WINDSOR, N.S. – The main video may be complete, but local filmmaker Timothy Reed is just getting started.
As part of the Canada 150 celebrations last year, Reed endeavored to capture some aspects of the area’s history in a video project titled A History of the Avon Region, which was commissioned by the West Hants Historical Society and financed by the province.
Reed interviewed John Wilson, a past president of the WHHS, along with Jim Bremner, whose family has a long history in the area, along with several other community members and historians.
The video, which is approximately 30 minutes long, covers much of the history leading up to the First World War – the Acadians, the deportation, the New England Planters, and more.
“One of the interesting things I’ve learned from this is that Windsor always picks itself up from the bad times - the big fire of 1897, it rebuilt itself; the big fire of 1924, it rebuilt itself,” Reed said.
“I’m brand new here, I’ve only been here four years, but it’s really interesting to see what’s going on now with the re-energization and rebuilding of Windsor. There’s a history of that.”
Reed said one of the aspects of the region’s history that surprised him the most was learning that many Acadians left the region ahead of the expulsion, knowing that something was going to happen as the British continued to take control of the region.
“Everything seems cut so black and white with the Acadians, but it’s not that easy, there are so many grey areas,” he said. “They were in many ways caught in the middle, between different empires, and did the best they could.”
Wilson, who is the past-president of the West Hants Historical Society, was excited to be a part of the project.
“We have a lot of history here, but it’s in written form,” Wilson said. “In a lot of ways, the technology has overtaken us, people don’t read as much as they used to.”
Wilson said the WHHS has done a lot to digitize as many of their records as they can in recent years, but said narrative projects, like Reed’s, are ways to capture the public’s imagination.
Reed said he’s hoping more people will be able to see it in the near future via a YouTube campaign.
Reed’s not done yet. Although the main project is complete and can be watched now, filming is continuing on the next phase.
“There were three holes that I didn’t have enough time to fill the first time around,” Reed said. “First Nations history, the African Nova Scotia history in this and also the Jewish Legion.”
He’s interviewing Bob Dimock, whose father was the former mayor of Windsor, and received a letter from David Ben-Gurion, who was stationed in Windsor as part of the Jewish Legion before becoming the first Prime Minister of Israel.
“We’re going to keep adding to this, keep it alive,” he said.
Dimock, whose family has a storied connection to the region, said he was happy to share what information he had to keep the history alive.
“History itself is supposed to be shared, that’s my dad’s theory and it’s mine too,” Dimock said.
“My dad would take me to the top of Fort Edward and explain to me all of the various armies that had been there over time, the river routes and the Acadians, and the soldiers from the First and Second World War that camped there."
His father also shared the story of the Jewish Legion and how that was formed, he said.
“We walked through that area, and a lot of the land that was the camp was land that my grandfather would cultivate as well because his farm was right on the corner of O’Brien and King Street," Dimock recalled.
Read more about the Jewish Legion here:
Dimock said his father wrote a letter to Ben-Gurion and they corresponded back and forth about Ben-Gurion’s visit to Windsor when he was a soldier with the Jewish Legion.
“What’s pivotal is that Ben-Gurion had no interest at the time in accepting any leadership offer and they convinced him that he had leadership capabilities, so he accepted a promotion,” he said. “He obviously kept going up the ladder to become the first Prime Minister of Israel.”
Dimock said he’s hopeful that the Jewish Legion memorial, currently planned for near the Fort Edward site, will bring a lot of interest to this part of the town’s history.
“People from all over the world will come here to see a part of their heritage,” he said.