Héritage Sutton at 40 years
Official Héritage Sutton was born 40 years ago. It has since given the population years of research, documentation and writing about the History of Sutton.
The history of Sutton has never been written in one single book. It has been included in books like the History of Brome County by Rev. E.M. Taylor, the History of the Eastern Townships by C. Thomas and the Pioneers of the Eastern Townships and History of the Eastern Townships by Catherine Matilda Day.
In 1952, the Sesquicentennial of Sutton was celebrated with a large parade and numerous activities. A book to celebrate the one hundred and fifty years of the Township and the Village of Sutton was published in both languages. The book contains numerous articles about the history of Sutton, its people and its institutions before 1952. Following this publication, the ongoing history of Sutton is documented in numerous newspaper articles that document different events and activities. The minute books of the Town and the Township meetings also contain a volume of information which as time passes becomes a historical record of the Sutton area.
Until about 1980, many of the historical records of Sutton were preserved at the Brome County Historical Society (BCHS) and people wishing to consult the early documents and family histories had to do so in Knowlton. The BCHS, due to lack of space, were not accepting more documents to be stored and protected at that time.
Meanwhile in Sutton a lot of research about the local history was being carried out by people like Edmond Eberdt, Marc Clerk and later Dennis Cowan, Carol O’Brien, George Létourneau and others. The group soon realized that they needed a location where they could meet, work and store their documents. The building where the present museum is located was provided by Mr. Eberdt. There, they could meet regularly and store the increasing volume of documents and artifacts. In the previous years, the group of writers and researchers were called the Sutton Historical Society and they published numerous articles in local newspapers.
Héritage Sutton was incorporated on May 30, 1983 by the following people: Edmond Eberdt, Irène Page, Harry Chapman (all retired), as well as Winston Bresee and Jean-Paul Deslières (both retired mayors of the Township and Town of Sutton respectively). With the incorporation as a non-profit organization, grants from the two municipalities and from Federal and Provincial levels became easier to obtain. Thus, 40 years ago, the official Héritage Sutton was born and has given the population years of research, documentation and writing about the History of Sutton and its people.
As in many organizations, there are sometimes conflicts and so Héritage Sutton became inactive for a short period of time. At the beginning of the years 2000, the museum was taken over by the Ville de Sutton with a mandate to preserve the collection of artifacts of Sutton’s past and to prepare temporary exhibits. At this time, Marc Clerk became president of Héritage Sutton which published the first seven history sketchbooks. The first Historical Sketchbook was published in August 2002 and they have been very popular with a total of 38 being printed. There is a mix of both French and English stories about many subjects of historical interest.
In 2007, a new team led by Jeanne Morazain, Carol Kieroff and others formed a new administration of Héritage Sutton. Since then, many new projects have been completed, some of which are : the cataloging and storage of 150 interviews done between 1977 and 2020 with Sutton residents about their lives in Sutton – the exchange and interviews with Sutton long-time residents celebrating their early memories of life in Sutton and the preparation of a virtual exposition of Sutton Border Town to be shown on Digital Museums Canada site.
Heritage Sutton has also participated in projects such as recounting the history of the Filtex factory and the Sutton Academy for the Ville de Sutton. And more, such as: a prohibition display with Sutton Museum; the Roads of History as a trail in the cultural park of D’Arts et de rêves; Views of the Past on display in the windows of local merchants; validation of patrimonial routes and an inventory of cemeteries.
Héritage Sutton also offers a large collection of photos of people and places in Sutton. When the Town Hall was renovated, a vault was built so that all of these valuable items could be properly protected for future reference. Héritage Sutton has been able to carry on with the mission, thanks to the numerous volunteers that have been involved over the years.
The collective memory and history will continue to be of value if and only if the Sutton community continues to donate photos and documents to Héritage Sutton. The work of the volunteers at Heritage Sutton will ensure that the history of Sutton will continue to be documented and protected in the future.