Friday, July 8, 2011

Members Welcome - for a year or for life

Revitalization of Wesleyville Village Gains Lifelong Support

It’s 2011 and the spirit of a former village on Lakeshore Road at Wesleyville has completely changed. It is now much more than a nostalgic Port Hope legend, due to the efforts of about 150 volunteer members of the Friends of Wesleyville Village (FOWV). These folks from across Canada are working to preserve the heritage of the Village, recapture and bring to life its history and give this and future generations an opportunity to enjoy the spirit of true community.

Rod Stewart and his wife, Masumi Suzuki, are the first life members of the Friends of Wesleyville Village. Rod was actually the member who suggested this fund-raising idea in support of Wesleyville Village preservation and revitalization. The FOWV currently have two families as life-time members (at $1,000) and about 150 annual members (at $20 per person or $35 for a family). Contact membership chair Roz Farber at (905) 885-1575 or e-mail to join the "Friends" and support village restoration efforts.

The next event planned for Wesleyville Village is Evensong with Bellringers. Everyone is invited to gather at the Church on Wednesday, July 13 at 4.00 P.M. to enjoy this beautiful service directed by Randy Mills and Elizabeth Barlow, with members of the St. Mark's Junior Choir and Bellringers.

Before the “Friends” organization was officially formed in 2009, the future of the village looked bleak. By later that year, the FOWV had negotiated a 20-year lease on the Wesleyville Church from the United Church of Canada. Tasks outlined in the first 5 years of the lease were accomplished in 2010 – including the huge job of relocating the bats, removing the accumulated toxic guano and urine and re-installing the ceiling. Without a major donation from the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO), Port Hope Branch, and assistance from Cameco Corporation this milestone in the restoration of the Church could not have been achieved.

At the recent Ontario Heritage Conference in Cobourg, FOWV Chair, Kathryn McHolm, and Secretary, Blake Holton, spoke of the reasons for initiating the FOWV, the ground-breaking lease with the United Church of Canada and the return of the community spirit. Conference attendees were among the 20 or so people who then toured the Wesleyville Church and the village on Sunday June 5th. All visitors were impressed with the restoration progress made in just a year and a half.

What a success the Martyn Joseph concert at the Church April 1st was!  Great music, warm vibrations and lots of new members. Thanks to Lee Batchelor, Ontario Power Generation, Unitrak Corporation and many volunteers, about $1,600 was raised.

As confirmed by members at the first Annual General Meeting and members workshop in March, the FOWV will focus its efforts in 2011 on the Church by completing the window and masonry repairs, making the downstairs useable and planning for washroom and accessibility facility installations. Chair, Kathryn McHolm, points with pride to the initial accomplishments. “Last year we were successful in making the Church useable for community events such as the Martyn Joseph concert, harvest festivals, art exhibitions, weddings and other creative events”. The AGM confirmed the FOWV vision and objectives and produced many new ideas for fund-raising and events.

Members at the AGM heard that not only has the FOWV achieved almost all our goals for the first five years of Church restoration but the treasury is in the black. Mary Trevor, Treasurer, is proud of the organization’s pay-as-you-go fiscal policy.  “We started off 2010 with just over $3,600 as a result of the previous year’s fund raising events and finished 2010 with just over $8,000 in the bank. Along the way we managed to attract donations of $30,000, which exactly matched our restoration and general expenses” she reported.

For More Information: - Sue Stickley, Communications Chair (905) 885-1344

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