Dogwoods a celebration of Norfolk County
Wesley Wilson, 18, of Walsh, was the recipient this week of the inaugural Dogwood Award for youth who are making a substantial contribution to culture and heritage in Norfolk County. (MONTE SONNENBERG Simcoe Reformer)
Wesley Wilson of Walsh is one of those lucky teenagers who has a clear idea of what he wants to do with his career.
When he was eight years old, Wilson’s grandmother took him to a cemetery to acquaint him with his ancestors and their exploits.
Among other adventures, there was the migration north of United Empire Loyalists from the United States after the Revolutionary War, forefathers who fought with Sir Isaac Brock during the War of 1812, and ancestors who had a front row seat for the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837.
“There is this desire to find out about my roots and who I am as an individual,” Wilson, 18, said Monday after receiving a Dogwood Award for his contribution to culture and heritage in Norfolk. “The story of my ancestors coming to Canada and establishing roots here absolutely fascinated me.
“It grew from there to wanting to solve the mysteries of Norfolk County’s past. I can’t stand being unable to solve the mysteries of the unknown. I just have to know.”
Wilson is the inaugural winner of the Dogwood in the newly-formed category for youth. He has logged more than 1,500 volunteer hours at the Backus Heritage Conservation Area and since January has been working on a co-op placement at the Waterford Heritage & Agricultural Museum.
“I predict a very bright future for you Wes,” Melissa Collver, Norfolk’s manager of heritage and culture, said as she introduced Wilson to the crowd at the Harbour Museum in Port Dover. “I won’t be a bit surprised to see you back here someday receiving a lifetime achievement award. Congratulations.”
Folk musician Ian Bell, of Waterford, was recognized with a lifetime achievement Dogwood for, among other things, the 15 years he logged as curator of the museum in Port Dover.
Collver cited a long list of achievements, including the part Bell played in securing the artifacts from the steamship Atlantic for the Harbour Museum, scoring numerous provincial grants for heritage programming in Port Dover, and skillfully using his musical talent to convey the interesting stories of Port Dover and Norfolk County’s past.
“Norfolk County is great,” Bell said. “Stories are thick on the ground here. Norfolk County is one of those places where you can do crazy stuff and people say `Yeah, that’s a good thing.’”
Also recognized Monday was Port Dover illusionist Lucas Wilson.
Wilson received the 2016 Dogwood for individual achievement for his ongoing contribution to local theatre programs and his entertaining appearances at the Norfolk County Fair & Horse Show, the Waterford Heritage & Agricultural Museum, the Lighthouse Festival Theatre and the Norfolk Musical Arts Festival in Simcoe.
Wilson, 26, expressed amazement that he would receive a prestigious award for doing something he loves.
“I really don’t deserve this,” he said. “I’m lucky to be doing what I’m doing.”
The Vittoria & District Foundation received the 2016 Dogwood for organizations that have made a substantial contribution to heritage and culture in Norfolk. In keeping with the spirit of the evening, the foundation turned over a cheque for $2,000 for programming at the Harbour Museum.
“We’re not in it for the recognition,” foundation representative Tom Haskett said. “We’re in it to support the community.”
The selection committee for the 9th annual Dogwood Awards consisted of representatives of the museum in Waterford, the Norfolk Arts Centre in Simcoe, the Ontario Tobacco Museum & Heritage Centre in Delhi, and the Harbour Museum in Port Dover.