Over the past seven years, the Austin Cultural Committee has been responsible for the research, writing, translation and design of eight brochures describing different aspects of the municipality’s history, ranging from churches to mills to, most recently, 17 of the public and private cemeteries scattered around the area. For example, not only did the Committee research and describe the current state of these cemeteries, many of them neglected, it has also organized a public information session and provided invaluable information on how to look after them, so that many of these historic sites can be restored or maintained.
Since the Austin area was originally settled mostly by descendants of the Loyalists, it can certainly be said with conviction that the work of the Committee has been outstanding in its long-term contribution to Anglophone heritage in Quebec. Moreover, by ensuring that all the brochures are published in both French and English, the Committee has reinforced ties of understanding between the two linguistic communities.
As its name implies, the Austin Cultural Committee’s mandate is to promote various forms of culture in the municipality and surrounding region, a particular challenge since many people are newcomers and much local history has been forgotten, The committee is now at work planning a new brochure, one which will propose short excursions linking many spots of historical interest. The documents as a whole will be used – indeed are being used – to gather public support for expanding these preservation efforts.
The brochures produced so far include:
- A History of Bolton Townships and the Municipality of Austin
- A biography of Lily Esther Butters
- A biography of Reginald Aubrey Fessenden
- A history of the Abbey of St.Benoît-du-lac
- A description of the arrival of the French in the Townships
- A tour of Austin’s churches, shedding light on the role of the Protestants who built most of them
- The forgotten village of Thompson’s Mills and Millington
- The Cemeteries of Austin