Bracebridge resident Ken Veitch receives the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Lifetime Achievement at Queen’s Park on Friday. From left are: Richard Moorhouse, executive director of the Ontario Heritage Trust; Ken Veitch; and the Hon. David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.
Photo by Tessa J. Buchan
BRACEBRIDGE — A Bracebridge man received a provincial award on Friday for answering more than 30 years’ worth of questions about Muskoka’s history.
Veitch became the go-to person for historical information while he was working for the Town of Bracebridge. When he left, people continued to call him with historical questions
Ken Veitch, also known as “Father Town” due to his knowledge of Bracebridge and central Muskoka, was one of 15 people who received the Lieutenant Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He was nominated by the town of Bracebridge for preserving the area’s heritage for more than 25 years.
Veitch said he is honoured to receive the award, but he does his work for the people of Bracebridge.
“I don’t make any big deal of it quite frankly, it’s just what I do every day. You know, it’s like driving a bus or something,” said Veitch.
The people of the town of Bracebridge don’t feel the same way, said Kim Ball, one of the members of a community recognition advisory committee. Ball said his nomination for the award was based on his commitment to keeping history alive in Bracebridge.
“He’s kind of known as the Bracebridge historian,” Ball said.
Veitch became the go-to person for historical information while he was working for the Town of Bracebridge. When he left after a 30-year career, people continued to call him with historical questions. Eventually he decided to document them so he would be able to offer better information more quickly.
That’s when the Veitch Index was born.
The index contains information on people, places, things — anything Veitch thought people may be interested in. Each entry in the index has a letter and a number beside it, referring to a book and the page number with the information on it.
There are currently 45,914 entries.
“It became sort of a thing I had to do,” he said.
When he’s finished, he plans on donating the Veitch Index to the library. It looks like that won’t be anytime soon, as he points to a shelf of books he still hopes to read and index.
“I’m not a researcher. I’m not a historian. I’m a collector of interesting things that people have written down and that we’ve all forgotten about,” he said.
Veitch wrote his first book because people kept calling him with historical questions.
“History is pretty boring most days, so what I do is I make a little story about it,” he said.
He is currently writing his own book about the area’s history. He said it’s a summary of 10 books.
“I have people lined up waiting for this Bracebridge book,” he said.
Bracebridge Coun. Steve Clement said the award also reflects Veitch’s involvement in revitalizing historical projects in Bracebridge, collecting and indexing artifacts for the town, and many other history-related events.
“To have somebody from Bracebridge awarded with this is extra special,” said Clement.
Lt.-Gov. David C. Onley presented the award to Veitch at Queen’s Park on Friday night.