From Wartime Refuge to Peaceful Hippie Haven: Generations of Youth on Grindstone Island

Thursday, January 18, 2024 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EST (GMT -05:00)
Black and White image of a group of adults and children in front of trees.

Participants in the 1965 Grindstone Experiment gather on the island for a group photograph. Credit: Nancy Pocock Fonds, Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections, York University.


This presentation interrogates how a private island on Big Rideau Lake, Ontario was presented, experienced, and embodied as a refuge for youth endangered or alarmed by war. Between 1917-1963, the island was the summer home of Admiral Charles Kingsmill and his family. During their tenure they hosted British child evacuees during WWII, among other things. For almost a decade afterwards, it was home to a Peace Education Institute and hosted programs attended by the children of peace and civil rights activists in which they considered non-violent solutions to Cold War tensions. Drawing on oral histories and archival documents, Dr. Brookfield will compare youth’s experiences confronting real and imaginary experiences of war, while living away from home in the Canadian wilderness.


Dr. Tarah Brookfield is an Associate Professor at Wilfrid Laurier University in History and Youth and Children’s Studies. Her research focuses on histories of women, childhood, and war and society in modern Canada. She is the author of several articles and book chapters, and two books Cold War Comforts: Canadian Women, Child Safety, and Global Insecurity (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2012) and "Our Voices Must Be Heard” Women and the Vote in Ontario (University of Chicago Press, 2018). She is currently working on her third book, Experiments in Peace: Families, Activists, and State Representatives on Grindstone Island.


Attend in person at Guelph Museums (you must register) or online through the Museum's Facebook livestream. After, the recorded conversation will be available on FacebookYouTube, and the Museum's Everywhere Portal. 

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