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Area Historical Society makes good use of COVID isolation

Rydal Bank community and friends come together to help protect, maintain historic church and community centre - from a distance

Rydal Bank, Ont - It was quiet this fall for the Rydal Bank Historical Society after announcing the cancellation of the annual Thanksgiving dinner because of concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic. The fundraising event is known to many in the community. It contributes to raising the needed funds to maintain the Rydal Bank Church and Rydal Bank Community Hall, both heritage buildings with strong roots within the community. 

In-lieu-of the original dinner, the fundraiser went on differently with a “No Dinner, Dinner Event." For individuals who still wanted to support the historical buildings could make donations and purchase tickets. Jean Hershey, the secretary for the society, was thrilled by the amount of support. 

“It was wonderful. People who have connections with Rydal Bank contacted us. They made donations. We had other people support us just by buying a ticket or two. And then we have also had people who have made significant donations. In recognition of the fact, we have major projects that we wanted to undertake, and they wanted to support us,” she said. 

The Historical Society has been fundraising for three main projects, a new spire for the church, a fresh coat of paint for the church and new shingles for the front of the community hall. The church and the hall are over 100 years old, and maintenance is essential in keeping its structure alive and preserving the history that follows these historical figures.

“You can imagine they need constant upkeep and maintenance. And that really was one of the founding objectives of our society was to maintain these two buildings,” Hershey commented.  

Although all fundraising efforts have had to be put on hold since the pandemic, the society is fortunate they have been able to complete two out of the three projects during such troubling times. Through kind volunteers, the spire on the church was completed in late August. At the same time, the shingles for the community hall were completed this past fall.

“We’re very proud at the fact we’ve been able to complete those two projects. They are important to the structures and are important to us. I mean, when you have three projects, and you’re able to complete two during a pandemic, it’s wonderful that people have responded to our needs,” said Hershey. 

The two projects were completed by funds saved by the society over the years and from the community's help and support. Grants have been provided to the community over the past years to assist with operating costs and have enabled the community to enhance the church's glass windows. 

As the province enters its second lockdown, Hershey is hopeful for the future, and the third project to be completed come summer 2021. As Hershey explains, the church's repainting is very important, but it all depends on the funds coming in. 

“Regardless that the third project may begin in the summer, depending on how the fundraising goes during the spring, we’re relieved by the accomplishments of the two finished projects,” said Hershey. 

The appeal is set for the spring to discuss the bid for repainting the church. For individuals interested in donating to support the Rydal Bank Historical Society's work, donations can be made by mail to the Society at RR#2, Bruce Mines, Ont. For additional information, contact Jean Hershey at 705-785-3534.