on Wednesday, 02 December 2020. Posted in Stories


Due to the current Covid 19 Pandemic, it was not possible to offer the annual Spelling Bee competition this past November to the elementary students living in Zorra Township. In its place, the Heroes of Zorra Committee was able to offer an opportunity to Grades 4, 5 and 6 students at AJ Baker, Thamesford Public and Zorra Highland Park.

Students were all invited to go to the web site, select a World War 11 hero who also died overseas during the war. They were to then create a flyer/poster depicting this particular hero and then mail their work to the HOZ Committee. As poet Robert Burns said, “ the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry;"  .

Three individuals with no ties to any of the schools in Zorra were invited to judge this competition. They very kindly agreed to do so. Well, the first challenge faced was that none of the entries submitted followed all of the rules! Much discussion ensued and the judges finally agreed (with support from Shirley and Roy of the Committee) that the best thing to do was to throw all of the rules out the window and judge them all. Our sincere appreciation is extended to John Markle, Bev Neeb and Maureen Ralph. Your work as judges was truly appreciated.

The results are:

AJ Baker – no entries

Thamesford Public – Winner . Kingston Davis; Runner-up Finleigh Howe

Zorra Highland Park – Winner . Ella McGann; tied for Runner-up Emerson Berg and Ryan Watling

Winners each received $50 and runners-up each received $30. Our sincere CONGRATULATIONS to all of you.

Shirley McCall-Hanlon, Chair

Heroes of Zorra Committee


on Tuesday, 06 October 2020. Posted in Stories

Due to Covid 19 challenges there will NOT be a Spelling Bee this year, BUT, Zorra students will still have the opportunity to participate in a little friendly competition. Students in Grades 4/5/6 are invited to create a flyer/poster on an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper. Here are the requirements: go to the Heroes of Zorra web site; select a WW 11 soldier who died overseas; use your creative abilities to make this flyer/poster a tribute to your chosen hero; please print your name, grade and school you attend on the back of your entry; please ensure your envelope is addressed clearly to enable Canada Post to read it correctly. All entries are to be mailed to Heroes Of Zorra, 19 – 53 Roth St., Tavistock, ON N0B 2R0. All entries must be postmarked by Friday October 23rd to be eligible.

This competition is open to any grade 4/5/6 student at AJ Baker, Thamesford Public or Zorra Highland Park. A winner and runner-up will be chosen from each school. The winner at each school will receive $50 cash and the runner-up $30 cash. If you require further clarification you can reach us through the ‘Contact Us’ on the HOZ web site. We are excited to be able to offer this opportunity and look forward to seeing the results of your creative talents.

Your Heroes Of Zorra Committee

2019 Spelling Bee

on Wednesday, 25 September 2019. Posted in Stories

The Heroes of Zorra Spelling Bee – lots of fun

By Laura Green

Photo 2870 or 2871 by Laura Green

            The fourth “Heroes of Zorra” Spelling Bee was held on Sunday November 17th at the Embro Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion beginning at 1:30 p.m.

            This year there were 4 students in the Grades 6, 7, & 8 division and 7 students in the Grades 5 and under division. Each contestant must live in Zorra Township. All the words used were taken from the Heroes of Zorra website which contains 1143 different individuals. All the other rules are written on the website. Prize money 1st place - $100 and runner up $75.

            Volunteers for the event were Master of Ceremonies - Shirley Hanlon-McCall, Bee Master- Matt Roberts, Audio equipment tech- John Hiuser, Time Keeper- John Minler, Judges- Roy Youngs and Pauline Hanlon and Presenter of Awards- Scott Naisbitt. 

            Mayor of Zorra Marcus Ryan brought greetings from the Township of Zorra and congratulated all the contestants for entering the spelling bee.

            In the Grade 6, 7 & 8 division, the winner was Madeline Roddick and runner -up was Monica Payne. Other participants were Paige Borman and Hannah Houston.

            In the Grade 5 and under division, the winner was Leah Lockhart and runner up was Macey Taylor. Other participants were Jorja Borman, Peter Langford, Fiona Ryan, Lilli Taylor and Brody Wilks.

            Military Historian Steven Smith brought a display about Benjamin Franklin Youngs who was born and raised in Brooksdale. He joined the First Michigan Volunteer Sharpshooters and served in 1863 and 1864 during the American Civil War as a Corporal. On June 17th 1864 at Petersburg, Virginia he captured the enemy flag and for this earned the Medal of Honor which is the highest award giving to any American soldier. He received the original one in 1864, but his name was misspelled, so 1914 he received the new version of the medal with the correct spelling of Youngs. Both of these medals were on display in a window box.

            Refreshments were provided by the Grade 8 class of Zorra Highland Park School with proceeds for their Grade 8 graduation trip.


IMG 2870

The fourth “Heroes of Zorra” Spelling Bee was held on Sunday November 17th at the Embro Legion beginning at 1:30 p.m. There were 4 participants in the Grade 6, 7 & 8 division and 7 participants in the Grades 5 and under division.

Front row winners Grade 5 and under 1st Leah Lockhart (Thamesford PS) runner up Macey Taylor (Zorra HPS), Grades 6 to 8 1st place Madeline Roddick (Thamesford PS) and runner up Monica Payne (Thamesford PS).

Back Row: Brody Wilks (Zorra HPS), Hannah Houston (Zorra HPS), Jorja Borman (Zorra HPS), Paige Borman (Zorra HPS), Fiona Ryan (A.J. Baker), Lilli Taylor (Zorra HPS) and Peter Langford (Holy Family French Immersion Catholic School).

Grade 4/5 students at Zorra Highland Park Public School

on Tuesday, 28 November 2017. Posted in Stories

When the Heroes of Zorra Committee chose to create this web site our desire was to provide a format that young people were comfortable with, engaged in and could access.  We wanted them to have an opportunity to learn about the many individuals (who were either born in or lived a significant part of their life) from the Township of Zorra who served or are serving in Canada’s Armed Forces.   Our congratulations to each of the Grade 4/5 students at Zorra Highland Park Public School and their teach Mr. Matthew Roberts.  Well done!

Slideshow - 2017/18 - Grade 4/5 students at Zorra Highland Park Public School

Shirley McCall-Hanlon, Chair, Heroes Of Zorra Committee


on Thursday, 01 October 2015. Posted in Stories

On Wednesday, October 28th, 2015 at 10 a.m. a public ceremony will be held at the cenotaph in front of the Township of Zorra office.  Through a grant program the Township was recently the recipient of 500 tulip bulbs.  This grant is made possible due to the generous partnership of Canadian Garden Council, Vesey's Bulbs, Canada Post, Canadian Tulip Festival, National Capital Commission, Canadian Nursery Landscape Association, Garden Making Magazine, Chimpanzee, Baxter Travel Media, Enterprise Canada, Gardens BC, Quebec Gardens' Association and the Ontario Garden Tourism Coalition.  The Dutch-Canadian Friendship Tulip Garden will be planted at the cenotaph which is in front of the Zorra Township Office.  You are invited to join in on this event on October 28th at 10 a.m. when the bulbs will all be planted.  A presentation will be given on "the garden", followed with coffee and cookies.  You are most welcome to attend this public event, and if you have a friend or family member who is a veteran, please bring them along with you.  A colourful reminder of the sacrifices Canadians and our own Heroes of Zorra have given over the years.


on Friday, 07 November 2014. Posted in Stories

One of Zorra's heroes, Nursing Sister Elsie Gertrude Ross will be the topic of discussion on Monday, November 10, 2014 when CBC Ontario Morning (93.5 FM)interviews HOZ committee chair Shirley McCall Hanlon at 6:40 a.m.  With true care and compassion this young woman cared for many of our wounded soldiers who were returned home.  She was the first woman to be given a full military funeral.  She was held in such high esteem by her patients and colleagues that the procession following her casket lined the streets of Toronto with many wounded soldiers hobbling along behind.  Tune in to hear this interesting story. 


on Saturday, 03 May 2014. Posted in Stories

The Royal Canadian Legion (Ontario) is in the midst of publishing a new book called Military Service Recognition Book. Ontario is asking for families of servicepersons to submit the name, information, brief story and possibly a picture of the individual Veteran/Serviceperson.  Please note that due to liability issues they cannot take the information off of our web site or the History Books.  Forms to submit may be obtained on-line at the Royal Canadian Legion - Ontario web site or you may also obtain from your local Legion Branch.  Forms are to be completed and returned to the local branch.  Contact your local Legion if you have any questions or concerns.  This needs to be done asap as the printing is to be done in September 2014.

Former Military Serviceman A Hero On Another Front

on Monday, 12 August 2013. Posted in Stories

Written by Shirley McCall Hanlon with credit to Woodstock Sentinel Review August 1977

Former Military Serviceman A Hero On Another Front

Former Military Serviceman A Hero On Another Front

John Allan McKay who grew up at Lot 14, Concession 7 of West Zorra Township and served in the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals from 1960 to 1965 was also hailed as a hero in August of 1977.


on Saturday, 10 August 2013. Posted in Stories

written by Shirley McCall Hanlon with credit to the Stratford Gazette, November 2005

Elsie Gertrude Ross (born June 22, 1882) was born in the Township of West Zorra, daughter of Alexander and Christina (nee Murray) Ross. 1891 Census records show the family still living in West Zorra, however in the 1901 Census the family is shown to be now farming at Lot 37 Concession 3 of North Easthope in the County of Perth.

Members of the Victory Club

on Thursday, 08 August 2013. Posted in Stories

Members of the Victory Club

Most lived on or near the town line between West Zorra and East Nissouri townships. They prepared boxes of “goodies” for service personnel from the community and shipped them overseas.

A postcard sent home

on Thursday, 08 August 2013. Posted in Stories

A postcard sent home

A postcard sent home to Philip McArthur in 1916 from Ross Mooney, who was in a prisoner-of-war camp.


A gathering of Embro-area recruits

on Thursday, 08 August 2013. Posted in Stories

A gathering of Embro-area recruits

A gathering of Embro-area recruits who were at the Oxford Rifles’ Thames Valley Camp, from Sept. 16-27, 1940.

Biography of Benjamin Franklin Youngs

on Tuesday, 06 August 2013. Posted in Stories

Written by Bart Armstrong, Victoria B.C.

Biography of Benjamin Franklin Youngs

Most Canadians, and indeed all North Americans have probably never heard of the little hamlet called Youngsville in what was then called Canada West (Ontario).  Located in the Township of Zorra, within Oxford County this community was settled by strong, community-minded United Empire Loyalists and ancestors to many who are honoured to join with you today.

Memories Of The Great War

on Wednesday, 24 July 2013. Posted in Stories

Written by Rev. Stanley Johnston

When I returned from Alberta, in October, 1915, students were enlisting daily. We were pressed to enlist. “Why aren’t you in uniform.” asked a stern-faced maiden lady. The lad replied. “For the same reason that you are still single -physically unfit.” Looking back, there was an element of selfishness in enlisting. It was the popular thing to do.

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