McLaughlin Continues to Preserve the Past
St. Jerome’s University (SJU) is pleased to congratulate Ken McLaughlin (BA ’65), a SJU Department of History distinguished professor emeritus and the University of Waterloo’s (UW) official historian, on the publication of a new book, “Preserving Our Past: The Ormston Heritage House, A Window into Waterloo Township’s History.” McLaughlin co-wrote the book with local author Murray Brooksbank.
“Preserving Our Past” is based on the premise that without knowing our past, the present will not be understood. The book opens a rare window into Waterloo Township and its history, including the creation of the Haldimand Tract, the first land sales, the arrival of English, Scottish, and Mennonite settlers, and subsequent generations to the present. The life stories of those who settled includes Heritage House, built in 1851 by Brooksbank’s family – Petworth immigrants: a property now designated as being of historical and architectural merit. The book also features over 150 images and photos ranging from Governor Haldimand, Joseph Brant (Thayendananegea), John Graves Simcoe and Richard Beasley, to the arrival of the sponsored Petworth Immigrants, and the awarding of the Distinguished Flying Cross by King George VI to Ian Ormston.
McLaughlin’s own history is interwoven with St. Jerome’s University. His post-secondary story began at St. Jerome’s, where he received his BA in History in 1965. He followed with an MA in History (Dalhousie University), and a PhD in History (University of Toronto), before returning to Waterloo in 1970. As a professor at St. Jerome’s in the Department of History, he served as Chair of that Department (1975 -1989); Acting Assistant Dean (1978); Assistant Dean (1987-1989); Vice-President and Academic Dean (1989-1995); and also the Director of Public History and Director of the Tri-University (Waterloo, Laurier, and Guelph) Graduate program. He was appointed to serve on the Appraisal Committee of the Ontario Council for Graduate Studies and has served on numerous provincial, national, and international boards and committees.
Among his achievements, McLaughlin has written books and scholarly articles, has made presentations, and has been awarded the Canadian Historical Association's Certificate of Merit; the Certificate of Commendation from the American Association for State and Local History; and the 1998 Special Recognition Award from the Waterloo Regional Heritage Foundation. Enthusiasm for the Truth: An Illustrated History of St. Jerome's University (2002), is among McLaughlin’s published works, which he co-authored with Gerald Stortz and James Wahl. In 2019 McLaughlin added on-screen narrator to a long list of credits, for his work on the University of Waterloo’s Beyond Tradition, an 11-minute documentary capturing the university’s unique history. Although McLaughlin retired in 2008, his interest in sharing local history continues with the publication of this recent book.