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In search of Ogden's origins

Marie-Andrée Courval
Réviseur linguistique : Jean Bourque

Ogden a well-kept secret? Indeed, few have heard of it and even fewer know its attractions. You don't have to go very far to see a gigantic question mark on someone's face when the name of our beautiful municipality is announced, the result of the reorganization of the Township of Stanstead in 1932. Here is the story.

Whispering of rebellion
In 1930, the Township of Stanstead was experiencing pockets of rebellion because a large section of the Township was not represented on the municipal council. Some taxpayers, those who found they had no voice in the local government, joined forces and sent the Quebec Minister of Municipal Affairs, Mr. Oscar Morin, a petition with 190 names calling for the creation of a new municipality. The petitioners, comprising an 80% majority of taxpayers in the area claimed, argued that the township covered too much land and was not able to effectively defend the interests of all its citizens.

The domino of separations
The Township of Stanstead had already suffered several fractures during the secessions of Stanstead Plain (1857), Beebe Plain (1873) and Rock Island (1892). In the Minister's view, a new partition will inevitably call for another one since the removal of Ogden would leave the Township of Stanstead with an inappropriate square-shaped geometry. (The municipality of Stanstead East will actually be created on July 16, 1932, six months after the creation of Ogden).

Why the name Ogden?
Isaac Ogden (1739-1824) is as little known as the municipality that bears his name. Why was he chosen? To honour the memory of this loyalist lawyer who lost all his property after the victory of the American Patriots against the British Crown. Arriving in Canada in 1788 with the title of Judge of the Admiralty Court, he was granted 25,000 acres of land on the shores of Lake Memphremagog, which he particularly appreciated. This land then represented half of the Township of Stanstead and corresponds to the current location of the Municipality of Ogden.

The new territory

The area claimed would be bounded to the south by the villages of Beebe and Stanstead and the State of Vermont, to the west by Narrows Bay, to the east by 11th Range and to the north by 16th Range.

Under the proposed division, the northwestern part of the township would inherit the most difficult roads with steep hills, but also the highest property values due to the rich lakefront properties at Georgeville and Fitch Bay. The eastern (Ogden) section would have more bridges to maintain, but would benefit from a strong concrete road (now Highway 247), higher value farms, granite quarries and the village of Tomifobia.

Stormy negotiations
On June 14, 1930, the municipal council of the Township of Stanstead voted on and passed a resolution to protest the proposed demerger of the municipality. Many of them felt that they had so far provided good management of the municipality, and felt that the creation of Ogden would be unfair since road maintenance costs in this sector were less important than elsewhere in the Township. Others, on the other hand, viewed this division of the territory favourably and feel it is important to respect the will of the petitioners.

Three petitions against the division of the Township of Stanstead were successively sent to the Lieutenant-Governor. They were signed, among others, by some residents of the territory affected by the creation of the new municipality. The first petition bears 135 names, the second 125 and the third 155, but these numbers do not depict the reality since the names of many citizens appear on all three petitions.

The Minister of Municipal Affairs agreed with the secessionists that the Township of Stanstead is indeed too large and that sooner or later it would have to be divided to ensure better management. He organized several meetings between the parties in order to reach an agreement. These meetings take place in Tomifobia but they come to nothing. Even the proponents of the division cannot agree on issues related to the boundaries of the territory and the value of the road infrastructure in the various sectors. The Minister suggests the formation of a committee bringing together the various proponents who will have two months to agree on the boundaries of the future territory of Ogden. Faced with the lack of cooperation and willingness to listen to the parties, the Minister convenes a delegation of 20 people, from both sides, in Quebec City, to resolve the impasse.

On January 12, 1932, the Lieutenant-Governor ruled on the matter and granted the plaintiffs the creation of the new municipality. The executive committee of the Township of Stanstead having already approved the application on January 11th, the new Township of Ogden was created in the south-central part of the Township of Stanstead.

There had already been several months of heated discussions regarding the division of assets, debts and budget between the municipal council of the Township of Stanstead and representatives of Ogden. It is eventually agreed that, based on the property assessment of the two municipalities, the liabilities and assets would be so divided between the two municipalities. Ogden's assessment is $356,175 and that of the Township of Stanstead is $895,835. After the division of liabilities and assets, Ogden was born with assets of $7,109.45 and liabilities of $17,128.37.

Humour in politics
The new township’s government was not without irony: W.B. Bullock, the first mayor of Ogden Township, and most of the councillors, Burbank, Bacon, Rediker, Burgess, Miller and Lussier, were originally among the opponents of the creation of the new municipality.