The York Pioneer and Historical Society (YPHS) is composed of volunteers with a common love of local history. For over 150 years, we have steadfastly carried our history forward for current and future generations to appreciate, to enjoy, and from which to learn. We invite you to join us on this multi-generational experience as we carry on this legacy through the 21st century.
2022 Board of Directors
Info coming soon.
Beth Alaksa was born and raised in Toronto. Growing up she did not learn much about Toronto's past and then one day she heard about Elizabeth Simcoe and the rest, as they say, is history! Beth has done her best to spread the word about the Simcoes and Toronto history ever since. She was excited to find the York Pioneer Historical Society in 2017 and begin volunteering at the Scadding Cabin. Getting to know people with similar interests and much more knowledge has been personally enriching. She is thrilled now to join the Board where she can work on projects that will bring Toronto history to more people.
David Raymont is past president and a life member of the association. He first became a York Pioneer in 2006 and has served on the board since 2007. David has volunteered at Scadding Cabin and organized a range of events at the museum during the CNE including performances by the Windermere Quartette and the Native Mens Residents Association drummers. He has also contributed articles to the "York Pioneer" magazine and has been published in "Canada's History Magazine," "Canadian Geographical Journal," and "HIstory of the Canadian West." He is a former director of Heritage Toronto and was active in the creation of Doors Open Toronto.
George Duncan is a retired heritage planner with many years of experience at the City of Markham and Town of Richmond Hill. He has a long-standing interest in the study and documentation of heritage buildings, characterizing himself as a student of early Ontario Architecture. Over the past 40 years or so, Mr. Duncan has written numerous articles and several books on Ontario's historical buildings and on a variety of other topics relating to heritage conservation. His best-known works include York County Mouldings from Historic Interiors, Historic Unionville - A Village in the City, A Few Old Barns, and Thoreau MacDonald's Sketches of Rural Ontario. In addition to writing, Mr. Duncan has been a guest speaker at historical societies and other community groups, and has led many walking tours in Markham and Richmond Hill. He resides in Markham Village with his wife, Linda in a restored Queen Anne Revival style house built circa 1895.
Melissa Vella Singh
Cindy Ewins has served on the York Pioneers Board since 2011, holding several positions but mainly as Treasurer. She has a strong interest in her family history, the history of Toronto, and the past in general, but she never seems to find the time to do much research or reading. Being a life member of the YPHS and being on the Board have allowed her to at least keep dipping her toes into historical waters, and to support the efforts of others who do all kinds of good work “preserving the past for the future”. Cindy has had her own bookkeeping business for many years. She loves her wide variety of clients and working on something different every day. Cindy comes from long lines of night owls but somehow did not manage to pass this trait along to any of her children. She is mostly sure that she will do the right thing even when no one is watching.
Gerald (Gerry) Lee
Afflicted with the genealogy itch, Gerry dug up each ancestor, York region settlers Henry Harman and George Playter in the 1790s then Timothy Rogers and John Bogart in 1802, and later immigrants Lloyd, Dawson, and Ianson (XXXX?). Experiencing both Queen Victoria School in Parkdale and then Lorne Park’s strawberry fields and orchards, he went on to Waterloo Lutheran University. A lifelong passion for reading began with Grade Ten teacher Jeanine MacDonald Avigdor, later a President of York Pioneers. Privileged to enjoy 40 years overlooking the undeveloped green acres of Castle Frank historic site, this inspired his unrelenting hobby of the study of the Town of York 1794-1834. Having retired in 2002, he has mixed feelings watching the development of his west coast fishing village in Mexico. And now, for the past 12 years, Gerry is happily committed to teaching refugees their new Language and Culture.
2022 Programme Committee Chairs
Fred Robbins (Acting)
Representative to the Board of the Sharon Temple Museum Society
Representative to the CNEA
Stefanie Lem has volunteered with the York Pioneer & Historical Society at Scadding Cabin for over a decade, always keen about telling its visitors about the cabin, its environs, and associated historical figures. As a new member of the YPHS Board starting in 2021, Stefanie is excited to be a part of the YPHS in a new capacity. Working for the YPHS combines her passion for history and strong belief in volunteerism. Stefanie also volunteers weekly at a cat adoption centre with a cat rescue organization.
In her free time, Stefanie enjoys long walks in the city, admiring both old and new architecture, and making a point to stop and read any historical plaques.
Fun fact: Over the years, Stefanie has tried the apples and raspberries growing in the Scadding Cabin gardens, and can report that they are tart yet delicious!
2021 Members at Large
Lionel Collier was born and raised in Oshawa Ontario. After attending O’Neill C.V.I. for five years he moved to Toronto to study accounting and economics at University of Toronto and graduated in 1983. Lionel received his CA designation in September 1985 and worked as an accountant until 2019. He became a member of the York Pioneers after a visit to the Scadding Cabin in 1974. He became a life member in 2017. Lionel’s Board experience includes the Foundation for Ontario Craft, MTCC 600, TSCC 1524 and the Governor Simcoe branch of United Empire Loyalists.
Sarah Gossip was born and raised in Montreal. She has been interested in art since childhood, and in 1981 completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Montreal. Moving to Toronto in 1996, she did not learn anything about Toronto’s past until she took a hand spinning course at Romni Wools and became fascinated by the craft and the history of spinning in Southern Ontario. Sarah's love of spinning prompted her to achieve certification as a Wool Judge in Manitoba in 2018. Sarah has been providing spinning demonstrations at Scadding Cabin since 2014, joined YPHS as a member in 2018, and joined the Board in 2020 as member-at-large. Volunteering at the cabin is something Sarah very much enjoys, particularly helping visitors or other volunteers try hand carding and working with animal fibers. Sarah works full-time in healthcare, has a very diverse set of hobbies competing for her free time, and feels there are never enough hours in the day.
Michael Nettleton is an avid family historian with a flair for research and a penchant for story telling. He is a sixth-generation resident with ancestors arriving at the Town of York before 1800. His forebears began migrating to this continent over 400 years ago; the first crediting their survival to the benevolence and generosity of indigenous peoples. They blazed trails, as pioneers, publishers, provisioners, publicans, postmasters, public officeholders and pot-stirrers. The acorn falls not far from the oak.
At age 10 the John F Hayes book “Rebels Ride at Night” illuminated family connections to the events of 1837 in Upper Canada and sparked conversations with family elders. Four decades later, “From Hands Now Striving To Be Free” by Chris Raible led Michael to the York Pioneers. Michael joined the Board in 2018 and then learned one 2g-grandfather was an early member.
Michael is a lifelong volunteer, serving education, causes, and programs that build community through inclusion. With more than three decades of governance experience he is currently active with the Board of Knox College and the OGS Toronto Branch Executive and is the senior lay leader in his congregation. He also chaired a hospital board and served on a LHIN board until the formation of Health Ontario. A career management consultant in change, governance and strategy, Michael also has considerable hands-on experience with technology.