Shirley Curson-Prue

Belle Vue Conservancy gives update to town council



By Ron Giofu


The Belle Vue Conservancy has given town council an update on their progress.

Conservancy president Shirley Curson-Prue appeared before town council at the Sept. 25 meeting to give elected officials, administration and the public more information on what has been collected through donations and other fundraising.

The information regarding cash-on-hand was as of Sept. 14 with that information showing that $115,946.23 had been received. A breakdown of that figure showed that $9,045 was collected through online donations while $60,936 came in through cheques. Other sources of revenue factored into the overall total included the $5,200 made from the WSO “Leading Notes” concert at Christ Church, the $8,000 raised from “Golf Birdies and Bogies” golf tournament and the $28,000-plus won in the National Trust for Canada’s “This Place Matters” online crowdfunding contest.

Other revenue collected by the Belle Vue Conservancy includes $9,861.80 in in-kind donations receipted, $5,049.20 from their recent yard sale, $90,600 in donation commitments and roughly $25,000 from the “Puttin’ on the Ritz” fashion gala at Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery.

Belle Vue Conservancy president Shirley Curson-Prue (left) addresses town council as treasurer Michael Prue holds the painting of Belle Vue done by artist Peter Rindlisbacher.

Curson-Prue pointed out additional funds will be raised through the sale of prints of Peter Rindlisbacher’s painting of the building and future fundraising efforts. She indicated there is a grant they are looking at applying for but noted the application deadline is Oct. 6.

Curson-Prue thanked the donors, town and River Town Times for their assistance in fundraising, and noted that the funds raised thus far could be put to use. She shared a motion from the conservancy’s Sept. 11 meeting which requested that money raised and deposited with the Amherstburg Community Foundation be used to repair the roof, clean out and repair eavestroughs, install solar lighting and cameras to deter trespassers, remove asbestos, repair “targeted windows” using $10,000 of the “This Place Matters” prize money, utilize pro bono cleanup and allow monthly cleanup of the grounds by staff and volunteers.

Councillor Joan Courtney praised the work of the conservancy and said they are working “non stop” on trying to restore the 200-year-old building.

“What you’ve achieved already is awe-inspiring,” said Curson-Prue.

Later in the meeting, concern was brought forth by residents about a possible roadway to Belle Vue from Sandwich St. S. CAO John Miceli said the roadway is conceptual at this point and that it has not been formally approved by council.

Miceli indicated that local projects, including Belle Vue, have to be looked at for what is good for the community as a whole. He added that the parking lot just south of the police station is still required for municipal business and that while it needs to be paved to live up to municipal bylaws, the site itself is not designated historical.

“The attractions that would have made it a heritage site were removed in the 1960’s,” said Miceli.

Sold out crowd “puts on the ritz” for Belle Vue



By Ron Giofu


A sold out crowd was at Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery Sunday evening for a five-course meal, fashion show and more all to help restore the historic Belle Vue house.

The Belle Vue Conservancy presented its “Puttin’ on the Ritz” gala with 185 tickets sold for the event. Early estimates have the event raising over $25,000.

“We’re just so grateful for everyone coming out to support the Belle Vue initiative. We can’t believe how many people have responded positively to our initiative and to our gala,” said conservancy member Linda Jackson, who also chaired the gala committee.

Nancy Greenaway was one of the models during Sunday evening’s fashion show that was featured as part of the “Puttin’ on the Ritz” fashion gala at Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery. It was a fundraiser for the Belle Vue Conservancy.

Jackson thanked the sponsors, including elite level sponsor Elite K9 Kennels. Gold sponsors were Desjardins Financial Security, Dollars & Cents Investments and Bellavance Nursery and Landscaping while the Cole Clinic, Amherstburg GMC Buick, Seasons Amherstburg and Bornais Insurance were silver sponsors.

“The appeal is it’s a wonderful venue and we hope people came out to raise money for the Belle Vue national historic site,” Jackson said at Sunday’s gala.

Jackson also credited Natalia Bezzoubkin of A La Mode and Peter Leardi of 67 Richmond St. for aiding with the evening’s fashion show while Renee King-Jackson, Michael Karloff and Michael Karoub provided musical entertainment. Smashed Apple Gourmet Catering prepared the five-course meal. She also thanked Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery for going “out of their way to help us.”

Lynne Fox takes her turn down the runway at the “Puttin’ on the Ritz” gala Sept. 24.

The Belle Vue Conservancy has people with numerous backgrounds helping out, she added.

“We work very diligently, we work very hard for Belle Vue,” stated Jackson. “We are fortunate in our conservancy to have a diversity of people.”

Shirley Curson-Prue, conservancy president and gala co-chair, called it a “fabulous” turnout.

Renee King-Jackson performs at “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”

“We’re trying to get into as many demographics as possible,” said Curson-Prue.

Curson-Prue said they want to involve more people as they continue to raise money.

Michael Prue, treasurer of the conservancy, said the community has pulled together for Belle Vue.

“I’m so proud of the community. I’m so proud of the people that are coming together for the house,” said Prue.

Among the attendees at last Sunday night’s gala were Cal Parent, Jack Edwards, Sandra Edwards and Linda Parent.

Prue said they are about one-third of the way to their $1 million goal and said the community is “helping us make a crown jewel for Amherstburg.”

To donate, visit or

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

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.

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.