Michael Prue

Whelan family donates $20,000 to the Belle Vue Conservancy

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Whelan name will continue to live on thanks a donation to the Belle Vue Conservancy.

The daughters of Eugene and Elizabeth Whelan presented the Belle Vue Conservancy with a cheque for $20,000 last Thursday morning. Susan and Terry were in attendance but their sister Cathy was unable to attend.

Both Eugene and Susan served as the area’s Member of Parliament with Eugene serving from 1962-84 and Susan from 1993-2004.

Eugene also served as a Canadian senator from 1996-99.

The Belle Vue Conservancy and town officials accept the $20,000 donation from the Whelan family Dec. 7.

“Our parents enjoyed, loved and respected history in Amherstburg and across the country,” said Susan.

Susan said it “takes vision and a lot of hard work and dedication” to help preserve historic buildings like Belle Vue. She said the family is grateful the town stepped up and purchased the 200-year-old Dalhousie St. mansion with the Whelan family’s donation to be recognized with a plaque near a window in the home’s pioneer kitchen.

“This is tremendous, not just for Amherstburg, but for people in Ontario and across Canada,” Susan said of Belle Vue. “It’s going to be a wonderful place to visit.”

Susan recalled going with the family to Belle Vue and other historic sites while her father was MP. Historic buildings are “part of Amherstburg’s beauty,” she added.

The family met with Linda Jackson, the Belle Vue Conservancy’s director of corporate outreach, several months ago and decided to proceed with the donation for the window dedication in their parents’ name. Susan said they hope it inspires other people and businesses to donate to the cause.

“Every dollar is helpful,” she said.

Michael Prue, treasurer for the Belle Vue Conservancy, expressed gratitude to the Whelan family for the donation. He said Eugene and Elizabeth helped put “Amherstburg and Essex County on the map,” adding “your family is amazing and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

“It’s quite a Christmas present,” he added.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo joins Susan Whelan and Terry Whelan in signing the official documentation in front of Belle Vue last Thursday morning to make the $20,000 donation official. The donation will result in Eugene and Elizabeth Whelan’s name being put on a plaque near a restored window in the pioneer kitchen.

Funds raised by the Belle Vue Conservancy are subsequently turned over to the Amherstburg Community Foundation, the charitable arm of the Town of Amherstburg.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo joined Terry and Susan Whelan in signing the official documentation to make the donation official.

DiCarlo said all donations made towards the restoration of Belle Vue are appreciated, but noted there is special meaning to this donation due to the Whelan family’s importance in Amherstburg.

“To have their name on this project, we are excited and proud,” said DiCarlo.

Jackson noted Eugene Whelan has a history of involvement with Belle Vue. That included facilitating a $156,000 loan in 1983 to help repair the home’s roof.

“Now their daughters are coming forward and continuing their legacy,” said Jackson.

For more information on the Belle Vue Conservancy, to volunteer or to donate, visit www.bellevueconservancy.com, e-mail info@bellevueconservancy.com or call 519-736-6947.

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 Conservancy receives boost from United Empire Loyalists

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

As the original builders of Belle Vue had Loyalist roots, this generation’s Loyalists are recognizing that.

Representatives of the Bicentennial Branch Essex-Kent of the United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada (UELAC) were at the historic 200-year-old Dalhousie St. home last Thursday morning to give the Belle Vue Conservancy a cheque for $5,000.

Michael Prue, the treasurer of the conservancy, thanked the UELAC branch for its donation.

Members of the Belle Vue Conservancy accept a $5,000 cheque from the Bicentennial Branch Essex-Kent of the United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada. The cheque presentation was made last Thursday morning with the funds being turned over to the Amherstburg Community Foundation. The foundation is the charitable arm of the town and money the conservancy raises for the town-owned building is put towards it.

Members of the Belle Vue Conservancy accept a $5,000 cheque from the Bicentennial Branch Essex-Kent of the United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada. The cheque presentation was made last Thursday morning with the funds being turned over to the Amherstburg Community Foundation. The foundation is the charitable arm of the town and money the conservancy raises for the town-owned building is put towards it.

“You are doing a great service to history and to the town,” he said.

Prue noted the conservancy is continuing to raise funds, with the aim of raising at least $1 million. They hope to land a $1 million federal grant to aid in the restoration of the building.

Other groups are also looking into making a donation, Prue added.

“We just keep going and going,” he said. “So far, between cash and in-kind (contributions), the conservancy has raised over $100,000.”

Dan WJJT Griffin UE, president of the Bicentennial Branch Essex-Kent of the United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada, noted this area of the province is heavily populated with people of Loyalist roots.

“The main reason (for the donation) is this is a vital part of our history,” said Griffin.

Robert Reynolds, owner and builder of Belle Vue, was the son of a Loyalist and his father Thomas Reynolds lost his land in Detroit and was forced to move to Amherstburg. People forced off their land in the U.S. fled to what is now Canada and rebuilt their lives and, as British refugees, the government gave them free land to repay them for their loyalty. UE stands for “Unity of the Empire.”

“(The Reynolds) were a family that put money into this beautiful building,” said Griffin.

The future plans for Belle Vue will be part of back-to-back meetings presented by the town. There will be an “informal public consultation meeting” June 15 in the Libro Centre’s community room with the Duffy’s property to be discussed from 5-7 p.m. and Belle Vue from 7-9 p.m.

Belle Vue golf tournament raises over $10,000

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Bright, sunny skies greeted the golfers who hit the links in support of restoring the 200-year-old Belle Vue property.

The Belle Vue Conservancy held its first golf tournament, entitled “Bogies and Birdies for Belle Vue,” May 13 at Sutton Creek Golf Club in McGregor. Approximately 90 golfers hit the links for the tournament, including dignitaries. Those dignitaries included Essex MPP Taras Natyshak, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, fire chief Bruce Montone, retired fire chief Al Reaume and Councillor Leo Meloche among others. The Amherstburg Police Service also entered a team.

“It’s pretty good for a first tournament,” said golf tournament organizer and Belle Vue Conservancy member Meg Reiner. “It’s perfect weather. You never know when it’s early May.”

The Belle Vue Conservancy presented a cheque of over $10,000 to the Amherstburg Community Foundation last Thursday afternoon.

The Belle Vue Conservancy presented a cheque of over $10,000 to the Amherstburg Community Foundation last Thursday afternoon.

Now, two weeks later, the money has been counted and total proceeds from the tournament have amounted to $10,080.59.

Michael Prue, the conservancy’s treasurer, credited Reiner for her work in organizing the tournament.

“Meg, her family and her friends put a lot of effort into this cause,” said Prue. “She pulled it off. Meg and her friends are responsible for (the total).”

Reiner said some of the teams dressed in 1920’s style attire, with prizes for the best dressed. She said a large number of businesses helped out by donating door prizes for the tournament.

“The businesses were very supportive,” said Reiner. “We’re doing a silent auction.”

Golfers not only came from the Amherstburg area, Reiner added, as she noted some came in from Windsor as well.

Jacob Kelterborn, Jeff Kelterborn, Brad Nelson and Tom Wigle were the winners of the tournament.

Prue added that the conservancy was thankful for all of the tournament’s sponsors, a major one being Families First Funeral Home. He also thanked Sutton Creek for their efforts in hosting the tournament.

The Belle Vue Conservancy also publicly updated how much it has risen now that the golf tournament proceeds are known. Counting in-kind contributions, the conservancy has raised over $100,000 towards its $1 million goal.

“There’s more to come,” said Prue.

The conservancy also has plans for the fall, but has not released details as of yet.

“We’re planning for a huge event in September,” said Prue. “We’ll leave you in suspense for now.”

Jacob Kelterborn, Jeff Kelterborn, Brad Nelson and Tom Wigle were the winners of the Belle Vue golf tournament.

Jacob Kelterborn, Jeff Kelterborn, Brad Nelson and Tom Wigle were the winners of the Belle Vue golf tournament.

DiCarlo joked at last Thursday afternoon’s cheque presentation that he was likely the most surprised that his team used his shot once during the best ball tournament. He also pointed out that he sank a putt.

On a serious note, the mayor told conservancy members “as a municipality, we are so lucky to have you all. We are so lucky to have people like you.”

Without people like the volunteers in the conservancy, the mayor continued, there would be no hope to restore the Belle Vue house.

“I keep telling people this is going to become a reality and that we’re going to do it,” said DiCarlo.

The cheque was presented by the conservancy to the Amherstburg Community Foundation. The foundation is the charitable arm of the town, with town treasurer Justin Rousseau stating that it is “nice to see people coming together to make the Belle Vue house a reality for everyone.”

Online donations for the restoration of Belle Vue can be made at www.amherstburg.ca/donate.

 

Doll museum makes $20,000 donation towards Belle Vue restoration

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Shaanti International Museum of Costumes and Dolls has stepped forward to help the Belle Vue Conservancy.

The doll museum, which is currently operating out of the Malden Community & Cultural Centre located at 7860 County Road 20, officially presented a cheque for $20,000 to the conservancy last Thursday morning on Belle Vue’s front porch.

The donation is the first under the conservancy’s sponsorship program and the $20,000 will result in a window being named for the Shaanti International Museum of Costumes and Dolls.

Michael Prue, treasurer of the Belle Vue Conservancy, said the donation from the doll museum has been the largest to date and hopes it inspires other individuals and companies to step forward.

“This property can be restored to the way it was,” said Prue. “It won’t take very long with donations like this.”

The Palladian-style architecture is rare in Canada, with Prue citing a Nova Scotia government building as the only other example.

The Shaantii International Museum of Costumes and Dolls made a $20,000 donation to the Belle Vue Conservancy last Thursday and will get naming rights to a window. From left: Conservancy treasurer Michael Prue, Conservancy president Shirley Curson-Prue, museum secretary/treasurer Raj Varma, museum board member Nancy Morand, museum vice president Ivan Robich and Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale.

The Shaantii International Museum of Costumes and Dolls made a $20,000 donation to the Belle Vue Conservancy last Thursday and will get naming rights to a window. From left: Conservancy treasurer Michael Prue, Conservancy president Shirley Curson-Prue, museum secretary/treasurer Raj Varma, museum board member Nancy Morand, museum vice president Ivan Robich and Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale.

“I am looking forward to the day (Belle Vue) is open to the public and we can say with extreme pride that we are from Amherstburg and we’ve been able to do this,” he said.

“We’re making strides. We’re just not making huge strides yet,” said Shirley Curson-Prue, the president of the conservancy.

Other fundraisers are in the works, Curson-Prue noted, and said artist Peter Rindlisbacher is working on the painting that will hang in the Belle Vue and be reproduced for public sale. Rindlisbacher’s involvement was announced last year.

More donations are in the works, she added, but can’t be announced just yet.

The doll museum raised its money largely through bingos and Raj Varma, secretary/treasurer with the museum, indicated they would like to see Belle Vue as a “destination point in Amherstburg.”

Their own museum contains rare dolls and costumes with Varma stating “the museum is very unique in North America.” The collection features dolls from all over the globe with board vice president Ivan Robich adding the collection is valued at $500,000.

“A lot of the dolls have come from private collections,” said Robich.

The Shaanti International Museum of Costumes and Dolls came to Amherstburg with the assistance of the town’s tourism department after several stops in Windsor. Robich believes it was a “Godsend” they were able to located at the Malden Community & Cultural Centre, which is also known as “the Little White Church.”

Nancy Morand, a director with the museum’s board, added her belief that the relationship has been “mutually beneficial” to the town and the museum. It is open Saturdays from 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. during the Amherstburg Farmers Market season, which starts this Saturday. The museum is also open for private tours by calling 519-839-4237.

The doll museum could have some sort of presence at Belle Vue, through an exhibit or a display, but the future use of the property still appears to be focused on a conference centre type facility. Public consultation is yet to come with future uses to be discussed during those talks.

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale thanked the doll museum for its donation.

“It’s donations like these that bring us closer to opening Belle Vue,” said DiPasquale. “We hope this encourages others to make donations so we can open these doors as soon as possible.”