What's New - December 22, 2018
Glance back at 2018
The past year has been very busy and lots of fun. We started with Rural Roots in February, which was very well received and very satsifying to do. It gave me a chance to bring out my own family history a bit, since it was topical. I want to thank everyone who provided pictures and stories. Oh, yes, keep an eye out for the video version of Rural Roots which will be available on the BDA web site and at Brighton History Open House 2019, Saturday, February 23, 2019.
My second book, 38 Hours To Montreal, was released at the end of June and the activities ramped up for several months in support of that. Highlights were my participation as a vendor in Word on the Street in Toronto in September and being Guest Historian at Scadding Cabin during the CNE. Of course, a couple of Sundays at Codrington Market represent my best sales days, hands down. Speaking events continue where this unique story is told and books are sold. The really cool thing now is that people are telling me how much they enjoyed the book. Everybody takes something different from it and are keen to talk. As an author, that never gets old.
Looking Forward to 2019
For the early part of 2019, The History Guy has two primary jobs to focus on. First, the History Open House on February 23rd. This year we decided to have a really good Open House and skip doing a show. I know some folks will be disappointed at this but, it was the best approach this year. Sometimes we just have to compromise in order to stay healthy and happy.
The second major job to focus on is research for my third book. I have decided that my third attempt at a history book will deal with the old familiar story of the sinking of H.M.S. Speedy. This is an iconic story for Brighton and area, in fact it is an important part of our heritage landscape. Therefore, I felt a modern version of the story was in order. It is early stages but I am deep inside the research as we speak and very excited about the potential for this story. Stay tuned!
Charles Selleck of Newcastle
The first work I do in preparing to write a book is to build the family trees of the people involved in the story. At the very least I need to document the context of each person both in their own family group and in the community where they lived. Along this line, I have recently done a bunch of work on the Selleck family, focussing on Charles Selleck.
Charles Selleck brought his young family to settle on Presqu'ile Point in 1802 and was made custodian of the new courthouse and jail building that the government had built on the bay side in that same year. He had married Elizabeth Gibson, a daughter of George Gibson, a fellow mariner who came to live at Presqu'ile at the same time.
There are numerous trees on ancestry.ca that show this Charles Selleck to be part of a large clan that goes back to Stamford, Connecticut, as far back as the middle of the 1600s when the colonies along the eastern seaboard were being settled by Europeans. They were seafaring folks, many of them famous traders or smugglers, take your pick. It seems that Charles Selleck came by his mariner heritage quite naturally.
Crown Grant from 1803
In Brighton we recently had the joy of seeing a very old document donated to the municipality. Bud and Jill Guertin owned the original copy of a Crown Grant from 1803 and wanted to donate it to Brighton. They worked with the Brighton Digital Archives folks and the document was mounted in a large picture frame. This was handed over to the Mayor at a council meeting on December 18, 2018. Thanks Bud and Jill!
The transcription of this historic document shows that it was a Crown Grant signed December 3, 1803 by the Lieut. Governor of Upper Canada, General Peter Hunter. It grants one acre of land, which it states is mostly under water, to Charles Selleck, with the explicit provision that, within three years, he build a wharf on this land to accommodate the ships that were coming to Presqu'ile Bay to unload people and goods. The last paragraph also says that one seventh of an acre is set aside for "a Protestant Clergy", something we can see on the plan of Newcastle that was made at the time of the first survey in 1797.
The significance of this document goes beyond the powerful fact that it has survived in good shape for more than two centuries. It aso tells us of the incremental steps that were being taken by the government in York to make the new county town of Newcastle into a viable and active commercial and governmental centre.
Charles Selleck would build the wharf in the spring of 1804 and it would have been the destination for H.M.S. Speedy in October the same year. Unfortunately, the Speedy never arrived at the wharf and the disaster that befell the ship and the passengers as well as the struggling colony of Upper Canada, would, within a few months, lead to the removal of county town status from the town of Newcastle. Any dreams of an important town on Presqu'ile Point were dashed and the history of this area would be changed forever.