Belle Vue Conservancy

Belle Vue Conservancy brings community together with yard sale



By Jolene Perron


Over the weekend, the front lawn of Belle Vue was filled with old teacups, paintings, jewelry and other donated things by the community to assist the Belle Vue conservancy in raising more money for the restoration.

The Sept. 16-17 yard sale at Belle Vue raised $5,049.20.

“We put forward a notice to the community to ask them to please donate because we wanted to do this as a fundraiser for Belle Vue and we were absolutely thrilled at the number of people that brought things to us and the number of things that they brought,” explained conservancy member Shirley Curson-Prue. “We had really excellent response to that which made us very happy and then we set it up most of Thursday and Friday, and then started the sale this morning.”

Curson-Prue explained how some donations didn’t even make it to the sales floor, but instead will be going right into the house. One was a pump organ, which Curson-Prue said was in pristine condition and it more than 100 years old. Another item was a press machine, which was used in the 1930s by servants in big houses to press the tablecloths.

The Sept. 16-17 yard sale at Belle Vue raised $5,049.20.

The conservancy would like to thank everyone who not only donated items, but who came out to the yard sale and purchased items and made donations.

The Belle Vue Conservancy posted on its Facebook page Tuesday evening, after the Sept. 13 print issue of the River Town Times went to press, that the yard sale raised $5,049.20.

Their next event is the “Puttin’ on the Ritz” fashion gala at Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery Sept. 24. For information, visit

John G. Mullen Family and Belle Vue


(Editor’s Note: This is the eighth in a series of articles by historian/genealogist Debra Honor regarding the Belle Vue house and its history. Honor is a member of the Belle Vue Conservancy.)


By Debra Honor UE, PLCGS


John Gallagher Mullen came to Amherstburg as an employee for a Cleveland Ohio coal company. Three years later, he bought out the coal company share in Amherstburg and started the Mullen Coal Company that had docks in Amherstburg and Sandwich to service the steamships on the Great Lakes. His docks at Amherstburg were large enough to fuel two steamships at the same time.

John G. Mullen

His office was an old fire hall on Dalhousie St. heated by a potbellied stove with the second floor used by himself and his friends to play poker. When he opened the office, he took the key and threw it into the river, stating that his office would never be important enough to be locked. Many nights, homeless men would find a warm place to sleep and never was anything in the office touched.

John G. Mullen was a philanthropist. Once he caught a needy man from town carrying a couple of bags of coal in a wheel barrow. Mr. Mullen responded, “Why didn’t you come to me and ask for coal? I never want anyone in town to be cold.”

In the 1870’s, John G. Mullen was involved in other new technologies such as the Great North Western Telegraph Company. By 1892, Mullen, along with Colin Wigle, John A. Auld, and W.D. McEvoy started the first commercial electric plant supplying electricity for the street lights and to those families who could afford it. He also ran for mayor for four years and was successful in 1893, 1894 and 1896.

The Mullen family undertook several renovations to the Belle Vue house, including adding the front portico to the home. Belle Vue is located at 525 Dalhousie St. in Amherstburg.

In 1927, St. John the Baptist Church was building a new vestry and the Mullen family pledged ten to twenty thousand dollars.

For about 45 years, the Mullen family lived at the old Gordon House. In 1925, at the age of 77, John and Isabella Mullen, bought Belle Vue. It took the family three years to remodel it into the house we now see. They removed most of the Italianate style William Johnston added in the 1870’s and added the gazebo at the end, the front portico and the little dock down by the water. Though John G. Mullen passed away in 1930, his wife and children lived in the house until 1944 when Mrs. Mullen passed away.

Please support our fundraising campaign. One hundred per cent of your contribution will be used for restoration of the Belle Vue House. You will receive a full tax receipt and a Belle Vue gift. Visit to help us open up Belle Vue once again!

Two more fundraisers planned by Belle Vue Conservancy


By Ron Giofu


The Belle Vue Conservancy has two more fundraisers planned for the month of September.

The first is a yard sale that is planned for the same weekend as the WE Harvest Festival – Sept. 9-10. The yard sale will be on the front yard of the 200-year-old Belle Vue house, located at 525 Dalhousie St. and it will run from 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. both days.

Shirley Curson-Prue, president of the Belle Vue Conservancy, said they will be accepting donations Sept. 7 at Belle Vue from 12-8 p.m.

“What we’re looking for are things that are collectable, vintage and retro,” said Curson-Prue.

Curson-Prue emphasized that all items are donated, including some items donated by her and husband Michael, who is also a conservancy member. She added some items that will be part of the yard sale will include dinnerware, pots and pans, and vintage and antique items.

“They are not from the (Belle Vue) house,” she said. “They are individual, separate donations.”

There will be no fabrics or clothing, she added.

Curson-Prue added there are a number of volunteers helping out.

“It should be a good event,” said Curson-Prue. “We promised that every penny saved, every penny earned, is going into the house which is what we’ve been doing all along.”

For more information on the yard sale, please call 519-736-6947.

The Belle Vue Conservancy has a new logo, designed and donated by local artist Elio Del Col.

The Belle Vue Conservancy has a new logo, designed and donated by local artist Elio Del Col.

The Belle Vue Conservancy is also putting on a fashion gala entitled “Puttin’ on the Ritz” and that will be held Sept. 24 at Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery, located at 7258 County Road 50. Curson-Prue said tickets for that event are going well, as she estimated roughly 75 per cent of the tickets have been sold thus far.

The gala will feature both men’s and women’s fashion, with the clothing being from A La Mode and 67 Richmond. The evening will also include a five-course meal prepared by Smashed Apple Gourmet Catering.

There will be a cocktail hour, silent and live auctions and live entertainment from the jazz ensemble Michael Karloff, Ray Manzerolle and Mike Kabouk.

Tickets for the gala are $150 with a tax donation receipt of $50. They are available at A La Mode, 67 Richmond and the Gordon House.

For more information on the gala, contact Curson-Prue at 519-736-6947 or Linda Jackson at 226-345-0628. People can also visit and click on the “Events” tab.

Seasons chips in with donation to Belle Vue



By RTT Staff


Seasons Amherstburg has done its part to try and restore the 200-year-old Belle Vue property.

The local retirement home presented the Belle Vue Conservancy a cheque for $811 last Friday afternoon. Linda Jackson, chair of the conservancy’s corporate outreach, said it is a national historic site that is two centuries old and that Seasons has helped out in the past.

Jackson pointed out that Robert and Debra Honor, also conservancy members, have presented information sessions at Seasons regarding the Belle Vue property. She added Seasons is a silver sponsor for the Sept. 24 “Puttin’ on the Ritz” gala being held for Belle Vue at Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery.

Staff and residents from Seasons present a cheque for $811 to the Belle Vue Conservancy and Amherstburg Community Foundation last Friday afternoon.

Staff and residents from Seasons present a cheque for $811 to the Belle Vue Conservancy and Amherstburg Community Foundation last Friday afternoon.

“We can’t thank you enough for all of your help,” Jackson told Seasons staff.

Rick Daly, manager of programming and development with the town of Amherstburg, represented the Amherstburg Community Foundation and thanked Seasons staff and residents for their generosity as well.

Heather Vandenham, leasing manager at Seasons Amherstburg, said the money was raised at the retirement community’s Canada Day festivities.

“There were raffles and donations made through that event,” said Vandenham.

Many Seasons residents remember Belle Vue from some of its former uses and they would like to see it used again.

“They grew up here,” she said. “They love this community as much as we do.”

Seasons also tries to keep history alive through its residents, Vandenham added, and that residents want to keep history alive in Amherstburg.

To make a donation, people can visit

Belle Vue wins $10,000 in “This Place Matters” contest


By RTT Staff


The restoration of the Belle Vue property is a step closer thanks to the National Trust for Canada.

The trust’s “This Place Matters” online competition has concluded and the Belle Vue project – entered into the contest as “Belle Vue House – A Clear View into the Future by the Belle Vue Conservancy” – won the Community Builder prize and the $10,000 that goes with it. Results were announced Monday.

“Dozens of people in Amherstburg and beyond demonstrated the importance of this building to our past and to our future by voting every day to support the project,” said Shirley Curson-Prue, president of the Belle Vue Conservancy. “We are humbled by their commitment and very appreciative of the outcome of winning $10,000 which I understand is to be used to support the windows project. Thanks to everyone who voted!”

A look at Belle Vue, as seen July 2017. (Photo by Paul Hertel)

A look at Belle Vue, as seen July 2017. (Photo by Paul Hertel)

“Your votes really mattered,” added Anne Rota, the town’s manager of tourism and culture. “People who voted each and every day should be extremely proud. The Community Builder Prize was for the most number of votes on a national level! We couldn’t have done this without everyone’s dedication to vote every single day!”

The National Trust announced eight winning projects that participated in its 2017 “This Place Matters” national crowdfunding competition.

The Big Projects National Prize ($60,000) was won by Windows into the Future by First United Church (Truro, NS)

The Big Projects Regional-West Prize ($30,000) was won by Spirit of the Lyric by Lyric Theatre (Swift Current, SK) while the Big Projects Regional-Central Prize ($30,000) went to Keep Our Light Shining by PPLPS (Brighton, ON).

The Big Projects Regional-East Prize ($30,000) was won by the Union Art Project by Sir William Ford Coaker Heritage Foundation (Port Union, NL).

The Small Projects National Prize ($30,000) was captured by Spencerville Riverside Park by Spencerville Mill Foundation (Spencerville, ON) while the Small Projects Regional-Central Prize ($15,000) was won by Top off the Petrie by Architectural Conservancy Ontario Guelph Wellington Branch (Guelph, ON)

The Small Projects Regional-East Prize ($15,000) went to  Glenaladale… One Brick at a Time, Our Diamond in the Rough by Glenaladale Heritage Trust (Tracadie, PE).

Twenty-five participating project groups from coast to coast competed from June 14 to July 20 for Canadians’ votes and donations.

“At the close of five weeks of intense competition, the National Trust is deeply grateful for Canadians’ enthusiasm and generosity. ‘This Place Matters 2017’ raised awareness and much needed dollars for Canada’s historic places,” said Natalie Bull, executive director. “Our sincere congratulations and thanks go out to the community groups championing all 25 projects. Along with the prizes awarded, each project is a winner as they’ve all raised funds to help regenerate beloved community places that matter.”

The goal of the National Trust’s “This Place Matters” competition is to bring together community partners and community members to breathe new life into historic places across Canada.