History of Georgina Historical Society
The history of the Georgina Historical Society and the Georgina Pioneer Village and Archives have been closely linked. A local woman named Nena Marsden identified the need for an historic site in this community in 1968, forming the Lake Simcoe South Shore Historical Society; this group later changed their name to the Georgina Historical Society in 1974. If you want to read about the people who were present at the first meeting of the Georgina Historical Society, you can read the minutes of the first meeting here.
In order to raise money to purchase artifacts and historical buildings, a number of fundraising campaigns were mounted by the society. In 1975, they managed to raise enough money to purchase its first two buildings – the Smallwood Log Cabin and the Baldwin Free Methodist Church. After petitioning the town to give them land on which to place these buildings, the municipal government decided to set aside 10 acres of land for the historical society to use as a community museum. After this bylaw was enacted, a local First Nations chief named Lorenzo Big Canoe officially opened the Georgina Pioneer Village & Archives to the public in Thanksgiving of 1975.
Over the years, the Georgina Pioneer Village grew in size. This was due to the efforts of the Georgina Historical Society, who were instrumental in moving of all of the buildings that currently populate the property of the Pioneer Village. These buildings include: a general store, a blacksmith shop, a barn, a train station, a one-room schoolhouse, a doctor’s house, a middle-class dwelling, and, lastly, a reproduction trapper’s cabin. One more log cabin is in the process of being built, and another log cabin is due to be moved there in the near future. Since there are so many buildings on the Pioneer Village property, objects that were collected by members of the Georgina Historical Society over a fifty- year period now furnish each of the houses on the property of the Georgina Pioneer Village & Archives.
Furthermore, the Georgina Historical Society has been instrumental in the management and operation of the Georgina Pioneer Village & Archives. We still maintain a close partnership with the Town of Georgina, who currently maintains the Village on a day-to-day basis. We also participate in historical events of all kinds around Georgina, such as at Festival on High and the Sutton Fair and Horse Show. We also strive to educate the public through our general meetings, held on a monthly basis, in the sharing and dissemination of topics of historical interest relating to the communities that make up the Township of Georgina. Most recently, we have been engaged in drawing public awareness of the need to preserve many aspects of our local heritage, such as cemeteries, heritage houses, and other topics of historic interest. One of our other projects at the present time is to raise money to restore an old railway caboose, which resides onsite at the Georgina Pioneer Village & Archives.
Finally, we recognize that we would not be where we are today without the heroic efforts of Nena Marsden to establish the society in the first place. Sadly, she passed away recently at the age of 92 years. A stone commemorating Nena Marsden, in honor of the founder of the Georgina Historical Society, was laid in the village in the front gardens of the Noble House after her passing in 2018. Additionally, the Georgina Historical Society gives out a bursary on an annual basis, named after her as the “Nena Marsden Memorial Bursary”; this $500 bursary is given to a graduating high school student pursuing a post-secondary education who has demonstrated critical thinking skills by writing an essay on a topic set by the Georgina Historical Society.
Lastly, we would encourage anyone with an interest in history to contribute to the Georgina Historical Society’s newsletter, thereby adding to the body of local knowledge about the history of Georgina