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Saturday, September 30, 2023
Butler family gathering connects members of worldwide society
Butler representatives from all corners of the globe enjoyed a three-day weekend of fun and family bonding, closing off with a lunch at The Queen's Landing. Julia Sacco

For Carol Butler Ross, the weekend’s assembly of the Butlers of was all about spending time with family – even if they had never met before.

The Virgil resident, who moved here seven years ago, told The Lake Report that she grew up without much of an extended family.

“I didn’t grow up with any cousins so it was kind of nice that these people were somehow my family – and it felt like family, a family reunion,” Butler Ross said.

The Butler Society was founded in 1967 to connect Butler kin and kith everywhere and to preserve family history and lore.

The group usually meets every three years at Kilkenny Castle in Ireland, but this year, decided to host a meetup in Niagara-on-the-Lake under the theme “Stronger Together,” to unite North American Butlers with Butlers worldwide.

The gathering featured a three-day activity-packed weekend, from Aug. 25 to 27, exploring the town and the Butler family history entrenched here.

Highlights included a dinner at the Prince of Wales Hotel and messages from both Justin Trudeau and Doug Ford.

Butler Ross’ family lineage and John Butler’s role in town didn’t play much of a role in her decision to move to Niagara-on-the-Lake, but it is certainly a bonus, she said.

Her involvement in the Newcomers Club is what initially introduced her to the Butler Society, only a week before the family congregation.

She explained that in an update of weekly happenings in town, the Butler flag-raising was mentioned.

“I didn’t know they existed at all, so I found out the contact and got in touch with them,” Butler Ross said.

“I then managed to spend all this time with people who I’m somehow related to – and it’s in my own town.”

Similar experiences were had for Butlers from all corners of the globe, including Abigail Butler who came to NOTL from Australia.

Butler, who serves as president at the Southern Cross branch, spent her first time in Canada with the Butler Society.

“I think the whole trip was something like 34 hours,” she said.

For the Butler from Down Under, the trip was well worth it.

“I’ve met a great group of people and I’ve made friendships that will last for years,” she said.

In a world surrounded by conflict, Butler said the group’s uniqueness is in its ability to bring people together across borders over one common ancestor. 

“The strength of the Butler Society is that we say, ‘Forget about all that,’ because we’ve got a common interest and we meet on a common ground. We can build bridges to overcome the differences,” she said.

Coming from the other side of the world, the highlight for Butler was learning about Canadian history. 

“I hadn’t known about The War of 1812 but we had some very good discussions about the history of Canada. I didn’t realize that (NOTL) was the original capital- I learned a lot,” Butler said.

Ruaraidh Butler, president of the Butler Society of Canada is a Niagara resident himself and told The Lake Report that he hopes to have another annual Butler gathering in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

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