Thursday June 28, 2012

GREAT BARRINGTON -- A cadre of Canadian dignitaries came to the Berkshires in December to take part in the closing ceremonies of the town’s 250th anniversary celebration. Next month, the favor will be returned.

A group is preparing to travel to Ingersoll, Ontario, on Aug. 10 for a weekend visit intended to strengthen the budding relationships between these two towns who share a past.

Ingersoll, some 90 miles southwest of Tor onto, was founded by a group of Massachu setts pioneers. It was later named after a former Great Barrington resident, Thomas Ingersoll.

The trip to Canada is being coordinated by the Great Barrington Historical Society, the Friends of Laura Ingersoll Secord group in Queens town, Ontario, and the town of Ingersoll.

The visitors from the Berkshires will visit the Laura Ingersoll Secord homestead in Queenstown. They’ll also take part in tours of various historic sites in Ingersoll and receive a key to the town.

"I think it’s going to be a lot of fun," said Gary Leveille of the Great Barrington Historical Society and Great Barrington Historic Commission.

Leveille said less than a dozen locals agreed to take the trip, and the group mostly consists of history enthusiasts. He hopes town officials can be part of the trip and said anyone interested can email the historical society at gbhs@bcn.net.

In December, a group of more than 15 visitors from Oxford County and Ingersoll, including the mayor and county warden, came to learn about Great Barrington and explore their roots.


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A collection of artifacts tied to those early pioneers of Upper Canada (now the province of Ontario) were presented to the visitors, but the group invited the Great Barrington contingent to Canada to present the materials to a local museum in person.

"Because of great interest they showed," said Leveille, "it’ll be very interesting to see the area that, really, Great Barrington left Great Barrington to settle."

Thomas Ingersoll’s eldest daughter, Laura Ingersoll Secord, is remembered as a Canadian heroine for her role in the War of 1812, when she took great pains to warn the British of an impending American attack on Upper Canada.

A plaque of Secord can be found on the grounds of the Mason Library, and several of those with ties to Ingersoll are buried in town. Beyond the early connections, there was little contact between the two communities until the lead-up to these reciprocal visits.

To reach Trevor Jones:
tjones@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6214.
Follow him on Twitter: @BE_TrevorJones.