The Norfolk Historical Society Board of Directors – with the input of our membership, social media community, and the general public – is working towards several new initiatives in addition to the work we are currently doing. Part of the challenge of the NHS (after the Eva Brook Donly Museum and Artifact transition to Norfolk County) was to do some soul-searching as a historic organization with deep roots in the history and heritage of Norfolk County. We set up an internal committee which gathered feedback through member and public engagement to determine what the NHS purpose and direction would be going forward. We recognize that the recent changes the NHS has undergone have been monumental, but that is also followed by proportionally epic opportunities. Below are some of the broad and specific goals of our (and your) Norfolk Historical Society. Many parts of this vision already have steps taken to being realized, while others are still aspirational. The NHS will grow and change in future, but it will always have a role and purpose in Norfolk County.
New Mission Statement
To Protect, Promote, and Preserve the History and Heritage of Norfolk County
This is our legacy and our purpose that will underline everything we do. When we remind ourselves why we volunteer, or why we pay our membership dues, or why we are browsing this website, it’s for this purpose. We hope you’ll share in our ‘mission’ as well!
Work with local historians interested in publishing historical papers (5000 words or less with criteria established by the NHS Board). These papers will be professionally prepared and edited by an academic historian. The NHS would fund a portion (or more) of the cost of publication in return for a return on the investment (again guidelines to be established by the NHS.
The Norfolk Historical Society awards a $750 scholarship to a Norfolk County secondary school graduate who is pursuing a post-secondary program in the social sciences or a history-related discipline. The award is granted to a student with an overall Grade 12 average of 75% or higher who is in finanical need, and given to the recipient at or around graduation time.
Junior Board Member
The NHS is investigating the creation of a Junior Board Member position on the NHS Board of Directors. The JBM would be a citizen of Norfolk County (under 30 years of age) who has an interest in the goals and objectives of NHS and a passion for local history. The JBM would have responsibilities on the NHS Board and be largely tasked with youth engagement.
Norfolk History Award
So many people in Norfolk work hard in the service of preserving, protecting, and promoting local history. To that end, it’s the goal of the NHS to create a Local History Award for an individual who has demonstrated outstanding work in the field of local history either through publications, workshops, volunteerism, videos or other media. Hard work and exceptional service must be recognized. The NHS will establish the criteria and administer this award.
Recruit Fundraising Volunteers
Fundraising is critical to any charity. The NHS is no different in that regard. To achieve the goals of our organization, we must continue and expand our fundraising efforts though projects that are fun, exciting, and successful. We hope to recruit a volunteer to take the lead on some of our fundraising efforts. That would be a win for the NHS, the community, donors, and Norfolk history!
The NHS had a wonderful and functioning website (formerly “norfolklore.com”). Much of the information from that website has been integrated into this swanky, new website. Besides the upgraded look and theme of the new site, we built the platform on www.norfolkhistoricalsociety.ca because that is our identity and our group. Our goal for the new website is to keep it clean and simple, but also interactive and useful to our membership and visitors. We have enhancement planned in multiple phases that will include additional and convenient features moving forward. But even more important than shiny new bells-and-whistles, our website is only as good as how often we update it. And it’s our goal to keep it updated regularly!
Have you noticed that we started a Facebook group? If not follow the Norfolk Historical Society on Facebook right now! Go there and hit “like” and then come back. Okay, now we can tell you that we are committed to keeping our Facebook group regularly updated with news, event reminders, humour, historical nuggets, photos from events, etc. Facebook is a great way to each out to our members and the Norfolk community. But more importantly, it’s a way for YOU to reach out back to us. Please continue to “like”, comment, and share on the NHS Facebook group page.
NHS Meetings & Commitment
A lot happens behind the scenes. The NHS Board of Directors meets regularly at least 10 months of 12 in the year. Then, the NHS Board Executive meets just as frequently in addition to regular meetings. Then, there are meetings related to specific events and matters that need to be planned or addressed. The commitment by many of our volunteers including (but not limited to) Board Members, past Archives/Museum volunteers, event-specific volunteers, etc has been unparalleled for Norfolk County. When the NHS ceased operating the Eva Brook Donly Museum and Archives (no more paid staff) while it waited almost a year for Norfolk County to agree to a Transfer Agreement, the Eva Brook Donly building and Archives remained open during that time ENTIRELY 100% on volunteer effort. That is virtually unheard of anywhere else. The NHS and it’s core team of volunteers are about the only thing more amazing than the history and heritage of Norfolk County itself! Our goal is to continue to outperform.
Donations, Gifts, & Bequests
The NHS welcomes donations of cash, stock, and life insurance for special projects and/or operational expenses. What better legacy is there than to know that you’ve been instrumental at preserving the rich heritage and history of Norfolk County with your financial gift. We honour all of our donors and will continue to look at ways we can show appreciation for the generosity of the people who are dedicated tot he success of the Norfolk Historical Society and its mission.
Part of our mission is to promote Norfolk history and heritage. Plaques are an excellent way to spread knowledge and history while also preserving historical information and awareness at the same time. We walk by houses, into buildings, and onto streets that have decades and even a century or more of history behind them… often without even realizing it. Increasing a public awareness of history leads to a greater appreciation of it. The NHS is investigating the possibility of partnering with Norfolk County Heritage and Culture as well as private sponsors to put up more historical plaques in our community.
Speakers Series Talks & New Venues
Our wildly popular and successful event, the ongoing Speakers Series Talks, is going places! We’ve had guest speakers covering topics like apple growing in Norfolk, United Empire Loyalists, Norfolk’s African-Canadian history, Six Nations seedkeeping, a personal adoption story and even a World War I “pop-up” museum with touchable artifacts! Our program chair is planning many more exciting Talks for the coming months… but with a twist! The NHS is experimenting with different venues for our Speakers Series Talks. So the library talk is now taking place in the Library. The “tree” talk is taking place at the St. William Forestry station, etc. Variety is the spice of life.
Celebrating Historical Figures & Event Anniversaries
Norfolk’s agricultural motto centers around “We Grow Our Own” as a reflection of the diversity of foods in our region. But we are also rich in our heritage and history as well. We have many local heroes, leaders, and historical figures and events that have either been forgotten or ignored for too long. The NHS will be aspiring to celebrate these figures and events at key anniversaries in the spirit of raising education and awareness in our community. We’ve already begun this with with our salute to Eva Brook Donly and William Edgar Cantelon in the recent pasts. We plan to continue this tradition
Protecting Norfolk History
There is power in numbers. As we continue to grow our membership, we become a positive force for saving and preserving history. When Norfolk County council voted against acquiring the Eva Brook Donly collections, we voiced our outrage. Fellow citizen and NHS member launched a petition movement that gathered almost 2000 signatures in a matter of days! This had an impact and lead to the reversal of Council’s earlier decision. The NHS recognizes that it is a voice for history and heritage in Norfolk and – when called upon – will not back down from reminding our town Council of the importance of our shared history and heritage.