Sara Galbraith Calder
Founder of Battlefield House Museum
Sara Calder was the great-granddaughter of Mary Jones Gage. She deserves special recognition, for she was responsible for the construction of the monument and the preservation of Battlefield House as a museum.
Sara was the second child of Ann Eliza Gage (the last child born to James and Mary Gage) and Levi Beemer. She was born on August 19, 1846.
A small group of citizens (comprised of businessmen, civic leaders, doctors, lawyers and women) formed the Wentworth Historical Society on December 6, 1888. Sara was president of the Ladies' Committee of the Society and they were responsible for organizing fundraising events and for preserving historical artifacts.
Tension began to grow as early as 1894 between the men and women of the Wentworth Historical Society. The society on the whole thought the building of a monument to honour the soldiers who fought in the Battle of Stoney Creek was very much needed -- but they did not agree on the site. The Gage farmhouse and four and half acres of land was offered by George Fisher for the amount of $1500. The ladies thought that this was perfect as they would have a building for a museum and there was a nice piece of elevated land at the back for a monument.
The men were more interested in erecting a monument on the north side of the road, on a knoll which Hiram Smith was willing to sell for $50.00. It was on this piece of land where the American forces had placed their cannons and also the site where the heaviest action took place during the battle.
Between 1894 and 1899, the ladies organized several successful fundraising events. The women learned valuable lessons in financial management and team work. In 1899, the ladies unanimously voted to sever ties with the Wentworth Historical Society and formed their own organization called the Women's Wentworth Historical Society. In that same year the old Gage homestead and farm came up for sale for $1900.00. The ladies secured the property with a down payment of $900.00 and Sara Calder assumed the mortgage for the remaining $1000 until it was obtained through subscription.
On October 23, 1899, our present day Battlefield Park was officially opened by Lady Aberdeen. It was one of the first public parks owned by a Historical Society in Canada.
This original oil painting of the Gage House by Sara Calder was presented to Battlefield House Museum by her descendants. See Sara Calder's Painting for the story of how this family treasure came home to Stoney Creek.
A Lifetime of Dedication