Island expat to lecture at US history symposium

SPRINGFIELD—Bill and Marnie Sim of Manitowaning are beaming with pride over the news that their son Ted, born and raised on Manitoulin Island and a former student of Assiginack Public School and Manitoulin Secondary School, will be travelling to Springfield, Illinois, home of Abraham Lincoln from 1844 until 1861, this month to take part in an internationally renowned panel discussion on the Civil War president.

“We are very proud of him,” smiled Ms. Sim. “He has really gone a long way from our little Island.”

Mr. Sim was selected as one of 17 teachers from across the US who will take part in a discussion of former US presidents and the meaning of liberty and the US Constitution. The discussion is sponsored by the Ashbrook Centre (Ashbrook University) and the Liberty Fund.

“I applied for this at the beginning of the summer and hadn’t heard anything,” noted Mr. Sim. Then an email arrived in his inbox announcing his selection.

The ‘colloquium,’ as it is called, will be moderated by Washington and Lee University professor Lucas Morel in Lexington, Virginia.

Although Mr. Sim is an accomplished academic, he has his work cut out for him in the time leading up to the discussion, noted Ms. Sim. “He said he has a couple of thousand pages to read. Everything is supplied by the Ashbrook Centre and it is all historical readings by President Lincoln.”

It won’t be too much of a burden, however, as Mr. Sim describes himself as having a love of “reading first person history.”

Mr. Sim noted that the readings are “going to be from the best authorities on Lincoln, so that should be really interesting.” An added bonus will be getting together with other history teachers from across the continent and hearing their perspectives and interpretations, not to mention Mr. Sim’s fascination with the Civil War president. “I think he was the right man at the right place at the right time,” he said. “He dealt with issues like everyone else does, but what he accomplished is just amazing.”

Mr. Sim may have left Manitoulin Island, but he remains close to his small town rural roots, teaching at Luther L. Wright School in Ironwood, Illinois. “Sometimes it seems like we get forgotten up here,” he told his hometown paper. “I am really glad that I am able to go and represent Ironwood.”

For Bill and Marnie Sim of Manitowaning, their son will be representing a bit of the pride of Manitoulin as well.

Michael Erskine