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Author launches new historical work in Southampton
by Sandy Lindsay

October 6, 2016
www.saugeentimes.com

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George A. Calder with his latest book
Saugeen:  A Fine Speculation of a Probable Harbour

It was solicitor George Calder's love of history that lead him to become an author, now with two historical books to his credit.

Calder's first work was a history of William Kennedy, one of the founding 'fathers' of Southampton (Ontario).

"I got interested in William Kennedy and his life approximately a year ago, because I had been following for years the Franklin Expedition and recently the search for his two boats in the Arctic.  I knew a little bit about Kennedy from reading John Weichel's work here in Southampton.  What fascinated me about Kenney was that he was one of the two 'white' founders of Southampton in 1848. He didn't stay here very long because Lady Franklin wanted him to go back to England and take an expedition to look for her husband, which he did.  She knew about him because he was born in Cumberland House in Saskatchewan and, as a child he met Franklin who was doing an overland expedition.  Kennedy's father was the factor of one of the Hudson's Bay posts and he had married an Indian woman, so that made William Kennedy a Métis.  He was also the only Canadian to be involved in the expeditions trying to find Franklin and later his ships."

Calder went on to explain that it was his keen interest in Kennedy that lead him to discovering the Métis office in Southampton.  "After several discussions with Patsy (McArthur) of the Historic Saugeen Métis Interpretive Centre, and after reading a slight reference to a company, the Saugeen Harbour Company, I discovered that there wasn't much known about it."

That's when he began delving into intensive research to find out more.  The result is Calder's most recent book, 'Saugeen: A Fine Speculation of a Probable Harbour', an intensive and extensive history of Southampton and its harbour.  It was officially  launched at a book signing on Tuesday, October 4th at the Historic Saugeen Métis Interpretive Centre in Southampton.

Calder uncovered names long known to the area, names such as McNabb, after Alexander McNabb, and even Sir Sandford Fleming, who was a surveyor in 1851 and who came back in 1853 and purchased 400 acres in Southampton.  He and others wanted to get the Harbour Company going and thought, if they could build an extensive harbour, it would increase the value of their land.  Such was not to be.

"Something I also found fascinating," said Calder in an aside, "was that, when Sir Sandford Fleming returned to Southampton in 1853, he and his survey crew camped out on Chantry Island for three or four days."

As part of his ongoing intensive search for details, Calder spent countless hours at the Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre Archives and even went back in time to search the Minutes of the Provincial Legislature.

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For anyone with an interest in Southampton and the history of the area, Calder's book is a must read. 

It is a piece of Southampton's history and is available, along with the story of William Kennedy, at the Historic Saugeen Métis Interpretive Centre at High and Albert Streets in Southampton or can be ordered at: saugeenmetis@bmts.com or by calling: 519-483-4000


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