Belle Vue

Native burial found at Belle Vue in 1892

 

(Editor’s Note: This is the seventh 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

 

Little is known about the gravesite found at Belle Vue in 1892 by Perry Barclay Leighton. The exact location was never documented like a modern-day archaeologist would. Little was written in the Amherstburg Echo at the time. This was an accidental find by the owner. P. B. Leighton was a farmer, a real estate agent, an amateur “Antiquarian” and the owner of Belle Vue.

The first mention in the Amherstburg Echo was on 2 December 1892.

“The Indian relics found on the water lot of P. B. Leighton, some months ago, have been mounted by Mr. Leighton and are on exhibition at his office on Murray Street. D. H. Price, of Aylmer, a collector of Indian relics, was greatly taken up with these and considers them of great value. “

Over the years, the location of the burial was lost, but another article has clues. June 23rd, 1893, “While grading the bank opposite his residence, a few years ago, Mr. Leighton unearthed the remains of a dusky warrior of one hundred and fifty years ago, with all his accoutrements of war, religious symbols and fashionable adornments of that period.” Of all the 1,800 different pieces found, the most important were “a large solid silver cross 11 ½ by 8 ½ inches” and “a copper coin of 1736.”

A postcard of the Belle Vue shows the place from the Detroit River with the stones in front.

A postcard of the Belle Vue shows the place from the Detroit River with the stones in front.

The cross showed that the person was of high rank, possibly a chief of some tribe in the area. The coin gives us a clue to the burial time, which would have happened after 1736. But the coin is no longer among the artifacts of Leighton’s collection.

Again, the article of 1893 gives us a clue as to where the coin disappeared. “Mr. Leighton has not made a collection of old coins. In this respect, he yields the palm to his townsmen William S. and Frank M. Falls.” So most likely he gave the coin to them.

A lot of Perry Leighton’s collection was purchased by George MacDonald who donated his collection to the Windsor Community Museum. That is where the cross is now located.

As to the original burial ground location, there is a post card of Belle Vue from the river showing a sloping grade from the road to the river. Within the grass are white stones spelling out the name “Belle Vue”. Somewhere in that slope would have been the location of the burial. Since that time, the Mullen family have also changed the waterfront slope and added a little boat well. With all these changes, the exact spot is lost.

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 amherstburg.ca/donate to help us open up Belle Vue once again!

Belle Vue gardens get face-lift last weekend

 

By Jolene Perron

When word about the Communities in Bloom judges coming to Amherstburg spread, the Belle Vue Conservancy put the call out to gather the troops and clean up the historical site.

“Belle Vue is on the tour,” explained chair of cooperate outreach for the Belle Vue Conservancy Linda Jackson. “So consequently we need to make a showing and this is the town’s property. We reached out to people like Maxine and the Horticultural Society and this is the end result, I can not believe what is happening here. We are trying to do as much as we can, focusing on the front first and getting rid of all the weeds, all the overgrowth.”

The Belle Vue Conservancy and Horticultural Society of Amherstburg banded together over the weekend to clean up the outside of Belle Vue.

The Belle Vue Conservancy and Horticultural Society of Amherstburg banded together over the weekend to clean up the outside of Belle Vue.

Jackson explained she called the Horticultural Society of Amherstburg’s treasurer Maxine Iler on Wednesday, and by Saturday morning they had an army of people ready to get to work, weeding, cleaning, trimming and spreading mulch at the Belle Vue property.

Gyori Farms even donated six yards of mulch to help beautify the outside of the building.

Not only were members of the Belle Vue Conservancy on site on the weekend, but members of Amherstburg’s Horticultural Society also came out to help clean up the site.

Not only were members of the Belle Vue Conservancy on site on the weekend, but members of Amherstburg’s Horticultural Society also came out to help clean up the site.

“We just love to help do things that help to make this town more beautiful and this is certainly a great opportunity for us to do that,” said Iler. “We’re very happy to see all the people who came out, ready to help.”

They didn’t have any plans to plant anything yet. Jackson said the town has plans for Belle Vue in the future, so for now they just focused on cleaning up the outside of the building.

Not only were members of the Belle Vue Conservancy on site on the weekend, but members of Amherstburg’s Horticultural Society also came out to help clean up the site.

Not only were members of the Belle Vue Conservancy on site on the weekend, but members of Amherstburg’s Horticultural Society also came out to help clean up the site.

“Please get behind us and help us open Belle Vue’s doors again,” said Jackson. “That’s what it’s all about, honestly.”

For those interested in learning more about the Belle Vue project, visit www.bellevueconservancy.com. To donate, visit www.amherstburg.ca/donate.

Uncle’s love of history, roots at Belle Vue led to $100,000 donation

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The contracts have been officially signed and the cheque has been officially turned over.

The $100,000 cheque presentation from the Gatfield Family Foundation to the Belle Vue Conservancy took place on the front porch of Belle Vue last Friday morning. The donation was made by brothers John and Joe Gatfield, nephews of the late Father Ted Gatfield, and trustee with the BMO trust Lisa Mazurek with a main floor dining room to be named for the foundation.

It was originally announced last week.

“This is something that meant a lot to our uncle,” said John.

John added that one of the missions of the foundation is to preserve Amherstburg’s history, adding there is also a family connection to Belle Vue through Father Ted’s great-great grandfather.

The Gatfield Family Foundation made its $100,000  donation official last Friday morning. From left: CAO John Miceli, trustee with BMO Lisa Mazurek, John Gatfield, Belle Vue Conservancy director of  corporate outreach Linda Jackson and Joe Gatfield.

The Gatfield Family Foundation made its $100,000
donation official last Friday morning. From left: CAO John Miceli, trustee with BMO Lisa Mazurek, John Gatfield, Belle Vue Conservancy director of
corporate outreach Linda Jackson and Joe Gatfield.

“The Gatfield family has been in Amherstburg forever, so it seems,” he said. “We, as a family, are very pleased to help out.”
Noting that Father Ted would tell stories of playing as a child at Belle Vue, John said “we think he’d be very pleased that we are doing this.”

Members of the Belle Vue Conservancy and town administration were smiling before, during and after the presentation and John said their uncle would be pleased with that.

“He’d be happy to see the smiles on everyone’s faces here,” said John. “He’s smiling as well.”

John said they heard about Belle Vue and the goal of restoring it and the foundation discussed helping out. That led to a meeting with conservancy president Shirley Curson-Prue, treasurer Michael Prue and corporate outreach chair Linda Jackson. That meeting led to the Gatfield Family Foundation wanting “to do our part” to help save the 200-year-old town-owned Dalhousie St. mansion.

John Miceli, Amherstburg’s chief administrative officer (CAO), said that town council adopted a community strategic plan in the summer of 2016 which provided strategic direction for the town based on a community shared vision.

“Belle Vue was a key consideration identified by our residents in developing that shared vision,” said Miceli. “The historical and cultural significance of this tremendous property was recognized by our community and identified as a pillar of investment going forward.

The CAO stated that Belle Vue is “part of our past, our present and our future” and expressed thanks to the Gatfield family for the $100,000 donation.

John Gatfield, Joe Gatfield and trustee Lisa Mazurek sign the contracts which officially transferred $100,000 from the Gatfield Family Foundation to the Belle Vue Conservancy. The conservancy raises funds on behalf of the town of Amherstburg to restore Belle Vue, the historic home at 525 Dalhousie St.

John Gatfield, Joe Gatfield and trustee Lisa Mazurek sign the contracts which officially transferred $100,000 from the Gatfield Family Foundation to the Belle Vue Conservancy. The conservancy raises funds on behalf of the town of Amherstburg to restore Belle Vue, the historic home at 525 Dalhousie St.

“We are writing a new chapter in the story of Amherstburg and Belle Vue will play an important part in this novel to come,” said Miceli. “This partnership between the Gatfield Family Foundation, the Belle Vue Conservancy and the town of Amherstburg is just the beginning. This partnership emphasizes that. I am extremely excited as together, we continue to write the story of how this once endangered significantly historical property in Amherstburg was saved by a community that was unwilling to let it go and how we came together with the help of groups such as the Gatfield Family Foundation to restore this national treasure for the benefit of generations to come.”

The hope is that the $100,000 donation will lead to more donations with Michael Prue stating the town is doing well in the “This Place Matters” competition. Donations are also being accepted at www.amherstburg.ca/donate. Prue added they continue to seek donations from organizations and businesses.

A gala is also being planned as a major fundraiser Sept. 24.

The Belle Vue Conservancy, which is raising money on the town’s behalf for Belle Vue, is awaiting word whether the federal government will give them a grant for up to $1 million, a figure that would have to be matched.

“All of us together can do it!” Prue stated.

Belle Vue in running to win $40K in “This Place Matters” contest

 

Special to the RTT

Belle Vue is in the running to win $40,000 in “This Place Matters” Competition

The competition is heating up!

“To everyone who has shown support for Belle Vue, the 200 year old National Historic Site in Amherstburg, now is the time to step up and Vote! Vote! Vote!” urges Linda Jackson, Chair of corporate outreach for the Belle Vue Conservancy.

Here are the Conservancy’s most recent standings:

Second place in the generic vote section, these are the votes minus the number of dollars donated. They can win $10,000 for the most generic votes.

Second place in the Central Region for total votes. Should they win in this category they will add $30,000 to their coffers to help restore Belle Vue.

Belle Vue, circa 1984

Belle Vue, circa 1984

This is how you can help:

Both generic votes and donations drive this contest.

Simply register your e-mail address at www.thisplacematters.ca and vote every 24 hours for ‘Belle Vue House – A clear view for the future’. Once registered, add any additional emails you have and vote every 24 hours using multiple emails.

Ask others to register and vote. Voting is free. With every vote watch the count rise!

Share on Facebook and any social sites you have encouraging others to vote. Link is https://thisplacematters.ca/

You can also boost the count by donating. For each dollar that you donate you will purchase one vote for Belle Vue. $1 = 1 vote. Tax donation receipts are issued automatically and sent to your email. All monies raised from donations are returned to Belle Vue at the end of the competition less a National Trust administration fee.

Belle Vue, modern day

Belle Vue, modern day

This is the last week of competition. The contest ends July 17 at 12 noon.

“This is a prestigious nation-wide competition put on by The National Trust for Canada. It involves 25 vetted participants all across Canada.” says Jackson. “Let’s show our pride in Windsor and Essex County by providing support for our National Historic Treasure, Belle Vue.”

For additional information regarding Belle Vue please visit the Conservancy at www.bellevueconservancy.com.

 

Gatfield Family Foundation to donate $100,000 to Belle Vue

Special to the RTT

The Amherstburg Belle Vue House National Historic Site will be receiving a major boost towards restoration efforts thanks to a $100,000 donation from The Gatfield Family Foundation.

Belle Vue was recently listed as one of the top 10 endangered properties in Canada by Heritage Canada National Trust.

The Gatfield Family Foundation will be presented with the naming rights to the main floor “dining room” in recognition of their generous donation. The dining room is one of five major rooms on the main floor to be named as part of the $1 million Phase 1 fundraising goal for the Town of Amherstburg and the Belle Vue Conservancy, the latter being a not for profit, volunteer committee.

“The Gatfield Family Foundation is pleased to support such an important Amherstburg heritage project such as the Belle Vue NHS restoration,” said John Gatfield a trustee of The Gatfield Family Foundation.

The Belle Vue Conservancy is thrilled to receive the donation.

belle-vue5

“We are absolutely thrilled to have The Gatfield Family Foundation partner with us,” exclaimed Michael Prue, treasurer of the Belle Vue Conservancy. “It is hoped that this major contribution will persuade others to support our efforts and those of the Town of Amherstburg in opening the doors of Belle Vue.“

The cheque presentation by The Gatfield Family Foundation to the Belle Vue Conservancy will be next Friday at 11 a.m. at Belle Vue, 525 Dalhousie St.

For more information on donating and obtaining a tax receipt, please visit www.bellevueconservancy.com or www.amherstburg.ca/donate.

Belle Vue is also in the “This Place Matters” contest where the top prize is $60,000. People can donate through that site as well with each dollar pledged equaling a vote. People can also vote without making a donation. Registering an e-mail is free and people can use as many e-mails as they have. Visit www.thisplacematters.ca/project/open-belle-vues-doors to vote.

The “This Place Matters” online competition runs through July 17.