Board of Directors

Diverse team of volunteers

Board of Directors 2019-20

PresidentMichel BeaulieuThunder Bay
First Vice PresidentSerge DucharmeField
Second Vice PresidentKris IvesLeamington
Past PresidentCaroline Di CoccoBright's Grove
TreasurerMark PlishewskyOshawa
SecretaryAllan MacdonellGreen Valley
DirectorJanie Cooper-WilsonStayner
DirectorGabriella Colussi ArthurToronto
DirectorJan Haskings-WinnerToronto
DirectorLaura SuchanCourtice
DirectorNora SawyerAlderville
DirectorEric PayseurOttawa
Ex-Officio | Executive DirectorRob LevertyToronto
Ex-Officio | Editor, Ontario HistoryThorold TronrudThunder Bay

New Board Members

At the 131st Annual General Meeting of The Ontario Historical Society (OHS), held at Tyndale University College & Seminary in North York, three new board members were elected to complement the board’s already diverse team of volunteers.

OHS President Caroline Di Cocco reported on the nomination of Laura Suchan of Courtice, Nora Sawyer of Alderville, and Eric Payseur of Ottawa, who were accepted by the voting members present at the annual meeting.

As a provincial heritage organization, the Society serves all Ontarians. Its board of directors reflects the diversity of the province by ensuring a mix and balance of different cultural and professional backgrounds with representation from all regions of Ontario.

Welcome to Ms. Suchan, Ms. Sawyer, and Dr. Payseur!

For over thirty years Laura Suchan has worked as the Executive Director with the Oshawa Historical Society. She is a historian, consultant, public speaker, and cultural professional who has contributed her skills and expertise to a number of organizations and committees. She currently works at the Oshawa Museum, a museum dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Oshawa’s history. Laura has spoken on her passion for public history at conference presentations for the Ontario Museum Association, History of Education Society, the Oral History Association, the Association of Gravestone Studies, and others.

Laura is a committed advocate for cemetery preservation. In 2005, while working on a Masters Degree, Laura developed a classification system for 18th century Ontario gravestones which allowed for a more systematic approach to the transcription and preservation of gravestones. This work led to the publication of her first book, Momento Mori: Classifying Nineteenth Century Ontario Gravestones in 2009 with a revised and expanded edition appearing in 2013. An article based on this research was awarded the Doug Grandy Award for the best article published that year by the Durham Region Chapter of the Ontario Genealogical Society in 2010.

Laura is passionate about the storytelling power of history and has taught oral history at Trent University and Durham College. She has acted as oral history project consultant for several organizations and her work as project director for the Oshawa Historical Society’s oral history project and publication, Lakefront Memories, was recognized by the Ontario Museum Association with an Award of Merit for outstanding research. She has authored numerous articles that have appeared in such diverse publications at The Toronto Star, The Toronto Sun, Ontario Historical Society, Ontario Museum Association, Association for Gravestone Studies, The Oshawa Historical Society, and The Writers Community of Durham Region.

Laura currently contributes her time to several organizations including the Business and Professional Women – Durham Region and the Women’s Herstory Connection of Durham Region.

Born and raised on Alderville First Nation, Nora is a mother of two and grandmother of four. She attended Cobourg District Collegiate before raising her children, and then returned to college in Peterborough to take small business management, and then Trent University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1986.

Nora worked at Sir Sandford Fleming College before taking the job of CEO with the Union of Ontario Indians in North Bay for two years. Nora then ran for Chief of Alderville First Nation and served as their first woman Chief from 1987 to 1993. She brought in many new initiatives to Alderville such as a new community center and daycare, and new cultural practices. After her time as Chief, Nora worked for the Ogemawahj Tribal Council in Orillia as CEO for six years and then as the Director of Health and Social Services for the Chippewas of Rama for 13 years.

Eric is a historian who is concerned as much with the present and future as the past. Trained and practised in both academic and public history, he has expertise as an experiential educator in urban agriculture and local, organic food and food systems.

Eric fell in love with history as an undergraduate for two reasons: his study of Polish history at the University of Wroclaw, Poland, and courses with esteemed historians Donna Gabaccia and Heather Ann Thompson at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Eric completed his PhD in Canadian and US social history at York University, specializing in migration. His thesis examined gender and Polish-Canadian identity in Ontario and beyond.

Throughout his graduate work, Eric developed a keen interest in public, food, and environmental history, and experiential education. Recently, he was Guest Curator for Brewing Changes Guelph, a major Guelph Civic Museum exhibition that examined Guelph’s important contribution to Ontario’s and Canada’s brewing history. Eric has taught courses on local sustainable food systems at McMaster University, St. Lawrence College, and the University of New Mexico. An Organic Master Gardener, he has diverse experience working with sustainable food initiatives. A decade ago, he was at the forefront of scaling up urban agriculture in Toronto schools. Eric’s background includes years of fund-raising and project start-up work, as well as building and maintaining relationships with communities, funders, and other stakeholders in private, public, and non-profit sectors.

Currently Eric lives in Ottawa and helps farmers in Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry and adjacent Eastern Ontario counties transition to organic agriculture in a project called Growing Eastern Ontario Organically.


Chair NameCommittee
Michel Beaulieu Executive Committee
Gabriella Colussi ArthurFundraising Committee
Michel Beaulieu and Eric PayseurHonours & Awards Committee
Nora SawyerIndigenous Affairs Committee
Kristin Ives and Allan MacdonellMuseums and Affiliated Societies Committee
Caroline Di CoccoNominations Committee
Laura Suchan and Janie Cooper-WilsonPreservation and Cemeteries Committee

OHS Past Presidents

This video is also available on the OHS YouTube channel here.

OHS Past Presidents Reflect on 125 Years

On November 4th, 2013, the 28th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario David C. Onley held a reception at Queen’s Park to celebrate the 125th anniversary of The Ontario Historical Society. In attendance were students from Waterdown District High School’s Student Parliament, under the supervision of Nathan Tidridge, historical educator and friend of the OHS. During the celebrations, secondary student Joelle Easter interviewed Past Presidents of The Ontario Historical Society’s Board of Directors about their tenure with the OHS, and their reflections on the role and impact of the Society.


1. Download and Print the Nomination Form (word/.doc), and mail the completed form to:

The Ontario Historical Society
c/o OHS Nominating Committee
34 Parkview Avenue
Willowdale, ON M2N 3Y2

2. Download and electronically complete the Nomination Form, and e-mail the form as an attachment to