Becky Goodliff

Something that I wanted to look at during this project was how the experience of enslaved people has been remembered and why some of it has remained out of public view. Our trip to Lucan on Tuesday where we visited that Lucan Area Heritage and Donnelly Museum was a perfect opportunity for this. Whilst at the museum it was interesting to see and learn about the Donnelly Murders as the museum held lots of artefacts and information pertaining to them, but there was little on the original settlement of Wilberforce–only two plaques (including mistakes) around the back of the museum, and a small display inside that commemorated the original black settlers and their story. It is interesting to see how the story of the Donnelly’s, a family originating in Ireland, and their murders have overshadowed the history of this town. Also, there was only a small bit of information on the indigenous people of the land that was settled upon. At Huron, it was good to attend an indigenous arts evening, which showed us that there is a resurgence and renewed interest in the history of indigenous people, but there was little of this interest reflected in the museum or outside the university. Something that stuck with me was how these histories had appeared to almost have been put aside in favour of the story of the Donnellys’. Perhaps this is because of the fascination factor of a murder of a whole family at once or with hidden undertones of racism.

We also went to a cemetery near Lucan, which is home to the gravestones and remains of the founders of the original 1830 Wilberforce settlement, though moved from their original burial place of Cincinnati. Looking at the grave site it was thought-provoking to see that whilst their graves were moved to what some might call their rightful place, they were still next to a shed away from any of the others, with stones that were in comparison poorly maintained to the others in the cemetery and were almost hidden at the back. However, when Professor Olivette visited the site two year previous the stones were sinking into the ground; this shows us that someone is putting the effort into remembering this history, though more could be done to draw attention to it.

Something that I would be interested in researching further would be, in what other places history has been obscured or hidden in favour of other events and the reasons behind this. If possible, I would like to incorporate this into my dissertation next year.