

"This year, there's actually quite a few town anniversaries," said Patricia Phelps, Manager of Culture and Heritage/Curator at Annandale National Historic Site in Tillsonburg. "And ones that we are planning either a special event, or even an exhibit."

2017 is the 145th anniversary of the incorporation of the Town of Tillsonburg (March 2), and the town's very first council meeting was March 22.

It is the 65th anniversary on April 11 of the Tillsonburg Livvies winning the Canadian Men's Basketball Championship.

And it is the 80th anniversary on April 21 of The Great Flood of 1937.

"We're having a special exhibit for that," Phelps noted, "which will open the Friday night (April 21). So come for punch and cookies. It will be 80 years to the day that it started to rain - it started to rain on the 21st, and it rained and it rained and it rained, and then the dams all broke in the town. It really was a major thing because we lost both the dam at Concession Street and the dam Simcoe Street. So there was a huge cutoff of east-west traffic in the town. It was almost impossible... you had to go way out and around, and come in, from either the north or south."

At the end of May, it's the 135th anniversary of Oscar Wilde's visit to the county.

"It was because of that visit," said Phelps, "that he influenced the decoration of Annandale House and what makes it so special. So we're actually having a whole week-long celebration that we're calling Wilde Week in Tillsonburg."

It's also the 145th anniversary of the creation of Lake Lisgar.

The Lunch and Learn series at Annandale N.H.S. will include a presentation about the Livvies, the town's first council, and Fires and Floods.

"Everybody knows that E.D. Tillson was the first mayor, but people don't know a lot about who were the other fellows on council," said Phelps, noting only men were eligible in the 1870s.

"I've been researching, finding out their stories. The first council had Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Anglicans... there was a real mix of people in the community. We had professionals, there was a farmer, somebody who owned a livery stable, and a doctor - Dr. Sinclair. It's been a really interesting journey getting to know these other men.

"It's an interesting look at our community at that time, who got elected, and how long some remained on council. Some were on 10-12 years, and a couple became mayor. So they were obviously interested in the running of the community and investing in the community and were there for that civic duty."

With only one-year council terms, said Phelps, if you had an 'agenda' you had to get it done quick.

"But if the citizens were unhappy with a councillor, or council as a whole, they could - when the year came up - vote them all out... if they weren't doing the job they wanted them to do."

Tickets for the four-part Lunch and Learn series are on sale now. Seating is limited for presentations on the last Thursday or Friday of the month (12-2 p.m.), starting in February. Advance tickets are $25, or $80 for the series pass. Call 519-842-2294 for more info.

"They can go to all four, and get a pass, which is cheaper, or buy individual ticket for any one of them. And you get lunch, followed by the talk," said Phelps. 

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