The great grandson of Goulbourn settler Isabella Pratt Allen is hoping to connect with other descendants and gather for the unveiling of a new exhibit at the Goulbourn Museum on Saturday, August 17.
Robin Ritchie, an Ottawa lawyer, estimates that descendants of his great grandmother must number well over 200. “Many of her descendants are still in the Ottawa area but many have moved away and we’d like to get the word out to all of them about this event,” he said. Descendants can reach out to Mr. Ritchie via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to share the details of their family connection.
The outdoor exhibition shines a spotlight on Stanley’s Corners, the area surrounding the Museum. Isabella, who was born on the ninth line of Goulbourn Township in March of 1837, is quoted on one of the exhibit panels. Her quote, originally published in The Evening Citizen in 1936 when she was in her 100th year, recalls the harrowing times of the early settler in the Ottawa Valley. “We seemed hemmed right in with bush. We could only see a short distance from any point,” she said. “The constant fear of all the settlers was that a fire might start in the bush and that they would be caught in it.”
At the event to launch this permanent outdoor exhibit, Mr. Ritchie will also be donating a portrait of Isabella that dates to the late 1800s. The Museum’s brand new heritage garden will also be unveiled.
“The exhibit highlights old businesses and people’s memories of Stanley’s Corners,” said Tracey Donaldson, Manager and Exhibitions Curator at the Goulbourn Museum. Each outdoor panel will feature details about a specific heritage plant to incorporate the new garden. “We want to teach the community about the importance of gardens and how they would have been depended on in Goulbourn’s early years,” she explains. “Plants would have been used for everything from food, medication and dye.”
Living off the land was something Isabella would have grown up doing. Raising 11 children while her husband was often away for the winter months in the logging camps of the Ottawa Valley meant Isabella had to be strong, industrious and energetic. She thought nothing of walking three miles to Richmond, and back, for groceries and supplies. She was known never to take an afternoon nap in her entire life, not once. There were just too many things to get done on the Twin Elm farm.
“She was a remarkable woman by any standard,” said Mr. Ritchie of his great grandmother who passed away quietly in 1942 at the age of 105.
(The Heritage Garden at the Goulbourn Museum. Photo: The Stittsville Handyman)
To celebrate the launch of the exhibit and garden, the public is invited to the Goulbourn Museum for a Corn Roast on Saturday, August 17 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Relatives and descendants of Isabella Pratt Allan are encouraged to attend. The event will feature musical entertainment, games and activities and of course, fresh corn. Families can bring a blanket and enjoy an afternoon feast while reveling in some old-fashioned fun on the Museum grounds. Cost is by donation.