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By Wendy Gabrek
The Museum on the Boyne Advisory Committee honoured Mr. Franz Aschwanden for his contribution to heritage in South Simcoe during this year's Wall of Honour ceremony on Saturday, May 5.
The Museum on the Boyne's Wall of Honour pays tribute to people who value local history and work to preserve and promote it.
Prior to the start of the ceremony, Town of New Tecumseth Mayor Rick Milne, called for a moment of silence in honour of the late Ralph Wilding, the former Town Crier and Museum Advisory Committee member.
Mr. Wilding, a long-time Tottenham resident, passed away Sunday, April 29.
“The bell has been silenced,” said Milne, of Ralph's Town Crier bell. “We thank Ralph for everything he's done for our Town, especially the community of Tottenham.”
Comprised of members from New Tecumseth, Adjala–Tosorontio, Essa Township, Innisfil, and Bradford/West Gwillimbury, the MOB Advisory Committee began its Wall of Honour in 2003.
For Mr. Aschwanden's ceremony, past recipients Mary Munnoch and Dave Chambers were present to show their support.
Representing the Town of New Tecumseth, along with Mayor Milne, was Deputy Mayor Donna Jebb, and ward councillors JJ Paul Whiteside and Fran Sainsbury.
From the community of Bradford/West Gwillimbury, Mayor Rob Keffer was on hand with a few of his councillors, to bring congratulations to Mr. Aschwanden.
“Franz is a very unique and talented person,” said Mayor Keffer. “This is quite the recognition for Franz, who has quite the sense of humour and is a friend to many. Franz helps our Mexican migrant workers and gets them bicycles so they can visit our town.”
MOB Advisory Committee president, Mrs. Jackie Baillie, introduced the board. They are: Scott Anderson – Adjala–Tosorontio, Cheryl Bryn – Essa Township, Stan Dario – Innisfil, Gary Lamb – Bradford/West Gwillimbury, and Fran Sainsbury – New Tec.
Mrs. June Chambers was next to speak. A forty plus year friend to Aschwanden, Chambers spoke highly of Franz's ability to inspire and excited through his own natural curiosity. She too cited his sense of humour.
“Franz would always say, ‘It's not a problem, it's a puzzle', when something got in his way,” said Chambers.
Chambers relayed how Aschwanden's trouble shooting helped the Heritage Committee.
“He made wooden boxes and filled them with information about our committee, and once fixed a camera to a long pole to get a glimpse into an attic of a heritage home,” said Chambers. “I am so happy and proud to have my wonderful friend, Franz, on the Wall of Honour.”
Mr. Aschwanden is a longtime and active member of the Tecumseth West Gwillimbury Historical Society, the Bradford West Gwillimbury Local History Association and the Bradford West Gwillimbury Heritage Committee, has contributed to several local history projects including organizing a tour of heritage homes, providing the cartography for the New Tecumseth history video “The New Town with a Long Past” and digitizing historic photographs for The Legacy of West Gwillimbury book.
Mr. Aschwanden's outstanding contribution to heritage in the community earned him a place on the Museum on the Boyne's Wall of Honour, however Franz felt the honour should be shared.
“Thank you for coming out my friends, members of council, Historical Society members, and my family,” he began. “I like this, but I don't know if I deserve it.”
Aschwanden went on to talk about the little things we all take for granted.
“I grew up in a town where I took many things for granted, and we all have that habit,” said Aschwanden.
The 42-year resident of South Simcoe said that sometimes things that appear not to be to special really are upon further inspection.
“A lot has changed – barns and fences are gone, the town is growing out and occupying more land,” he said. “So now it's important to take stock of what we have. Things need to be saved and repurposed. We need to save our rural schools and churches, and make space for more storage to keep things that would otherwise disappear.”
Aschwanden also thinks the Museum on the Boyne is deserving of a sister or daughter building.
“We need a place where things can be collected and once a month we should have a ‘Museum Day'. At the moment things are thrown out just because we don't know where to put them – like in the 1950s, when everything had to be shiny and new. What's left is precious.”
“I'm pleased to have received this award, and I'm taking it as part of a group effort,” said Aschwanden. “One day, you too may get a little older, or when next year rolls around the honour can keep moving along.”
For more information on the Wall of Honour or other events and programs, call 705 435-4030 ext.1802 or visit www.newtecumseth.ca
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