50th Reunion Cancelled – For Now

I hope everyone is safe and well in these strange times.

As many of you are now aware, the 50th Reunion Celebrations for June 2020 will not be happening due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The Committee had no real choice since the City of Burlington has placed a ban on all public events until the end of June. Furthermore, the uncertainty around how long the outbreak will last made planning for the fall much too tricky. So, it is now a matter of waiting for life to return to normal.

I want to thank the Committee for allowing me to participate in the planning process of the 50th Reunion Celebrations. As a relatively late addition, I appreciate all the countless hours of effort and work that occurred before I joined the Committee. Unlike the 25th Reunion that was organized and supported by the School, the 50th Reunion was led by a small group of alumni volunteers who believed that Elgin meant something to a lot of people and deserved a celebration.

I am also involved with the Robert Bateman Artifacts Committee, which is cataloguing objects that are associated with the School and its precessors (Elgin and General Brock). The work has come to a halt with the closure of the Schools. Hopefully, I will have a chance to get back into the School and help complete the work of the Committee.

I find it hard to believe RBHS will re-open for the students to complete their final term before closing. I feel sorry the students; I remember how important those last months before graduation were to me and being able to start the transition to my next stage in life. I really can’t see how the students will get a chance to say a proper goodbye. While it is not Elgin, it still an extraordinary place. Far superior to Nelson.

Moving forward, I will continue to research and promote Elgin history here on this page. I also will continue to work on my art project (Elizabeth Gardens Community Art Project) that is explores how memory and landscape come together in East Burlington.

Memory-History-Art-Memory

In 1818, Artist Theodore Gericault (1791-1824) started creating a massive painting entitled the Raft of the Medusa.

The painting depicts the moment when a sailor spots a ship in the far distance, and that ensured the survivor’s survival. The real life incident created an international scandal because 147 sailors had managed to get onto the raft, but after 13 days at sea, only 15 men made it home.

How do we know this story?

We know the story of the Medusa from what the sailors told other people and eventually from the painting that Gericault created. The Sailor’s memory of the incident may be very different from those who read about it in the newspapers or later when viewing in the painting.

The act of sharing your memories by telling a story, writing a text or creating an image means changing the essence of what you experienced.

Does this mean it is not real?

No, but it means it is not valid in an absolute sense. However, history is no different; a historian has to pick and choose what information to relate to their audience, with something deleted. The historian may back up his claims with evidence from the time and say it happened, but is it still based on a partial truth.

So, whose’s history and why?

We only recall or save the memories that have meaning for us today. Once recorded, then people who come after us have a chance to encounter and appreciate those earlier experiences.

For example, why would anyone care about a shipwreck that occurred over 200 years ago, other than the fact that there is this massive painting in the Louvre and launched the art movement: Romanticism.

What we choose to remember and what we choose to call history is very subjective and is always decided by outside forces.

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Lord Elgin High School 50th Reunion – June 20th

Former students of Lord Elgin High School (1970 to 2004) will be holding their 50th Reunion celebration on June 20th, 2020 at the Burlington Polish Hall (2316 Fairview Street, Burlington, Ontario L7R 2E4) from 7:00 pm to 1:00 am. Tickets will go on sale February 15th, 2020 on the Eventbrite web site, $30.00 per ticket.

here is the link to the Eventbrite website:

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New Year -New Stories

Townline, East Burlington, 1961

In 50 years, what would you want people to know about your life?

We take for granted that the commonplace will always remain the mundane. With global warming, will my children or grandchildren know winters like the ones we had as kids? With millions of people moving into the GTA, will open fields and vast blue skies still be something you can experience?


The Elizabeth Gardens Community Art Project is my effort to translate your memories, photos, and experiences into artwork. The goal is to collect as many of your pictures and stories as possible. And find the common elements that tell the history of East Burlington. I am interested in hearing from people who lived or worked in the area. In particular, the space between the Lake and the highway; and between the Burloak Drive and Apply Line.


I expect the project to take at least two years to complete. My goal is to create a body of artwork that will first be displayed in the community and then later shown at a regional art gallery like the Art of Burlington.


At the moment, my particular focus is the local high school (RBHS/LEHS), which will be closing in June 2020. Given the tight time frame, I would love to hear your stories about this unique institution while the school is still operating. There is a difference in telling stories about the present versus the past.


I can be reached by most types of social media or by email.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, Sept 4th, 1959 – Elizabeth Gardens Public School open its doors for the very first time.

There are many ways to mark the birth of a community: first settlers(1812), breaking ground for new subdivisions (1956); or when Burlington annexed Nelson Township in 1958.


In my view, the heart of a community is a school, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s, when the entire project of building homes was for new families. Elizabeth Gardens even predates the opening of the St. Elizabeth’s Anglican Church, which held its first services at the school.


As I ready to send my kids off to a small elementary school with declining enrollment, parents in 1959 faced a different reality. Burlington’s public elementary schools were expecting 7,730 students; a 1,000 student increased from Sept 1958, and the Board hired 260 teachers.

The original Elizabeth Gardens was only the front section of the building. With a surging student population, the Board quickly decided to build a rear extension, and it open two years later.


In the meantime, subdivisions continued to spread west and north, with the Prospect Gardens subdivision opening its model home during the summer of 1959. However, for a brief moment in time, the community of Elizabeth Gardens was the center of the world.

In many ways, the birth of Elizabeth Gardens also marked the birth of modern Burlington.


Happy Birthday everyone.

Wanted: Your Stories

Wanted: Your Photos, Stories, and Oral Histories

EGphoto01d

The Elizabeth Gardens Community Art Project is an artistic effort to capture the growth and change that has occurred in one community from the early 1950s to the present. The area under study is bounded by Lakeshore Road, QEW, Burloak Drive, and Appleby Line.

The Project’s aim is to collect photos, stories and oral histories from current and former residents and business owners.  Using these reference materials, a body of art work will be created (informed by a sense place, meaning, and identity).

Once completed, the goal is to display the art within the community and then at a regional art gallery.  At the end of the project, original reference materials (photos, written documents, and oral histories) will be donated to an archive collection (if possible) in order to preserve the community’s history.

The EGArtProject website will be the primary source for updates.

If you are interested in participating in this project then please send me an email at fcsdstudio@gmail.com.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Chris Erskine, Artist