WILLIAMSTOWN, ON, Sept. 7 /CNW/ - Today, the Ontario Heritage Trust and
Doors Open Cornwall-Seaway Valley unveiled a provincial plaque to commemorate
Bethune-Thompson House owes its name to two prominent owners - the
Reverend John Bethune and explorer David Thompson. But it was Peter Ferguson,
an early settler, who first built a house on this site in 1784. Bethune
(1751-1815), founding minister of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in
Williamstown and the first Presbyterian minister in Upper Canada, acquired the
property in 1804. He built a larger house which incorporated Ferguson's home
as its kitchen wing. In 1815, the house was acquired by David Thompson
(1770-1857), the famous North West Company explorer who mapped much of what is
now western Canada.
"This house - the oldest residence owned by the Trust - has a lasting
legacy in Eastern Ontario that continues to attract attention," said The
Honourable Lincoln M. Alexander, Chairman of the Ontario Heritage Trust. "We
are delighted to commemorate it today with this provincial plaque, and to
continue to welcome people through its doors during Doors Open Cornwall-Seaway
This year also marks the 150th anniversary of Thompson's death and the
200th anniversary of his first crossing of the Rocky Mountains - a fitting
occasion to commemorate North America's "Greatest Geographer" and the dwelling
that was his home for the latter part of his life.
"We are honoured to unveil a plaque to commemorate this site," added The
Honourable Caroline Di Cocco, Ontario Minister of Culture. "Bethune-Thompson
House - as well as its famous residents - has resonated in this community for
years. Today's plaque unveiling reinforces this historical presence."
The Ontario Heritage Trust acquired Bethune-Thompson House in 1977.
(Eleven years later, the Trust bought the adjacent workers' cottage, a
timber-framed structure from the early 1840s.) The Trust's conservation
strategy for Bethune-Thompson House integrated various heritage disciplines to
provide a comprehensive approach to recording and restoring the site.
Extensive archaeological, architectural and historical research was conducted
before the property was restored between 1985 and 1993. The Bethune-Thompson
project became a model that the Trust followed in subsequent restorations of
"Bethune-Thompson House has been a part of Doors Open Cornwall-Seaway
Valley from the very beginning," said Candy Pollard, Marketing and Events
Coordinator with Cornwall & Seaway Valley Tourism. "We are delighted to be
celebrating our 5th anniversary of Doors Open Cornwall-Seaway Valley at this
This unveiling is part of the Trust's Provincial Plaque Program that
commemorates significant people, places and events in Ontario's history. Since
1953, over 1,200 provincial plaques have been unveiled.
The Ontario Heritage Trust is an agency of the Government of Ontario,
dedicated to identifying, preserving, protecting and promoting Ontario's
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For further information:
For further information: Gordon Pim, Marketing and Communications
Coordinator, Ontario Heritage Trust, Telephone: (416) 325-1484, E-mail: