June Chambers of Bond Head was given a well-deserved place on the Museum on the Boyne’s Wall of Honour in Alliston earlier this month.
“I was totally surprised and delighted to be included in the Museum on the Boyne’s Wall of Honour for volunteers who have actively been protecting and promoting South Simcoe history,” Chambers said. “I am in the best of company with the previously chosen 19 volunteers.”
Each year since 2003, the museum advisory committee recognizes an individual or organization who works to preserve and promote history in South Simcoe.
Attending the event at the museum celebrating Chambers’s achievements were local dignitaries, family, friends, and members of Tecumseth and West Gwillimbury Historical Society (TWGHS) and the Alliston Historical Society.
Simcoe-Grey MP Terry Dowdall thanked Chambers for her contributions and volunteer work, as did mayors Rob Keffer of Bradford West Gwillimbury and Rick Milne of New Tecumseth. Chambers received certificates from each.
Katie Huddleston, supervisor of culture at the Museum on the Boyne, presented Chambers with a print of a painting of the museum recently completed by Bradford artist and illustrator Tobi Zarb.
Chambers entertained the group with a lively account of the early days of the TWGHS, and more recent fundraising activities such as her writing and directing a play, Saving Grace, performed twice to a full house at the Tec-We-Gwil WI Hall in Newton Robinson in May 2018.
The play includes mention of the original owners of the 1845 former inn where Chambers and her family have lived since 1973. Intrigued with the history, she said, “we spent many hours searching records in the Barrie courthouse and the Ontario Archives in Toronto to learn about the original owners, the Brazils, how, why and when they came here.”
The property now has BWG heritage designation.
The TWGHS was formed in 1978, and Chambers became involved a year later.
She said, “I began as secretary, then publicity chair with one of my favourite tasks — designing bold posters to attract people’s attention amid all the other ads.”
This position morphed into programs director, where she engaged speakers passionate about their interests.
Chambers herself is an animated speaker. In the nomination letter for the Wall of Honour, the TWGHS said, “She has enchanted and entertained us many evenings with informative talks on home furnishings and fashions of bygone eras as well as taking part in panel discussions on women’s roles through the ages. And buttons! Who knew that buttons could be so fascinating and historically significant?”
The letter also said, “There is no doubt that June’s involvement with TWGHS has been pivotal to the many contributions to heritage made by TWGHS and has been a major reason for the society’s longevity and continuing success.”
Chambers is also an active member of the Bradford West Gwillimbury Local History Association and contributed to the book, The Legacy of West Gwillimbury: Governor Simcoe Slept Here.
Besides her involvement in the historical societies, Chambers found enriching opportunities as a volunteer at historic sites such as the Gibson House in Willowdale and Montgomery’s Inn in Etobicoke.
She had one paid job as a part-time interpreter at Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto for 16 years, and then curated its button collection. She also organized the button collection stored at the Simcoe County Museum in Midhurst.
Chambers continues to both create and preserve, often blending the two. She said her main preoccupation for the past two years is writing a book: Material Comforts…Material Pleasures: A Memoir, Reflections of a Textile Collector.
Chambers’s photo will remain on display in the museum until the 2023 recipient is honoured. Past recipients can be found here.
Rosaleen Egan is a freelance journalist, storyteller, and playwright. She blogs on her website: rosiewrites.com.