The Brant Historical Society finished this season of walking tours on Nov. 7, ending another year with little student turnout.
Dressed as a Great War Canadian civilian, Brian Moore led this year’s final walking tour. The crowd had 13 members, most of them older locals and members of the Brant Historical Society. However, there were two students and a mother with her newborn to bring diversity to the tour group. According to Moore to have that many students coming out is rare.
“It’s interesting because there is a distinct lack of the age group between early high school through to, I would say, late parenthood.” Said Moore.
For the past four years Moore, a volunteer for the Brant Historical Society, has been giving walking tours through different parts of the City of Brantford. Each week the tour has a new theme, such as a “Murder, Mystery, & Mayhem” tour around Halloween or the final tour, “Monuments & Memorials”, that highlighted some of downtown Brantford’s war memorials before Remembrance Day (including the cenotaph where the Remembrance Day ceremony was held). Moore hopes to organize a walk for one of Laurier Brantford’s history courses in the future.
For $20 a year, students are able to gain access to the Brant Historical Society’s research facilities, and gives them free access to their events (like the walking tours). Most students who buy memberships are interested in research, or doing interviews for coursework. While there is a discounted price for students, most members are from Nippissing rather than History majors.
“There’s quite a bit of student involvement,” said Nathan Etherington, Program Co-ordinator for the Brant Historical Society. “We always have Nippissing students, which is one of the sad parts of Nippissing leaving. Students often come in and contribute here either working with the collection, doing their own research for an article or you journalism students come in here quite often actually to ask us about things going on. You are engaging with the downtown, and that’s why we’re here, we’re part of the downtown.”
While these students do not show up to any of the public tours, some find other ways to get involved with Brantford’s history. For the past three years Laurier International has worked with Moore and the Brant Historical Society to organize their own tour for first year international students. The students that join in the tours are given a lesson on the history of Brantford, why it was settled, and how it has become the city it is today.
“The walks are part of the community orientation that we do for international students every year,” said Peter Donahue, Associate Director of International Student Support, “and we want the international students to get a sense of the history of Brantford. That’s crucial I think for settling and integrating into a community.”
Moore believes that students, or anyone, moving into the community can benefit from learning about Brantford’s history. On the surface, someone moving here would not realize the fact Brantford was a metropolis in 1900 and was producing as much as Toronto.
The walking tours are set to start their next season in April.