Written by Pierre Mercier
posted on November 13, 2012 07:23
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a winter series to introduce you to the incredible archival material available in communities on both sides of the border.
The history detectives at the Leeds and the Thousand Islands Archives (LTIArchives) are hard at work, constantly in search of their quarry. These photographs, movies, letters, maps, diaries, etc. are elusive items which might be sitting in musty shoe boxes in the attic or occupying pride of place in an ornate picture frame in the cottage parlour. Most of our Township’s history is still held in private hands and rightly so, but that rich, often unique resource is inaccessible to the world and often in grave physical danger.
Ironically, it is often the older material that is in better shape while new media such as colour photographs and slides or magnetic tape are in danger of no longer being usable within just a few years. The three big enemies of archival materials are: temperature fluctuation, humidity and light, especially ultra violet. Some chemically-based media are inherently unstable and will degenerate no matter what is done. What’s a poor Archivist to do?
We’ve come up with a scheme to help preserve, document and make available the documentary history of our area while still ensuring that the material stays in the hands of those who cherish the history of their family or cottage or community and aren’t prepared to donate the material to the Archives just yet.
The LTI Archives has a major on-going project where we will scan and catalogue the collections of those who aren’t ready to donate or sell their precious family heirlooms. In exchange, we get to provide the digital copies to the public. This provides us with the opportunity to fulfill our mandate and help to protect and promote materials still in private hands. It also provides the owners the reassurance that their photos and documents are backed up digitally and the convenience of digital access without the danger and wear and tear of handling the originals. As soon as our volunteers can catalogue them the collections will be assessable through our website.
We have been able to scan and organize quite a number of family collections from throughout the LTI Township in this fashion. Below you will find a small representative selection from the thousands of images the Archives has collected so far. We hope you will
enjoy viewing them and will consider using our services if you have materials you wish to donate or have scanned. We can also advise you as to the best way to store and preserve your treasures.
The Archives is administered by the Leeds and the Thousand Islands Public Library Board and hosts the collections of the Leeds and the Thousand Islands Historical Society and the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands Municipal Heritage Committee. Our mandate is” to acquire, preserve, promote and make available the historical record of the Township …” Our collection includes every type of documentary material imaginable… letters, diaries, municipal documents, maps, artifacts, and of course, photographs. We also provide help with research, especially in the fields of genealogy, property research, and cultural tourism and archival conservation.
Visit us virtually through our websites at http://www.ltiarchives.ca/ and http://www.lakesandislands.ca for our online digital collection, or drop in person during our open hours, usually Thursday afternoons and other posted times. The Archives will also be open during the” Christmas at Springfield House” celebration, Saturday, Dec. 1 where you are invited to drop by with material to scan.
By Pierre Mercier, curator Leeds an the Thousand islands Archives.
Pierre Mercier is archivist of the Leeds & the Thousand Islands Archives - a partnership between the Leeds & 1000 Islands Historical Society, Municipal Heritage Committee, and Leeds and the Thousand Islands Public Library. He is a retired librarian and secondary school teacher. He is co-chair of The Municipal Heritage Committee and serves on the Library Board and the Historical society. Pierre and his wife, Joy, live in Escott in their 1844 stone house.