Heritage Hall opened it’s doors for the first time during the 2016. The idea to create a permanent home for history and heritage came about during the Fair’s bicentennial year (2011 to 2012) which was focused on the rich and colourful history of the longest continuous fair in Canada. You don’t have to spend much time in the Village of Williamstown or anywhere in Glengarry County to realize the significance of its history to Canada.
In 2017 the St. Lawrence Valley Agricultural Society celebrated Canada’s 150th anniversary throughout the fair weekend with Heritage Hall as the focal point of this celebration. We would like to thank the following organizations who helped us celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday: Glengarry Nor’Westers and Loyalist Museum, Sir John Johnson Manor House Committee, St. Andrew’s United Church Williamstown, the Williamstown Green Thumb Horticultural Society, Glengarry Celtic Music Hall of Fame, Glengarry Archives, Glengarry Agricultural Wall of Fame, Glengarry Sports Hall of Fame and the Glengarry Fencibles.
We hope to say many of our community partner organizations returning this year along with a few newcomers. All of these history and heritage organizations will be telling their stories, through exhibits and displays, to the many fairgoers who will come through our gates on the 2018 Fair weekend. Please take some time to visit Heritage Hall during the 2018 Fair and help us celebrate Glengarry’s rich history.
Friday 11am to 7pm
Saturday 10am to 1:30pm and 3pm to 7pm
Sunday 11am to 5pm
Sir John Johnson Manor House
Sir John Johnson named Williamstown after his father, Sir William Johnson. It was one of his settlements for the Loyalists. The site, on banks of the Raisin River (first named in French- Rivier Aux Raisin- river of the grapes for the abundance of wild grapes that once lined its shores), had been scouted out to be an excellent location to start a settlement. It was the right spot to build mills( grist mill and saw mill), the land was good and there was good timber. At this location Sir John was given a substantial grant of land for himself, which included the land on which the Village of Williamstown is located. On this property, sometime between 1784 and 1792, Sir John built, what is described as a one and a half story, five-bay log structure. He built a grist mill and a saw mill close by on the river in the same period. The mills were the economic centre of the community. The house was occupied by the overseer of the mill for at least part of Sir John’s ownership of the site. Before 1820, most likely 1818, the house and lands were purchased by Hugh McGillis, a retired fur trading partner. He continued to run the mills, and, in addition, developed the land agriculturally. Hugh McGillis was referred to as the Laird McGillis, and it is believed that at this time the house became known as the Manor House.By 1872 the last of two major additions had been made to the house. By this time Williamstown had grown with three churches and numerous businesses. The Manor House ceased being a family residence in 1956. The house was declared a place of national historic significance in 1961. From 1956 until 1971 the property was owned and occupied by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart. In 1971 the house was sold to Parks Canada and designated a national historic site. The house is currently occupied by the Sir John Johnson Manor House Committee.