History Day at Kagawong Park Centre features the mystery of the Griffon and WWII documentary

KAGAWONG — The story of Lasalle’s Griffon, considered by many to be the Holy Grail of Great Lakes wrecks and whose fate remains one of the most enduring mysteries of these waters, will be the keynote presentation at this year’s Billing’s Heritage Centre History Day at the Kagawong Park Centre on August 13.

So popular has the event become, that although formerly known as History Night, the Island’s signature celebration of local history has now been expanded to include a matinee presentation. “We had so many people come out to the last History Night that the organizing committee felt it was necessary to add the matinee,” said Old Mill Heritage Centre curator Rick Nelson.

Mr. Nelson recalls growing up hearing local legends of a Manitoulin wreck that many believe were the last remains of the vessel. “Like many people, I didn’t know a lot of the whole story,” noted the curator. “This will be the first time that I know of where there will be a definitive discussion. Hopefully this presentation will help us sort out some of the fact from fiction.”

This year’s event promises to continue the event’s outstanding popularity, as the evening will feature a presentation by two writers whose books and research has become synonymous with exploring the history, wrecks and diving in the Great Lakes. Cris Kohl and Joan Forsberg have written dozens of well-researched tomes on the subject and will be giving a presentation of the local history and links related to the fate of the Griffon.

Mr. Nelson was also very excited about the second half of the presentation’s offerings as well. “The second half of History Day will feature a 30-minute documentary, locally produced at the Kagawong museum,” said Mr. Nelson. “A summary of the Second World War from beginning to end, much of the documentary celebrates the lives of two local Kagawong residents who served us well in the war, Dennis Zylstra and Don Freeborn. One served in the Dutch resistance and the other was rescued by the Dutch resistance when his plane was shot down over Holland.”

To add to the presentations, the Dutch embassy in Ottawa is sending the museum some items for display.

For more information on the evening, or to secure tickets to what will be a very popular event, call 705-282-1442.