Retracing Major Andrew Thompson’s Steps With WWI Maps

On November 10, 2016, Map Specialist Gord Beck from McMaster University’s Lloyd Reeds Map Collection in Mills Memorial Library delivered a standout presentation to a captivated audience.

His talk was called “Back to the Front 100 Years Later: Retracing the Steps of A. R. Thompson Using WWI Trench Maps” and a highly detailed Powerpoint accompanied his remarks.

Given the time of year with Remembrance Day falling on Saturday, November 11, 2017 in a few short days, Ruthven Park staff have worked to provide the wider public with access to this remarkable presentation in honour of the Thompson family members and all of those in Haldimand County who fought in WWI.

The slideshow has been converted to a PDF document and Gord Beck’s excellent notes have been embedded into the pages so that readers can follow along easily.

The document will have a permanent home on the “History” page of this website, but we will also share it here below so you can download a copy to your computer or electronic device directly from this blog post.

Back to the Front 100 Years Later Presentation by Gord Beck – click to download

A special thank you to Gord for making this presentation available to Ruthven Park staff and for giving his talk in the first place! It’s not every day that you get to feel as though you’re walking beside someone on the front lines of history, and Gord has made this possible.

For those interested in World War history looking to commemorate this year’s Remembrance Day on Saturday, please join us for our “Remembrance Day at Ruthven Park” afternoon event starting at 1:00pm, featuring a tour of the Thompson Family Mansion, a fantastic talk by Dr. Marty Wood on the Thompson women’s involvement in WWI, and an acclaimed performance of “From Ruthven to Passchendaele” by Studio Babette Puppet Theatre. You can read more about the event by clicking here.

November 2017 Newsletter

Dear members and friends,

The beautiful month of October has come and gone, and it was such a busy month that we didn’t manage to prepare a newsletter for you until this week when activities quieted down on site!

November is a time to remember and reflect as we commemorate Remembrance Day and the brave people who gave their lives in wars throughout history. To view our November 2017 newsletter, simply click on the link below in this blog post and download the PDF to your computer or device. Inside, you’ll find a photo recap of what happened here in October, a call for Grey Rat Snake box volunteers, a summary of owl banding activities from a last year, and much more. We hope you enjoy reading it, and do pass along your comments and questions to when you’re finished reading.

We hope to see you here soon for our Remembrance Day at Ruthven Park event or one of the Christmas events we’re planning for December (see the last page of the November newsletter)!

November 2017 Newsletter

All the best,

Ruthven Park staff

Remembrance Day At Ruthven Park

The public is invited to an afternoon Remembrance Day event at Ruthven Park with a special focus on World War One this year.

All ages are welcome. Though all activities will be held indoors, we suggest visitors dress for the weather in case they would like to explore the site’s 5 km of trails before or after the event.

The schedule for the afternoon will be as follows:

1:00 pm – Tour of the beautiful 1840s Thompson Family Mansion
2:00 pm – Presentation by Dr. Marty Wood entitled “The Thompson Women in the Great War: 1914-1918”
3:00 pm – Studio Babette Puppet Theatre performance of “From Ruthven to Passchendaele” (read a review of the performance here!)

Scheduled activities for this event will wrap up around 4:00 pm.

Cameras are welcome (and encouraged!) and the Hollyhock Gift Shop will be open in the Thompson Family Mansion, featuring items and books related to the Canadian military for interested shoppers.

We look forward to seeing you here for our feature November event!

Mark Your Calendar

Date: Saturday, November 11, 2017
Time: 1:00pm – 4:00pm
Tickets/RSVP: No
Cost: Regular admission rates apply to tour; talk and performance by donation
Address: 243 Haldimand Highway 54, Cayuga, Ontario, N0A 1E0
Location: the Thompson Family Mansion and the Coach House (map available at Ruthven Park entrance)

Three Upcoming Events Commemorating the Centenary of Passchendaele

2017 is a special year for a number of reasons, one being that the 100th anniversary – also known as a centenary – of the Battle of Passchendaele in WWI falls on this year.

Ruthven Park National Historic Site has a special connection to this particular battle as a member of the Thompson family who lived on the property fought and was injured in the melee. Major Andrew Ruthven Thompson was critically injured by gunfire at Passchendaele. Thankfully, he eventually recovered and returned home to Canada.

Staff are proud to announce that three events happening on site this month will commemorate and honour this battle and the sacrifices made by the Canadians who fought at Passchendaele. They are listed in chronological order below.

Lower Grand River Land Trust Annual General Meeting: Speaker Professor G. Hayes Presentation “Passchendaele and Canada: A Century On”

Date: Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Time: 7:00pm
Tickets/RSVP: No
Cost: Free
Address: 243 Haldimand Highway 54, Cayuga, Ontario, N0A 1E0
Location: Ruthven Park’s Coach House
Description: Professor Geoffrey Hayes teaches in the Department of History at the University of Waterloo. He describes his presentation as follows: “The Battle of Passchendaele has become deeply embedded in the popular imagination. This talk explores the context of the battle from a Canadian perspective. What Canadians too often forget is how this costly battle formed a background to two of the most dramatic events in Canadian history.” The Land Trust’s AGM will follow, and members of the public are welcome to stay for the remainder of the evening.

Passchendaele Commemoration Event

Date: Sunday, October 22, 2017
Time: 11:00am – 3:00pm
Tickets/RSVP: No
Cost: By Donation
Address: 243 Haldimand Highway 54, Cayuga, Ontario, N0A 1E0
Location: Ruthven Park’s Coach House and the grounds surrounding the building.
Description: This drop-in, rain or shine, all-ages event will feature three special guest partners. Members of the Canadian Great War Society will demonstrate trench wargare. Military Historian Andy Robertshaw will be on site to orchestrate drills and answer questions. At 1:00pm, Robert Land Academy students accompanied by a small band will present the Drum Head Service of Remembrance. This promises to be an excellent event that you won’t want to miss.

Military Historian Andy Robertshaw Presentation: “Eye Deep in Hell: The Experience of Passchendaele”

Date: Thursday, October 26, 2017
Time: 7:00pm
Tickets/RSVP: No
Cost: By Donation
Address: 243 Haldimand Highway 54, Cayuga, Ontario, N0A 1E0
Location: Ruthven Park’s Coach House and the grounds surrounding the building.
Description: Military Historian Andy Robertshaw returns to Ruthven Park once again for a presentation entitled “Eye Deep in Hell: The Experience of Passchendaele.” One of the UK’s most exciting military historians, Andy Robertshaw reveals what life was like on the frontline of history. Andy provides a unique, interactive illustration of military life to groups of all ages. He is a world-renowned expert on the First World War, and on trench warfare, in particular. He has worked on countless projects such as the films “War Horse” (2011) and “Wonder Woman” (2017). We look forward to welcoming Andy back and we hope you can join us for what promises to be a memorable evening.

Ruthven’s For The Birds Festival 2017

Ruthven Park National Historic Site’s annual birding festival returns for another year of high-flying fun and excitement! This all-ages drop-in event will offer something for everyone, and will take place rain or shine. Children’s activities and refreshments will be available throughout the event.

Ruthven is proud to be part of the Haldimand Bird Observatory and is one of 26 sites that make up the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network. This festival is a highly-anticipated celebration of birding activities here each year. The theme for 2017 will be “Ornithology in Canada: Past, Present, and Future.”

The schedule for the day will be as follows:

7:30 am – Ruthven Park’s bird banding station will be open at dawn for “early birds” and the beginning of bird banding for the day.
11:00 am – The Canadian Raptor Conservancy will give an awe-inspiring presentation!
12:00 pm – Bird banding will begin to wrap up.
1:00 pm – A panel of experts will speak on the past, present, and future of birding in Canada.

We are thrilled to announce our expert speakers:

Dr. Robert Montgomerie, Department of Biology, Queen’s University
Much of the early history of ornithology in Canada involved Arctic exploration. Drawing on reports from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, Dr. Montgomerie will tell stories about a half dozen expeditions to the Canadian Arctic that enriched our knowledge of birds and ornithology. Early expeditions searched for minerals and a northwest passage to the orient but often involved naturalists who studied birds along the way. Later expeditions simply wanted to find out where some poorly known species bred or to document the natural histories of uncharted territory where no European had ever traveled. Early naturalists and explorers in the Canadian Arctic often endured unimaginable hardship and tragedy in the pursuit of adventure and knowledge about the world and its wildlife. At the very least we should honour their memory by continuing to protect our natural heritage in the north.
Dr. Montgomerie is Professor and Research Chair in Evolutionary Biology at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. He has studied birds around the world for more than 50 years, including a 15-year research project on several bird species breeding on the Melville Peninsula, Nunavut. He studies reproductive behaviour, mate choice and plumage colours in birds, but also writes about and conducts research in the history of ornithology. In 2014 he was a coauthor of “Ten Thousand Birds: Ornithology since Darwin,” a highly acclaimed book on the recent history of ornithology, and has written a chapter on the history of ornithology of Nunavut for a forthcoming book on the birds of Nunavut.

Rick Ludkin, Ruthven Park Bander-in-Charge
Rick has been a major driving force behind the success of Ruthven’s birding efforts for over two decades. He has inspired generations of passionate birders and hosts dedicated groups of volunteers throughout the seasons who come not only for the exceptional birding experience at Ruthven, but to benefit from his incredible expertise. Whether his audience is made up of 4, 44, or 94-year-olds, Rick can inspire a love of birds in anyone. On a nearly daily basis during the heavy workload of the spring and fall migratory seasons, during which time birders are banding at Ruthven each morning, he reports the activities of the day on the banding station’s much-enjoyed Nature Blog, Each post always has great anecdotes and beautiful pictures to accompany them. In the off-seasons of summer and winter, Rick still finds ways to be involved in birding, even climbing aboard ocean-trawling ships to study birds at sea as he did this past summer. In his portion of the presentation, Rick will provide an update and overview of recent and current birding activities at Ruthven Park.

Stuart MacKenzie, Bird Studies Canada
Motus (; latin for movement) is a hemispheric wildlife tracking system using automated radio telemetry with a purpose to facilitate landscape-scale research and education on the ecology and conservation of migratory animals. Motus allows researchers to track the movements of radio-tagged birds, bats and insects throughout the land and seascape with amazing precision. Motus is a program of Bird Studies Canada (BSC) in partnership with collaborating researchers and organizations. The current Motus array comprises over 350 stations across the Western Hemisphere operated by more than 150 collaborators that have tagged more than 10,000 animals of more than 100 species. Some of the largest barriers to effective conservation and management of migratory animals is our ability to determine the importance of various landscapes and how they are utilized throughout their annual cycle. Our landscape includes numerous geographic (e.g. Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes, Mountains) and anthropogenic features (major urban centers, industrial, utility and transportation infrastructure) that might influence migratory animals use of and movement through the landscape. Gaining a better understanding of these processes will help decision-makers and other stake holders make informed and ecologically sound decisions with regards to wildlife management, policy, and regulation. Join Stuart to learn about the program and discuss some preliminary results.
Stuart has been exploring the natural world since the age of 2. He is currently the Migration Program Manager at Bird Studies Canada overseeing the Motus Wildlife Tracking System and Long Point Bird Observatory. He is the current president of the Ontario Bird Banding Association and Chair of the North American Banding Council.

Mark Your Calendar!

Date: Saturday, October 21, 2017
Time: 7:30am – 3:00pm
Tickets/RSVP: No
Cost: By Donation
Address: 243 Haldimand Highway 54, Cayuga, Ontario, N0A 1E0
Location: Different locations throughout Ruthven Park, with the Bird Banding Station as the main event hub (map available at Ruthven Park entrance)

This initiative is made possible by the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th, a collaboration between Canadian community foundations, the Government of Canada, and extraordinary leaders from coast to coast to coast.

Winter 2018 Hours of Operation

The Gate House: office open Mon – Fri, 9:00am to 5:00pm

The Grounds: open Mon – Fri, 9:00am to 5:00pm

The Mansion: tours by appointment Mon – Fri for 6+ people

Contact Us:
Phone: (905) 772-0560 
Toll-free: (877) 705-7275

Mailing Address: 
243 Haldimand Hwy. #54,
Box 610
Cayuga, ON N0A 1E0