Opinion Column

Ottawa Valley history featured in 2018 Algonquin College Speaker Series

Jamie Bramburger

By Jamie Bramburger, Special to The Daily Observer

Workers clear the wreckage of the Almonte train wreck, December 1942.

Workers clear the wreckage of the Almonte train wreck, December 1942.

Mac Beattie sang of the heavy load that the “Pembroke Local” was carrying on December 27, 1942 just minutes before the packed passenger train was struck by a troop train loaded with soldiers. The well-known Ottawa Valley musician of the 1940s and 50s knew of the significance of the Almonte train wreck, the worst disaster to occur in the Ottawa Valley. It left 36 people dead and more than 200 injured, many of them returning to Ottawa after celebrating the holidays with family and friends.

Through a partnership with the North Lanark Museum, the Almonte train wreck will be explored in detail as part of the Algonquin College Speaker Series. The February 8 presentation will kick off the 2018 Speaker Series which will focus on Ottawa Valley history, including the story of Pembroke’s flying bandit.

During the 1980s, Gilbert Galvan, an American convict lived a double life in Pembroke. He would tell his family he was a computer salesman, using Pembroke’s regional airline Pem-Air to fly to Toronto, on a regular basis. When he arrived in Toronto, he would get on larger airlines and fly to various destinations in Canada, where he would rob 59 banks and jewelry stories, heists that would add up to more than $2-million in stolen money and jewelry.

By the time he was arrested at the Pembroke Airport, a reporter in Peterborough was hot on his trail. Ed Arnold, now retired as the managing editor of the Peterborough Examiner, will be in Pembroke on March 19 to share how he broke the story of the flying bandit, sharing information on his exclusive interviews with Galvan after he was arrested and sentenced in a Pembroke courtroom.

On June 18, 1918 a fire broke out at the Laundriault’s Livery Barns in downtown Pembroke. Within minutes the blaze had scorched several blocks, leaving a trail of destruction. On the 100th anniversary of Pembroke’s great fire, local historian Bruce Pappin, will provide a presentation and walking tour highlighting the vast area that was impacted by the blaze and telling stories of how Pembroke responded to the fire and the ensuing investigation into what caused it.

One hundred and twenty-five years ago Pembroke played its first hockey game when a group of young men travelled to Ottawa and took a 13-1 thumping from the Ottawa Amateur Athletic Club. Despite the humiliating loss, that first game of hockey set off a love affair between the community and the sport that was played on the frozen rivers that weaved their way through Pembroke.

On December 5 the Speaker Series will explore how Pembroke earned the title of Hockey Town Canada. From its three Hall of Fame players to its many championship teams, Pembroke has always attracted a good mix of players, personalities and politics to its hockey teams. For more than a century, hockey has been at the centre of the community.

Tickets for all of these speaker series are now on sale at the college and on line through the college website. Group and bundle ticket prices are available.
2018 should be a great year of exploring our local history.
 

Jamie Bramburger is the manager of community and student affairs at Algonquin College’s Waterfront Campus in Pembroke.  Jamie can be reached at brambuj@algonquincollege.com or at 613-735-4700, ext. 2756.
 



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