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Burriss gearing up for 100th birthday

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It only happens once, and the Burriss Women’s Institute wants to make sure the event doesn’t go by unnoticed.

That’s why the group met Monday night to get the ball rolling on Burriss’ 100th anniversary party, which they’re aiming to hold this summer.

"We’d like to have a family day with games from the olden days," noted Burriss W.I. president Sheri Stamarski, who added they’re hoping other groups and individuals get involved.

In May, 1898, the Canadian government gave Rufus Allan Burriss the rights to settle the township. Since then, Stamarski said much has happened to make Burriss the community it is today.

"A lot of older people are passing away and the history is going with them," she lamented, noting the centennial celebration was a way to honour the history on which their community was built.

But keeping track of the community’s history isn’t something new for Stamarski. As curator of the Tweedsmuir history book for the Burriss W.I. for the past four years, she has been putting in long hours to get the history of Burriss on paper.

She took over where another Burriss W.I. member Jennie Mattson, who began compiling the history in the 1950s, left off. So far, there are four completed historical books, with a fifth in the works.

"It’s a lot of work," Stamarski admitted, noting she has put in as much as eight to 10 hours a day on the books.

"It’s fun, though," she added. "History is important to me."

Her own family has long roots in the community. In fact, her grandmother lived on the same land her husband, Dale, purchased before they were married.

She felt her family ties (her grandmother and great-grandmother, along with other relatives, lived in Burriss) spurred her interest in the community’s history even more.

Through her efforts, Stamarski has learned out much about the history of many families, and has heard colourful stories about Burriss’ bygone days.

Her favourites include people telling of finding a dead body in the church, and another woman recalling how she failed a grade because she went to the Dance school picnic when she should have been in class.

But she also said compiling the history is a never-ending job. She’s just sent out another 50 letters looking for input into the books.

"There are a lot of families that I don’t even have a history on. I think everyone is interested [in doing it] but some never get around to it," she noted.

"This is, I would say, just the beginning of it," she added.

Stamarski hopes the next step is to get the books published. But she admitted much of that would depend on how much it cost and if they could get any grants to do it.

Anyone interested in submitting their family history for the books, or taking part in the centennial celebration, can contact Stamarski at 486-3535.

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