Janie Cooper-Wilson’s vast talents in the field of historical research, Cemetery advocacy work, art, filmmaking, involvement in various community service organizations and public speaking are well-known and highly respected on the Local, Provincial, National, and international levels. Those who have worked closely with Janie know her grass-roots approach and integrity, as well as, her leadership qualities and her love of history, go far-beyond the parameters of the job and are simply Janie’s way of life. A guardian of history, Janie is a living example of the theory that economic and social status does not determine one’s ability to learn, or to bring about positive change.
Janie is the Founder and Executive Director of The Silver Shoe Historical Society, based in Clearview Township and led the organization to incorporation as an Affiliate of The Ontario Historical Society; as well as, supervising the overwhelming task of the restoration and designation of the almost-lost Bethel-Union Pioneer Cemetery, in New Lowell, Ontario. The S.S.H.S. has hosted an Annual Memorial Candlelight Service, at the Site, since 1997.
Over the last three decades, Janie’s seemingly tireless energy and fierce dedication to advance public understanding of the collective history of our Province has been recognized with awards and citations, by numerous organizations, groups, and Municipalities. She is a third- term, sitting member of the Ontario Historical Society Board of Directors and Co-Chair of the OHS Cemetery Preservation and Defence Committee, who works very closely with the Bereavement Authority of Ontario to identify, research, and bring at risk pioneer Cemeteries and Burial Grounds across the Province into compliance with Provincial law, in order to protect these historical treasures from obliteration. Likewise, many will immediately recognize Janie as the face of the 2016 Project to restore the 1849 Oro African Methodist Episcopal Church National Historic Site. Presently, she continues her efforts, as an independent Historical Consultant, in conjunction with the Township of Oro-Medonte and the recently incorporated Oro Freedom Institute, to negotiate a plan for future historical development of this crucial National Historic Site.