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A History Of Volunteering In Puslinch


By Marjorie Clark

Sadly last year about this time, I read that the COPS committee had disbanded. The township had lost another volunteer organization. This after the demise of all of the Women’s Institutes in Puslinch over the last number of years, organizations that did so much for their communities over all of the 20th century.

Volunteerism has been a way of life in the township since its very beginning, when the young men went from clearing to clearing to build log homes for their fellow settlers. This was followed by an era of barn raisings, wood, quilting and threshing bees, participated in by all the neighbours. The major tasks were always accomplished through helping ones’ neighbours, who also helped you.

Residents then turned to community welfare as a whole. Each community within the township built its own school and formed its own school board. Religious groups built their own churches. Church activities expanded with the forming of choirs, Sunday Schools, missionary societies and women’s aid groups. Cemeteries were opened and operated by volunteer trustees, as almost all of them are still today.

Organizations were created to fill needs, as the government supplied only a portion of that required. The Puslinch Agricultural Society planned and co-ordinated the Aberfoyle Fair. Farm organizations were among the first groups to arise and the Puslinch Farmers Club was possibly the first farm organization in Ontario. Not long afterward, football (soccer) teams, were set up and soon, baseball. At the same time, literary and debating societies and volunteer-operated libraries appeared. Seven separate Women’s Institutes began to enrich the quality of life in their corners and beyond. Dealing with the First World War caused a number of Red Cross branches to arise in the township. During the 1950’s, there was a multiplicity of church groups for all ages.

Through the years, volunteers have provided much to the citizens of Puslinch. Inhabitants of our township are still the beneficiaries of the Red Cross, the work of churches, soccer and baseball associations and the Agricultural Society. New groups, the Badenoch Community Centre Board, the Puslinch Optimist Club, the Puslinch Historical Society, the Puslinch Fiddle Orchestra, newspapers, the Puslinch Pioneer and Puslinch Today and the Aberfoyle Farmer’s Market, have been instituted to meet new or different aspects of those same needs. Notable also recently, was the effort of the Puslinch Threshing Bee Committee, providing a threshing bee each year for five consecutive years and combining its forces for another year with the Aberfoyle Agricultural Society.

How poor would our lives be without these volunteer organizations and all of these individual volunteers, who donate their time, talent and energy to meet our needs or enrich our experience and understanding. In this season for giving, let’s consider how we, too, might contribute to life in our township.

“We make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give.” – Sir Winston Churchill