OPAL has invited Samantha Halyk, a student majoring in journalism and history, to share her interview with local historian and area farmer Charlie Reeves. As with any guest submission, the opinions contained may not be those of the OPAL Alliance.
Samantha Halyk August 1, 2012
When we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for – John Ruskin
After breathing fresh country air for more than 90 years, Beachville historian Charlie Reeves says he’s uneasy about the new dump proposal.
“The complexity and magnitude of the matter challenges one’s ability to express in words,” said Reeves.
Living on a farm all his life in the Beachville area, spending countless years researching its early history, Reeves, 91, is seeing Oxford County change before his eyes.
With his experience in farming, he explained agriculture has greatly changed from a way of life to a commercialized industry. “We have lost something; we have lost the sociability among the farmers,” said Reeves.
He also sees the changes happening within Beachville itself.
“In the early years, Beachville was a much contained community-- today we have more or less lost our identity because we are so closely related to Woodstock and Ingersoll,” said Reeves.
The proposed dump is not helping with the noticeable changes he is seeing in Oxford.
The lush valley along the Thames helps make it a desirable place for him and others to live. However, he explained with a dump in the works, it may lessen the valley’s appeal.
If the dump becomes approved, Reeves has some confusion on how it would be advertised. “Possibly call it ‘Seagull City’ I guess. Advertise it as a good place to establish a large carwash,” Reeves joked.
To him, the basic problem about the proposition is the lack of alternatives being created.
Another major concern is the extent of odour the dump may give off.
“The odour of garbage is undeniable for a dump, but we can’t pinpoint to what extent it will be,” said Reeves.
Reeves explained that the advertisers [*Editor’s note: By "advertisers", Mr. Reeves is referring to the landfill proponent Walker Industries.] mention very little about the potential odour. “The problem with odour is that it should not be underestimated,” said Reeves.
He refers to the dump as “the people’s project”, explaining “the future of the area lies in the hands of the people.”
When contemplating the dump, he explained Oxford County has to look at what effects it will have on the community.
“It will grow into perpetuity and it can’t be reversed. So this is what we should realize is going to happen,” said Reeves.
Local historian and life- long resident, Charlie Reeves, together with student journalist Samantha Halyk, demonstrate the power of 'generations joining together'
Reeves is widely recognized for his great contributions towards Oxford County’s early local history. From the history on the first cement plant in Oxford to a perished covered bridge in Beachville, Reeves has done extensive research. Some even refer to his mind as a museum filled with endless historical information.
“I was getting history lessons from the old people here, 85 or so years ago and my thoughts and interests in history go from then on,” said Reeves.
Reeves has published one book, Two Eyes, in 2001 and has contributed his historical knowledge to several others prior. He sticks to a certain principle when he writes, which includes no compensation. “I feel that I owe something to this community and this is a small way I can repay you,” he explained.
“My legacy has already been created by the information that I can leave behind, but I am still working on it. It’s never ending,” said Reeves.
This year, Reeves received a nomination for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of his service and contributions to the community.
“I didn’t know I was doing anything that anyone would recognize and I couldn’t see why I should be recognized. But that was their decision not mine,” Reeves said with a laugh.
Reeves will be informed this fall if he was chosen in the final decision to receive the award; he explained being nominated was both humbling and an honour.
Although Reeves has witnessed noticeable changes within Oxford County in the past, he said the future of the county and the dump “lies in the hands of the people.”
“I don’t want my descendants to look at a million ton garbage site and say, ‘this, our ancestors built for us’,” said Reeves while reflecting upon the significance of the John Ruskin quote.