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Waddington gets a new town historian

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WADDINGTON – For Zachary T. Dupray, the preservation of history is more than a means of passing on tradition. It strengthens the connection between him and his family.

Mr. Dupray said Monday he inherited his love of history from his mother, Kathy H. Dupray. In A Touch of Icing, the bakery and café Mrs. Dupray owns and operates, many photos depicting the early days of Waddington, including Chateau Waddington, Ogden Mansion, the Old Mill, and the ferry, line the walls.

As the newly appointed town historian, Mr. Dupray said his ambition is to build from those photos to create a town museum.

“It’s not going to happen overnight,” he said. “Waddington has a rich history. I’d like to start by talking to residents who remember the early days.”

Mr. Dupray, who graduated from St. Lawrence University in 2007 with a degree in sociology, and recently earned a masters degree in education with a concentration in school counseling, said much of the town’s history rests with residents who lived it.

“If history is not recorded, it can be lost,” he said. “We preserve it so we can better understand the early days, which can help us better understand our lives.”

While he hasn’t yet settled on a location for the museum, Mr. Dupray said he is gathering materials for several mobile exhibits.

He is also working with the town to create a link to a historian’s page on the town’s revamped website. He hopes to complete the mobile exhibits and historian’s webpage in time for Waddington’s Homecoming in August.

Born and raised in Waddington, Mr. Dupray’s own family history is rich. His mother’s family settled in Waddington in 1918. His maternal grandmother, Helen (Zagrobelny) Badlam, owned the Hollybrook Inn on St. Lawrence Avenue. His maternal grandfather, Hyram “Duck” Badlam, owned a garage and gas station, Hy’s Garage, on the same street.

Like many homes and businesses along the shoreline, Mr. Dupray’s grandparents were forced to move their businesses because their locations were flooded during construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway and the St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Hydroelectric Project in the 1950s. His grandmother’s inn was closed, and his grandfather’s garage was relocated to Route 37.

“It changed the whole landscape of the town,” Mr. Dupray said. “It’s definitely something I would like to study more. Many of these places are now gone. Many areas such as Dry Island are now under water. It’s interesting to see the impact on the town and surrounding areas. Some people had to move and never came back.”

Mr. Dupray admitted that Waddington has not had any significant industrial changes in nearly 100 years, but he thinks that’s the key to Waddington’s longevity and friendly atmosphere.

“It’s never expanded a whole lot,” he said. “Many of our old stone buildings, as well as the Old Town Hall and Clark House, have been preserved. It’s beautiful growing up by the river. Unlike other places, there is easy access to water and the shoreline, as well as the opportunity to live and fish in the outdoors.”

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