Muriel Sheldon: A look back at helping us remember
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Mar 05, 2015  |  Vote 0    0

Muriel Sheldon: A look back at helping us remember

St. Marys Journal Argus

Stew Slater

St. Marys Journal Argus

Twenty-five years ago this week, a delegation of parents made a presentation to the Perth County School Board, opposing the implementation of Junior Kindergarten. Seventy-five years ago, a rail accident near Ingersoll resulted in increased train traffic through what was then known as Kelly’s Siding. One hundred years ago, St. Marys Hardware was advertising all the necessary supplies for the making of maple syrup.

It was a series of this type of facts and figures that were reeled off by the MC for last month’s 19th annual Heritage Fair, St. Marys Heritage Committee Chair Larry Pfaff, as he introduced long-time St. Marys Journal Argus columnist Muriel Sheldon.

“Muriel, with her great interest and knowledge of our history, was expert at pulling out that information and those issues which help us to appreciate our past,” Pfaff commented, after noting that Sheldon accomplished the creation of the weekly “Looking Back” column by “struggling with the (St. Marys Museum’s) microfilm reader — undoubtedly one of the most cumbersome pieces of technology ever devised.”

I, as the current editor of the Journal Argus, was called upon to follow up on Pfaff’s introduction. And, perhaps being less inclined towards the precise facts-and-figures, and more inclined towards inspiring as many people as possible to read the newspaper, I offered a slightly different take.

“With the Looking Back, when your name hit the ‘25 years ago’ column, you knew you’d made it. You were forced to admit you were from St. Marys.”

Now, with Sheldon having announced she is retiring from “Looking Back,” the responsibility for giving Journal Argus readers a greater sense of the place in which they live has been passed on. After 13 years poring through that microfilm reader and recording what she perceived as a meaningful reflection of this community’s events, accomplishments, and commentaries from years past, this week’s edition of the Journal Argus contains her final submission as a regular columnist.

“I always enjoyed looking out into the outlying communities to find out what was happening there, too,” Sheldon commented, after she had been surprised on Friday by the invitation to come to the stage and be recognized.

Sheldon was recognized at the 2012 Heritage Fair for her 10th anniversary creating the column.

Taking over effective this week on Page 7 of the printed version of the weekly Journal Argus (and online at www.southwesternontario.ca) will be Marvin Arthur. A St. Marys Museum volunteer for the past couple of years after retiring as a service manager at Hutton Transport in Uniondale, Arthur is familiar with the microfilm because he has already been doing work looking up family members for people researching their genealogy.

“I’ve always been interested in history,” Arthur told me last week, after dropping by to talk about the logistics of transferring the decades-old information on the microfilm reader to each week’s edition of the newspaper.

During his recent volunteer work at the Museum, Arthur has taken a particular interest in letters home to St. Marys from soldiers serving overseas.

“Often, the families would take (the letters) to the Journal Argus and ask if they could be printed,” he explained.

“They couldn’t say exactly where they were and what they were doing but, still, some of them were pretty brutal.”

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