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On Becoming an Archivist

It’s been about a month since the latest provincial lockdown ended for our region, and about a month that Museum & Archives staff have been back in the building. Working from home feels like a distant memory, and thankfully so – the last month has brought about so many new learning opportunities for me here at the Archives! Since being back, my greatest feat has been finishing arranging and describing my third fonds, an arduous but rewarding task, taking boxes of unorganized materials and establishing a file folder for each item down to the last scrap of paper, making sure that each item is retrievable by researchers.

I have also finished digitizing a collection of oral history tapes, a series of interviews originally recorded on cassette tapes, where students spoke with residents of Amherst Island in the 1980’s about their experiences growing up on the island. These cassette tapes, readable by fleeting technology, are now saved in .mp3 format in the Archives’ digital vault. Along the way, between flipping from side A to B, I have had the chance to listen to some of these unique and heartfelt stories about rural island life throughout the twentieth century. 

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In addition to completing these two projects, I have gained a number of practical processing skills. I have learned how to digitize glass plate negatives, transforming cloudy inverse images on rugged pieces of glass into lovely black and white photographs of early twentieth century L&A. The task seemed daunting at first, but with careful handling, a scanner equipped with a transparency unit which allows light to penetrate through the negative, and a tad bit of photo editing, the results were a success. 

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I have also been busy encapsulating fragile textual records, most recently a collection of broadsides. Encapsulation is simply  the act (or perhaps art) of smoothly securing a paper item between two sheets of stable plastic with double-sided tape, giving support and rigidity to the paper to avoid potential damage during handling, while protecting the item from dust and other environmental stressors. 
I recently learned how to accession, which is just a fancy word for processing new items coming into the collections. Inputting the necessary paperwork into our database and describing the items coming into the Archives’ care to ensure no provenance details or information from the donor is lost in the process. I have had a lot of fun collaborating with the museum too, finding records that support the museum artifacts that will be on exhibit in late spring… 

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Lastly, one of my recent responsibilities at the Archives, and what I am most excited about, is responding to research requests. I have to say, this is what drives me to work in the archives field! It is so satisfying when someone comes to you, whether it be with vague ponderings about their family’s lineage or something specific like locating a loved one’s obituary in a back issue of a newspaper, and you are able to help bring that researcher one step closer to understanding their family’s history. Questions about land are neat too, people looking for information on a specific home or property, curious about farming or industry that may have taken place in their neighbourhood, looking to history to connect further with the place that they live. Responding to research requests has had me bouncing around the PastPerfect database, the vault, and the reading room – pouring over history books and genealogies, searching for one specific person or piece of history, gaining a deeper knowledge of the Archives’ holdings in the process. I continue to be impressed by the wealth of information that is available to the public just at this one small municipal archives! It is pretty amazing. 

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My time here at the Archives may be coming to an end soon, but I feel so lucky to have gained so many new skills and to have had such a valuable work experience with incredibly dedicated staff and volunteers that work so hard to maintain this vibrant public institution.

Back to Where the Artifacts Are

I am happy to say that I am writing this blog from my desk actually inside the museum building. Cue celebratory fireworks! Having travelled through the twilight zone of working from home for the first time, I have come out the other side refocused, reenergized, and really really happy to be back.

I thought I’d talk a little bit about what I actually did at home considering the very valid question of “how do you inventory furniture without access to the furniture?” My first couple weeks were getting to dig deeper into the furniture I had already inventoried, this entailed cleaning up their database entries, and researching into the history of these artifacts. This in an effort to get them ready to upload onto our online searchable collection. One of my favorites, is a unique little stool that not only illustrates Victorian style, but is made with animal horns, and how neat is that? The history of this stool can be found here

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After I had worked my way through all the furniture I had already inventoried, I got to take a break and stretch my digitally creative muscles. Working with the curator I helped create new designs for our information panels in the lower courtyard. Eventually I got to research a variety of other artifacts from within our collection including textiles, dishware, and a WWII gas mask. All told it was an interesting experience that I’m hoping will not be repeated in the near future, but in times like these I’m not getting my hopes up too high, and my home office area will remain setup.

Now though, out of pajamas, into the office chair, and ready to go, I am getting back into the swing of things. Coming back to the museum I was delightfully reminded of how close I am to inventorying the final piece of furniture on my list, 22 artifacts to go, to be exact. This may seem like a lot but considering this inventory encompasses 216 artifacts, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

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Now having been back at the museum for a few days I am reminded of the care that goes into each and every artifact, even with an inventory of this size. For every artifact I have done a hand written assessment where the artifact is described in detail, measured, all condition concerns noted, and photos taken. Using the information and photos, I create a report on the artifact, which includes all the information and photos from the assessment, with the addition of any history and significance that is known about the artifact. The information is then organized into a category such as ‘farming equipment’ or ‘desks’ in one document, and is organized by date in another. Finally that artifact’s entry in our database is updated to include the new information. After all that I get the satisfaction of knowing I helped it on its way to telling its Lennox and Addington County story.

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One artifact I truly enjoyed working with since I’ve been back at the museum is a withers yoke. I had the chance to do some research into what exactly that was, besides a yoke that sat on a whither. First off I got to learn what an ox is. I bet anyone who’s grown up on a farm is having a good chuckle at that, but when I hear ox I think musk ox. It turns out those two aren’t even living in the same house on the tree of life but are a branch or two away. But just incase you too are not familiar with cattle, an oxen is a castrated male cattle. These ox and their yokes had a huge impact on Canada up until the 20th century. The docility, low center of gravity, and brute strength of oxen helped Canadian’s clear land, plow fields and more. Just a few fun facts you can share while you’re waiting for your virtual meetings to start!

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Overall I am thrilled to be back among the artifacts, and reminded of what a privilege it is to get to help take care of our county’s history! 

What’s a CD? (And other hard questions at home)

And other hard questions at home

Here we are again, at home, wondering how we all ended up in the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day. If you missed JoAnne’s blog about her experience working from home, make sure to check it out. Below is a picture of my workstation at home. Between JoAnne and I, our home offices are very different.

Yes, I am using a folding card table tucked into the corner of my bedroom where I hide from my young children lest they figure out I’m in the house working away on the digital side of my job as archivist. The table has a soft top forcing my choice in coffee mugs to be a very important one (strong base needed).

A huge part of the digital side of what we do is uploading records for our collection into the online database. Michelle Barclay, our archival intern, and I are working on getting as many photographs online as possible. I won’t go into too much detail here but we’re adding records every week to the database,so keep watching.

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Where the magic happens at home and an example of what can be discovered in our online database.

This time tucked away with my card table has also given me an opportunity to delve into how the archives moves forward with a digital preservation plan. Before I lose you, let me explain. We want our digital records to be accessible long after the technology required to access them is obsolete. Think VHS players. What do you do with a VHS tape without a VHS player? Unless you’re lucky enough to have the technology to convert a VHS tape to a digital file, you pay an expert to do it. What happens when the digital technology becomes obsolete to play those converted VHS files, and so on, and so on, you get the point. A preservation plan ensures that the digital files are always accessible to you, the people for which we collect and preserve the stories of Lennox and Addington.

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The chest at the end of my bed holding decades worth of records in varying formats.

This project got me thinking about my own records. From the card table, I stare at the chest that holds my personal and family archive every day. One evening I opened the chest and pulled out CDs that contain digital photographs from my travels between 2004 and 2008. I lived in South Korea at that time, and travelled much of Southeast Asia. You can imagine the immense loss I would feel if the technology to view those went obsolete. We do strange things in the moment sometimes, like printing out hundreds of photographs because we don’t have a digital preservation plan (in my defense, I was a year away from starting my archival education when I did this).

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When I pulled the CDs out of the box, I exclaimed, “oh, the photograph CDs” to which my daughter asked, “What’s a CD?” 

Tough question. I lazily made up some jargon about how it holds information, could be music, could be photographs but she’s five. I could’ve told her it was a portal to Disney World and got the same response: glazed eyes and skipping feet right out of the room. Luckily, about four years ago, when my laptop at the time had a CD port, I transferred these photographs to an external hard drive (no more printing!). And guess what the experts say about the lifespan of an external hard drive? Five years. FIVE YEARS! 

What do we do with this stuff when CD and DVD ports don’t come standard on laptops anymore and external hard drives have a short lifespan? The best we can, that’s what. You make bad decisions like printing photographs as a means of preservation and evaluate that plan a decade later. Right now, for me, it’s hoping the five year lifespan on an external hard drive is a worst case scenario with a transfer of files to a new hard drive in a few years. For the Lennox and Addington County collection, we ensure its longevity with the right technology that can bring it into the future. We will find a way to catapult the two hundred plus year old collection into the future two hundred years from now.

Why do I still have CDs and printed photos plus digital copies on a hard drive? Hard to let the backups go, I guess. I’ll keep plugging away at the L&A Archives digital preservation plan while keeping notes for future work on my own.

Homework 2.0

Confessions of a Curator

Well hello again, you caught me…I am wearing my leggings again and passing them off as pants for the third week in a row, at various times in those weeks, I have quite honestly have lost what day it is, and have had to seek those answers from my new co-workers, Molly (my terrier mix) and Rory (my cat), they don’t usually answer me back and they also don’t know much about collections management or exhibit design…so some days my struggle for real feedback is real! 


I came home the last week of December to prepare for this second lockdown by shoving my daughter’s art supplies to one side of her art table in the kid’s playroom, and carved out a 3 x 4 space to call my office for the next little while. Yes, I work among American Girl dolls, toy food, art books, bottle and bottles of paint and glue. However, while I work among Anna’s colourful art, I find I can lost in my work day, so I sigh a bit of relief.

Thankful to our I.T. Department and my VPN connection that allows me continued access to our museum database. Working from home means – cleaning up collection entries and prepping them for their online launch, or I could be seen on another Zoom call to meet with the museum team, organize incoming exhibit installations, or participating in educational webinars and training sessions. In the last week, I have even delved into a new software to help me work on some interpretative labels for museum exhibits. I am not a graphic designer, but I dabble, and it gives me a break from collections management. 

So while I juggle my work day, I have two school aged children who also need my support, they need help – logging into their virtual classrooms, uploading assignments, checking math work, advising subject matters, finding online resources, and they also need lunch!  Believe me these kids want to eat all the time, I have devised some buffet style eating in my kitchen that has been a life saver!  If food is out, I will be left alone. Note to parents: now is a good time to teach your child how to start a load of laundry and cook a simple meal! 


In the past few weeks, Alannah and I have managed to get 60 more objects online for you to enjoy. As you know, this past Fall, we have been working on the inventory of the furniture collection. While we are working from home, we have managed to continue to do our review of these records and get some of their stories out there.  The lockdown has afforded us the gift of time to tidy the database. What does this mean to you?  It means updated search terms, correct spellings, photographs (we have over 2500 object images online), and the inclusion of a relevant object story (aka why do we have this). This editing takes time. Each object can take 3-4 days to complete. Which is why there aren’t 1000s of our museum records out there yet…quality takes time. Take a look at this one in PastPerfect.

Stages of an Object1.jpgWorking from home is just that – work. I continue to work away at Past Perfect, sort out the museum exhibit schedule that has been continuously bumped around by COVID, revamp design labels for our existing exhibits, and support the museum team through written blogs, social media posts, webinar courses, and grant writing.  While closed, the museum remains quite active behind the scenes. We continue to plan for when the doors re-open and onsite everything returns.  

Things I miss – TRAVEL and SUMMER! I was an avid traveller and fully intend to be again. I miss the excitement of discovering new things and while I love my backyard, some days it just doesn’t cut it. So I have discovered the joy of virtual vacationing, which has only added to my bucket list of things to visit.  Here is a great article that will perhaps lead you down a few rabbit holes of enjoyment – The 12 Best Virtual Vacations You Can Take From Your Home ( 

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Health Tips from your trusty Curator – go for a walk, step away from your screens, eat fresh fruits and vegetables, try a virtual yoga class, call a friend, and yes it’s okay to sometimes scream into your pillow!  

So for the time being , check out our website for online research resources, contact us if you need help. Amber has some online programming up her sleeve to keep you entertained at home too. I will “see” you one way or the other very soon, take good care and stay safe! 

Starting the New Year (not quite at the museum)

As we all look toward what 2021 will bring, I am reminded of a new year’s eve toast made by one of my favorite TV characters; Sherman T. Potter of M*A*S*H*. While the quote has nothing to do with museums I thought I’d share it none the less; “Here’s to the New Year. May she be a [darn] sight better than the old one” I think the sentiment of this quote is on everyone’s mind as we celebrate this year in lockdown. However, as a very hard headed believer that the glass is half full if you only look at it from the right angle, I am determined to believe that 2021 will end in higher spirits than 2020.

Now while Covid-fatigue has returned right in time for the holidays, I am still jazzed to get to continue working for the museum over the winter. For the time being by work station is being moved from the museum to my home, where my new co-workers are a goofy 2 year old pup named Maggie who does not necessarily respect personal space in the office, and a ridiculously photogenic little gecko name Cheeko. Having never worked from home, I am going to be frantically Googling tips for remaining focused, but I am looking forward to giving it a go. 

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However, bringing it back to the museum I am excited to say I am coming down to the last dozen or so artifacts in the furniture inventory, and because I’m a little astounded by the number I’m going to put it here: as of late December, 188 artifacts have been identified, located, photographed, and their condition’s assessed. This collection has included a diversity of artifacts from settees, to washing machines, to tea trolleys, and as of right now has included a whopping 49 chairs, and 13 desks. I have learned what melodeons, dough troughs, and mortisers look like, as well as a variety of other pieces of furniture. This project has included getting to learn not only a significant amount about the community but also about the museum itself. I found a group of chairs that were used in the reading room when the it was located in the upstairs, now office portion of the museum. I hadn’t visited the museum and archives before it was renovated and the new section built, so this was a really interesting glimpse into what the building used to look like.

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This project has not been without its frustrations though. I remember I came across about 10 artifacts in a row, one week, which had no numbers on them, possibly because they were once on exhibit or for other reasons. When I come across an artifact without an associated number it’s time to don my detective cap and go to work; meaning it’s time to search the database for a description that would fit the artifact. Sometimes this only requires me to search a very specific key word and read through maybe a dozen records, however sometimes there are no specific features to search so I need to read through every, record that is associated with the term chair, for example, and believe me there are a lot. All frustrations in mind, I couldn’t think of a job I’d rather be doing! It has been a fantastic experience to get to know a collections so closely, and boy have I gotten good at identifying esoteric pieces of furniture, a skill I am certain will serve me well as my career moves forward.

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To everyone, may 2021 bring you a glass that is more than half full.

Remembering From a Distance 

A young soldier’s letter collection reminds us why being apart for Remembrance Day matters

Remembrance Day ceremonies and events are not immune to COVID-19 and will be different this year. The National Ceremony Committee in Ottawa is discouraging crowds to gather in person, and the Napanee ceremony around the cenotaph at the Courthouse is moving to a streaming platform. Typing those words feels cold and disrespectful but for the service men and women we honour on this day, it’s exactly right. They fought and fight for the safety of Canadians, and we need to do the same.

There are many ways to honour veterans and the fallen outside of traditional ceremonies. Our vaults here at the Museum and Archives are evidence of that. We have everything from uniforms and boots worn by a local soldier to photographs and war correspondence. By preserving the objects and records that tell their stories, we’re always doing our part to ensure those stories live on and are remembered.


2019.10.01  Artillery boots, William Beeman, 1914-1918
N-1811  Hazel H. Denyes, nursing sister [1916]
N-1832  Alfred Eklund of Newburgh, [1915]

Years ago, while researching a topic on the Second World War, I stumbled on a collection of letters written by Roland James Saundercook, a young man in active service for the Royal Canadian Air Force, and I have never forgotten them. His letters written home to his family are, at first glance, a mundane account of weather and troop movements. Dig deeper and you start to realize Roland Saundercook, not yet 20 years old, is feeling homesick and dreaming of the time spent with his family in Collins Bay. 

“How is Joannie coming at school now I hope good, sometimes I wish I was trotting 2 miles to the old school. I did[n’t] realize it then, but I had a lot better time then, then I do now and how.”



Letter, Roland J. Saundercook to his family, October 20, 1944

Included with Roland’s letters is correspondence between various war offices and his family. Roland and his flight crew were missing in action over Germany after a nighttime flight exercise in March, 1945. The family received heartbreaking telegrams and letters about their missing son and the efforts the military was taking to locate him. In the following years, the family did everything in their power to locate Roland by submitting packages of information to various war offices, hoping a member of personnel in some office, somewhere, might connect the dots and send word Roland was found safe and sound. It wasn’t until March 4th, 1948, that the family finally received confirmation their son was killed in a crash that fateful night three years earlier in Germany when his plane went missing.



Roland J. Saundercook outside his house in Collins Bay
Royal Air Force Station letter about missing air crew, March 17, 1945
Royal Canadian Air Force letter about Missing Research and Enquiry Service, March 4, 1948

Few people have read Roland’s letters. It is with great honour and deep respect that we share those letters here. These letters don’t tell the complete story of Roland Saundercook or the trauma his family endured, but a morning spent with his entire collection here will.

This Remembrance Day, truly honour the legacy of service women and men like Roland Saundercook and their families, by staying home, staying safe, and watching a live stream ceremony. 

Just ZOOMing Along

Confessions of a Curator

As a person who is reluctant to engage in much technology, this COVID world of streaming everything has kick started my anxiety sky high. While I understand our need for digital connections, my need for real world experiences weighs heavily as I struggle with the balance. To Zoom or Not To Zoom is the question these days.


I am a history nerd to the max, I like to read a lot, I like to roam other museums, antique stores, used bookstores, and I enjoy CBC radio over television. Further to this, I cannot even tell you what is “binge worthy” and 6 months ago if you had asked me to Zoom anywhere, I would have assumed you wanted me to walk faster or join a fitness class!

My whole life is about unplugging and disconnecting.  If it requires me avoiding large gatherings, working by myself or in small teams, and burying my nose in a book, I am your gal.  So honestly, COVID and I are kind of made for each other.  Don’t get me wrong, I do engage, I have meaningful conversations, I like to laugh, and enjoy an afternoon coffee with friends…but I am BIG on the retreat back to solitude.

COVID has quieted our halls but the reality is that museums need people. We exist for people to come in and gaze, wonder, learn, and imagine. We are the place that wants to inspire and remind you of all the special things that the world around you values.  What is a museum curator to do when people stop coming? I have been thrown into a world where my very job is now reliant on me learning how to plug in and connect – how do I do this?  If the masses cannot come out to enjoy the collection on site, then I have to bring the collection to the masses.  This means things like Facebook and Instagram Lives, YouTube, and Zoom everything….cue my hives and nervous tick now!


In the past 6 months, we have had to modify museum visitation- this includes how you experience exhibits, the Reading Room, and programs. We are now appointment based, we have removed contact points in the exhibits, we wear masks, and we have worked through about a thousand Zoom calls to figure this out.  Do you have any idea what planning an entire exhibit through Zoom is like? 


In the meantime, I have been busy working behind the scenes. The quiet has given me time to clean up parts of the collection – we finished a significant conservation project with our textile collection this summer. We inventoried, wrapped, and photographed most of our quilt collection (105 items) and uploaded these images to our online database which you can check out here.

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A rather overwhelming project we have started is the inventory of the furniture collection.  The cleaning and sorting of 100s of these large objects is daunting.  Confirming associated provenance, applying missing accession numbers, updating the database and organizing the storage room is a big job. Funding from Young Canada Works has allowed me to hire a graduate intern to help me carry this heavy load. This project will take several months to complete. 


As you can see, I am trying to balance the pull between online and unplugged. It seems like a fine line between my sanity and insanity. I go home fatigued and worried that the museum will somehow become irrelevant, which I guess just pushes me harder to get the collection out there in different ways. I hope this virus soon passes, I miss the noise and bustle of the museum. This time of year is always the  busiest with hundreds of school kids visiting us…there is a melancholy to the museum halls right now.  

WE ARE OPEN, we miss you, and book your visit today we have a couple new exhibits waiting for you.  Be sure to check us ZOOMing along with our digital holiday programs coming very soon!

A Glimpse into an Artifact Inventory

It is baffling how much goes on behind the scenes in museums, so I thought I’d bring you along while I go through the steps of an inventory for a single artifact. This single artifact is part of the larger furniture inventory happening at the museum. First off, why would a museum be doing an inventory? This is one of those questions that has a million correct answers but more than anything else the answer is because it’s a good idea. By doing in-depth inventories we can make sure we know exactly where each artifact is, we can track potential damage, and we can make sure our database reflects up to date information about the artifact.

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Let’s look at one of the trunks in the furniture collection. The first step for the artifact is to find the Object ID number. Museum artifacts have a unique number associated with them, these numbers are always very small and are located in a discreet location, making them quite tricky to find at times. Once I’ve identified the artifact, I measure the trunk and describe it in enough detail that it can be recognized. Next the location of the trunk is recorded so that the next person who is looking for it knows exactly where to find it.

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Following this is I look over the artifact making notes on its condition. Are there dents? Scratches? Stains? A centimeter by centimeter inspection is completed of the artifact until every area of damage has been located, described, measured, and photographed. Artifacts have usually had a long life before coming to the museum and often have signs of wear and tear; we describe any damage present on the artifact so we can track its condition across time. 

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All the information and photographs of the artifact are put into one document called a Condition Report. This allows museum staff to look just at the one document and know exactly what artifact it is, its number, where to find it, and what condition it’s in. The final steps are to update our electronic database with anything new about the artifact, and add the artifacts story, gathered from the database, to the condition report.

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This process will be repeated for much of the furniture in the museum’s collection, including every piece in the Gibbard Gallery, on display at the museum. This is definitely not a quick process but 55 artifacts in and I still think it’s incredible that I get to work closely with such a diverse collection.

Cold through the ages

An L&A Archives dive into the “winter” records

February: master of deception with its bright but frigid days. A 95 year old member of my family once told me that February is the sunniest month of the year. She obviously wasn’t talking about my disposition as I stared blankly at her, disbelieving. She’s 95 and has seen her fair share of Februaries, maybe this is the year I trust more. I just can’t get July out of my head whenever I think about this…

Sunniest or not, February is cold, and people here in Lennox and Addington County have known all about surviving and thriving in the frigid winter months. Some folks like George Detlor (1794-1883) even understood what it meant to survive and thrive in those months not traditionally thought to be frigid. One of Detlor’s diaries spans from 1822-1849, and his entries for May 1834 paint an interesting, albeit frightening, picture for that month:

  • 13  Last night and this morning snowing 2 inches all go off by night
  • 14  snowing again
  • 15  snow and frost  Icesickles [sic] 1 foot long

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MAY! Foot long icicles! 

Of course people deal with the cold in their own ways. For instance, I like to wear what are clearly spring/summer clothes with sweaters and pretend winter’s not happening. Incidentally, you now have insight into how I feel about spending money on clothes for one season. And if you’re this guy, you do the logical thing and turn parts of an airplane into a snow machine.

N-6212   Airplane modified into snow machine, [192-?]. Lennox and Addington Historical Society Collection

We don’t know much about this fellow and his winter death trap. Please feel free to get in touch if you do. This may or may not be Lennox and Addington County but how could I leave this shot out?

Winter clothing and fashion through time is just as fascinating as an airplane snow machine. Winter clothing today looks almost summery next to the billowing, heavy dresses and muffs of the past. Fur had its day in the sun (not really in the sun but I’m still pretending winter’s not happening), and there’s plenty of proof of that in our photograph collection. 

Left: N-2482  Unidentified woman in winter overcoat, carrying fur muff, [1864]. Stephen Benson Photograph Collection.
Middle: N-2955  Elbert and Russ Kellar in winter coats, [1910]. LAHS Collection.
Right: N-5345  Tom Mills, 1935. Plumley Family Photograph Collection.

Spring is around the corner and the bulky coats and hats will be returned to the basement closets. There will be a spring in our steps (pun intended), and the birds will come alive with song. Sunny February will be replaced with even sunnier months – July is obviously sunnier than February! Winter is hard but at least we have heaters in our winter vehicles now. 


Broadsides, bibles and annual reports, oh my!

Setting goals to ensure longevity of archival records and their stories

On CBC radio last week they interviewed a guest, a specialist in career shifts and big life changes. Normally, I have one ear on the radio, the other on the circus that is my house, but the change guru got my full attention when describing the usefulness of setting goals over stating New Year’s resolutions. As soon as you set an end point plus an evaluation measure, it’s a goal not an aimlessly thrown out resolution floating in the ether. 

We tend to float resolutions but I have a goal in mind for the archives this year, and it involves the entire community. It’s a goal with a major challenge to be sure; measuring its success will, to some extent, be based on arbitrariness. 

So can it be a goal with no clear end measure? I think so in this case. The goal is this: take every opportunity possible to involve the community in the continued growth of the archival collection. This seems obvious since the community is already involved in our growth – to the tune of about 90% of the annual acquisitions come from the community – but I want to make sure to reach as many community members as possible. In fact, the Lennox and Addington Historical Society started this off when it first organized way back in 1907:

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They were successful in their bid for furnishing their space as seen in the top image. And certainly successful in their bid for textual records as evidenced in the Lennox and Addington Historical Society Early Collection now at the archives.

I’m taking the risk of sounding like a toddler who just had a snack worthy of a pro wrestler but is somehow still hungry. We receive generous donations from the community already, the problem, I fear, is that the records we seek, the records that tell a part of the Lennox and Addington County story, are not clearly identified. Who wants an old photograph of the family from Croydon or a letter written by Aunt Florence about the apple orchard they harvest each fall? We do! 

My colleague JoAnne very succinctly described her goal of “de-growing” the Museum collection but we’re looking in the opposite direction (a photograph takes up way less storage space than a piano!). I won’t repeat what JoAnne notes about the gaps in the Museum collection – you can read her blog yourself here – but I will say the Archives has similar gaps in the records we hold. 

In 2019, the community left us with very interesting items that I would like to highlight here. This is not a highlight reel of the most important records we received because they are ALL IMPORTANT. I’ve chosen to highlight three unique in format and stories they tell.

Centreville Broadside

Saturday, September 29, 1900, the Camden Agricultural Exhibition was held at Centreville. All early agricultural societies with their fairs and exhibitions had the aim of improvement of farming methods, and prizes were given out to the best in many categories: horses, cattle, poultry, pigs, sheep, fruit, vegetables, grain, and farm implements and manufactures. From 1853 until 1893, the Centreville Fair was held on the road side in the village with use of the town hall. John B. Alysworth was secretary-treasurer for the first fifty years, then Joe Tate until 1920.

This broadside is a fantastic example of a record produced by area agricultural societies and complements other agricultural collections at the archives. For example, a minute book of the Addington County Agricultural Society, 1853-1873 that also contains membership lists from 1853-1867, and prize lists from 1853 to 1864. We also hold a minute book of the Lennox Agricultural Society, 1853 – 1856.

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Left:  Centreville Broadside  
Middle: Addington Agricultural Society, partial list of members for 1853  
Right: Prize List, Horses, from Centreville Fair, 1980

Hannah McDowall bible

Reverend Robert McDowall (1768-1841) clergyman of the Reformed Protestant Dutch and Presbyterian churches, came to the Bay of Quinte area in 1790 and organized congregations in Ernesttown, Adolphustown, and Fredericksburgh townships, settling in the latter (Sandhurst) by 1800. For more than 40 years, McDowall preached, performed marriages and spread the doctrine of Presbyterianism across central Upper Canada. In December, 1800, McDowall married Hannah Washburn, daughter of Ebenezer Washburn a United Empire Loyalist from New York, and they had one daughter and three sons. 

Robert McDowall died in 1841, and is buried in the McDowall Memorial Cemetery, Sandhurst. Upon his death, the “Widow and Family” of McDowall were presented a bible from the Synod of Canada in January, 1842. Amazingly, members of Hannah’s family kept the bible for generations, and subsequently donated it to us this past summer. For a more extensive biography of Reverend McDowall, see


Left: Dedication in Hannah McDowall’s Bible presented to her in 1842 after her husband’s death
Middle: Marriage certificate signed by Reverend Robert McDowall, 1817
Right: McDowall Memorial Church, South Fredericksburgh, LAHS Collection, L&A Museum and Archives. Robert and Hannah McDowall are both buried in the cemetery visible to the left of the church.

United Church of Canada, the Enterprise Pastoral Charge Annual Reports, 1948-1954

Still in use today, the United Church of Canada, Enterprise, has been in operation since 1892. Throughout its history, the Enterprise Pastoral Charge has included churches in Centreville, Desmond, Fifth Lake, and Enterprise-Roblin which includes Marlbank, Lime Lake, Ebenezer, and Tamworth. 

The annual reports donated to the archives are a treasure trove of local families, thus a fantastic resource for genealogical studies, and church and clergy history. Included on the cover of each report is an in memoriam list for that year, again, a very useful source for genealogical research.


Cover and pages from the 1948 Enterprise Pastoral Charge Annual Report

These are only three of the donations received in 2019 but three that demonstrate the various types of records we hold and that are always welcome. And like the Lennox and Addington Historical Society said in 1907, we collect “materials of historical interest in order that these documents may be properly cared for.” Next time you’re cleaning house, keep us in mind for records you have no use for anymore – if those records help tell the story of Lennox and Addington County and its people, we probably want them.


1.    The Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies (OAAS). The Story of Ontario Agricultural Fairs and Exhibitions, 1792-1967. OAAS, 1972.

Museum hours

Monday – Saturday: 10am – 5pm

*closed on holiday weekend Saturdays and Mondays

Archives hours

Monday – Friday: 10am – 12pm* & 1 – 4pm

*closed from 12 –  1pm 

Macpherson House & Park hours

Tuesday – Thursday, 1 – 4pm in July & August

Holiday Hours 2024

June 29 – July 1: Closed (Canada Day Weekend)
July 4: Closed (only Macpherson House open)
July 5: 10am – 12pm (staff professional development)
August 3 – 5: Closed (Civic Holiday Weekend)
August 31 – September  2: Closed (Labour Day Weekend)

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97 Thomas St E, Napanee, ON K7R 4B9

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180 Elizabeth Street, Napanee, ON K7R 1B5

Labour Day Weekend Hours

Please note that the Museum & Archives will be closed from Saturday, September 2nd - Monday, September 4th for the Labour Day long weekend.

Regular hours will resume on Tuesday, September 5th.
Have a great long weekend!