Virtual history group gathers offline

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After staying online for more than nine years, a Dresden history Facebook group has brought out the community to learn more about the town’s past in person.

The Dresden Virtual History Group held its first Hometown Heritage Day event Friday, inviting people to take walking tours or listen to presentations.

Marie Carter said she founded the Facebook group because history-minded people in the community at the time couldn’t find the people to have a living history group. Now with more than 900 members, Carter said it was time to bring people together.

“There’s some tweaking we have to do, but I think it has possibilities, just by the level of excitement that we’re seeing by the people here,” she said. “I’m sure as they get talking about it, other people will get interested.”

Carter gave a presentation at the Czech Hall and then conducted a tour through part of the nearby Trillium Trail, which has historical plaques she helped choose and research.


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“It seemed like the place to start because it takes in the earliest areas of Dresden, the earliest areas of settlement and the earliest areas of industrial development,” she said.

“It gives you a nice cross-section between the early black history and the black land developers and also the early white settlers that were here.”

Jim Griffin, who moved to Dresden from Cambridge two years ago, gave a one-kilometre walking tour on the western part of the trail, which covers Dresden’s industrial past.

He said he noticed the plaques on the trail shortly after he moved and eventually found out about the Facebook group. A self-described “history buff,” Griffin said he was happy to share stories about the community.

“I was telling people who have lived here all of their lives things they didn’t know, which is always a great goal,” he said.

While Cambridge’s history is more about town-building with factories, mills and houses, Griffin said Chatham-Kent and Dresden has history “way, way back to the 1800s, with the black history and the early settlers, the War of 1812 and just so much for such a small river.”

He said he enjoyed finally meeting some of the people from the group in person. He said he has appreciated all of the people who have shared their photos of the town’s past on Facebook.

“It’s such a good resource, and you hear people’s stories and their family stories and it’s like a whole encyclopedia about the past history,” he said. “It’s a really cool site.”


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The event included a discount admission to Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site, which had presentations throughout the day, and a Dresden photo exhibit.

A member of the group also had artifacts on display inside the Czech Hall. Since Dresden doesn’t have a general history museum, these items usually aren’t available to the public, Carter said.

“A lot of the artifacts and things are in people’s personal collections,” she said. “This helps to give people a chance to show some of the things that they so lovingly preserved over the years.”

Carter said while speaking with the other members in person, she was also able to learn new pieces of history.

“They remember things that I don’t from before I was born or have stories of their parents or their grandparents,” she said. “It’s been a nice exchange.”

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