The beginnings of Clarenceville can be traced back to the late 1700s, about the time of the U.S.’s War of Independence, when those loyal to the British crown sought refuge in Canada.  Among the early settlers were the Salls, Dericks, Beerworts, Vaughans, and Hawleys, who came to an area that was initially, called Christie’s Manor.  It officially became Clarenceville in 1845, based on the name of the post office there, which was named for King William IV who was initially the Duke of Clarence.

Renamed in 1989 after the parish, the municipality is now known as St-Georges-de-Clarenceville.   The town is located just north of the Canada/US border, in between Missisquoi Bay and the Richelieu River.  In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Clarenceville served as an important supply centre for the surrounding agricultural communities as well as a customs post.   At the turn of the 20th century, it included four churches, a hotel, two cheese factories, a mill, a school, a convent and six stores.

A drive through Clarenceville today will find only pieces of the past visible in its present landscapes, small testaments to the thriving village centre that it once was.  Among the ETRC’s collection are a number of postcards from 1905 to 1915 with views from the Clarenceville of a century ago.  They are fantastic windows onto a past long gone and offer so many views of the town that it’s almost possible to imagine yourself in Clarenceville 100 years ago, strolling down the dirt streets lined with trees, past all the shops and waving to familiar faces.

The IOOF, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, or simply the Odd Fellows.  But what gives them the self-proclaimed description of being “odd”?  The order of Odd Fellows has its earliest beginnings in 18th-century England as a fraternal order of individuals desiring to do charitable things independent of religious and political affiliations.  The IOOF was officially founded with the Washington Lodge No. 1 in Baltimore, Maryland in 1819, which set in place a more formal method of operation and organization for the order.  At the time of the Lodge’s founding, Baltimore was suffering from a yellow fever epidemic and, in response to this specific need, their first objectives were to « visit the sick, relieve the distress, bury the dead and educate the orphans. »  As time progressed, however, their motto became that of friendship, love and trust, commonly represented by the triple link.

Although the Washington Lodge received its charter from their parent order in England, the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows, in 1826 Manchester Unity granted an independent charter to the Grand Lodge of the United States.  The first lodges of Canada were established in Montreal in 1843 under the IOOF.  The first decade of Odd Fellow lodges in Canada was a time of accomplishment and flourishing, as the number of chartered lodges spread rapidly throughout much of the country.  This quick expansion with a peak of 28 lodges was followed by an equally rapid decline, however, so that there only eight active lodges remained by 1854, none of which were located in Quebec.

Nonetheless, the IOOF had continued to grow in the United States during this time while also becoming the first national fraternal order to include both men and women when the Rebekah Order was adopted in 1851, establishing the Rebekah Lodges of the IOOF.  Despite challenges faced by the Canadian lodges mid-century, they continued to grow into the 20th century.  Among the approximately 100 lodges country-wide in 1906, six lodges were in Quebec with three in the Eastern Townships (in Dunham, East Angus and Magog).

Into the 1910s, the IOOF in the Townships appears to have experienced new growth as a number of Lodges and Rebekah Lodges were founded around this time.  As with other fraternal organizations, the Lodges of the IOOF were involved with a wide variety of charitable works but, more uniquely, they also aimed to provide care for the elderly and orphans through the establishment of homes dedicated to their care.   Lodges in the Townships contributed to this objective with the establishment of the Edith Kathan Home I.O.O.F. for senior citizens in West Brome.   As with many similar organizations, membership in the I.O.O.F. has declined into the 21st century, resulting in the closure of a number of lodges.

Despite these challenges, however, the remaining Odd Fellows and Rebekahs in the Townships continue to persevere in their fundraising to help local homes, hospitals, and schools, as well as humanitarian organizations.

The colourful foliage does not lie: autumn has arrived in the Townships!  And with autumn, we are stepping in to the “eating” seasons as the fall and not-too-long-off winter are often filled with comfort food, holidays, gatherings of family and friends.  Thoughts of food preoccupied my quest for an article subject this week and, as a result, I bring to you the community cookbook, examples of which can be found in the archives.

While most of us are familiar with cookbooks, less familiar may be the recipe books contributed to by a local group in the community.  In the early 1900s, these recipe books were often put together by women’s groups, such as the Women’s Institute or a church group.  One of those in our collection is from the East Clifton Busy Bees, which was organized in 1914 as a teenage girls’ Sunday School class.  Early on the group’s aim was to teach sewing and have Bible studies but over time broadened their activities to helping with the Sunday School programs and bringing food to the sick and shut-ins.   In this context, the compilation of a cookbook fits right in.

Not only did these books contain family-favourite recipes, however, they also included what are now often referred to as “life hacks”: little everyday tips that make one’s life easier.  In the East Clifton Busy Bees Cook Book, they call them simply “hints.”  Need to get grass stains from clothes or keep your windshield dust-free?  They have tips for that!  Grass stains can be removed with molasses and a cut potato can help your windshield; who knew!?   To further ‘flavour’ to these little gems, the cookbooks also may have included jokes, which makes perusing the pages a delight today.

With the Townships’ local orchards in mind, abundant with glowing, fresh apples, I bring to you a recipe for Apple Jonathan, submitted by Eva Ellis to the Busy Bees cookbook:  Combine 3 cups apples, ½ cup brown sugar, ½ tsp. nutmeg in a bowl and then place at the bottom of a greased baking dish.  Then, cream ¼ cup shortening with ½ cup sugar brown, followed by adding 1/3 tsp. vanilla, 1 egg (beaten), 1 tbsp. orange juice, 1 cup pastry flour.  Drop by spoonful on top of the apples and bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes.  Bon appetit!