Dundas County Archives welcomes input . . .

The above photo of Morrisburg's Main Street back in the day was originally captured on black and white film, taken by George Smith in the early to mid 1950's. It is one of a collection we were provided by Mr. Smith some years ago following an afternoon of camera talk and photo gizmos that were just beginning to flood the market. We recently took the liberty of adding the color to this one, most of it from memory, although the cars are correct according to original color swatches made available on various web sites. However, this is what the pre-St. Lawrence Seaway, Morrisburg Main Street looked like in the mid-1950's.

     We recall quite vividly being awe struck every time we walked by the bank on the left. Our age then found those columns so impressive, and the walk was always perfectly clean in front of that building. Since posting this photo we've been reminded that Allie Prunner was the caretaker and sidewalk sweeper at the bank, and he and his wife, Mary, lived on the second floor of the building. Mary was a seamstress in those days, and while the bank was open for business,  Allie would regularly sit on the cement squares out front and greet customers, more as people in rural communities tended to do.

     The folks  at the emerging Dundas County Archives location in Iroquois, are interested in gathering photos, papers and anecdotes as in the above paragraph. And Mr. Smith's extensive collection of timely photographs do evoke such memories. The very reason we added colored to this one is to test if, in fact, it would help to produce more information. And it did almost immediately, with the name of the bank caretaker. That from a source who was a youngish businessman at the time, and who is nearing 90 years of age today.

     These photos, and these accompanying anecdotes are of great interest to the folks at Dundas County Archives, and more would be welcomed, hopefully becoming part of a growing collection of historic information.  The good news is that you can email them your information, anecdotes, facts.          - More about Dundas County Archives here . . .


5 College Street or P.O. Box 58

Iroquois ON  

K0E 1K0

email: dundascountyarchives@gmail.com

 

Web pages

https://southdundas.com/residents/dundas-county-archives/

https://northdundas.com/town-hall/clerk/dundas-county-archives

 

Telephone: 613 669 0719

 

     We are currently open on a part-time schedule. Please drop in on Tuesday 9:00 am  - 4:00 pm

All other times by appointment – please email me when you are looking to come in.

 

Note: We are temporarily closed to public access under the direction of the municipality and the Eastern Ontario Health Unit. In the meantime we encourage you to check out any of those family collection boxes you've been wondering about. Go over the items and send us an email. We can help you in choosing your support of the Dundas County Archives collection . . .

 

Do you have an interesting story to tell?

     If you have stories to tell about the history, places, the businesses and the people of Dundas County, we would love to have you share it with us.  We believe it is a perfect way for us to add to the collective history of the region.

     We have binders of local history in the reading room and we would love to build these with more stories.

 

Donations: 

     We do accept donations of photos, documents, books, videos and other materials as long as it pertains to the history of Dundas County.

 

Future Topics for guest lectures or workshops:

 Please let us know what topics would be of interest to you for a “tea and talk” or an invited guest speaker.  What workshops would be of interest?

Possible workshop titles:

The care of heirlooms, such as photos or documents.

How to search  the digitized newspapers.

How to research your home prior to Seaway construction.

How to navigate the land records.

 

 

Who does the Dundas County Archives serve?

     The Dundas County Archives is jointly supported by the Township of North Dundas and the Municipality of South Dundas. Our mission is to collect, arrange, preserve and make available to researchers the records of Dundas County.  While the central focus is to operate as a municipal archive, in compliance with the Municipal Act, we do also collect documentary heritage pertaining to the businesses, community groups, individuals and historical organizations within the region of Dundas County.  This becomes the collective memory of our region.  

     Our clients are municipal staff, as well as individuals who wish to conduct research into their local history. We have many researchers who travel quite a distance in order to research their family history.  

     We share facilities with the separate St Lawrence Branch of the United Empire Loyalists Family Research Centre.  This cooperative association helps to provide researchers with many resources unique to each of our facilities.  

     The objective in this role is to preserve records that enhance our understanding of history, the social fabric, natural and built environment, and the people who lived, worked and made significant contributions to the shaping of Dundas County. 

 

What does the Archives collect?

     Our focus is on collecting materials that pertain to this geographic era.  This includes records of community groups, schools, churches, businesses, individuals etc.  

     We are also building a record of the construction of the Seaway, life in the area prior to and after the St Lawrence Seaway was completed.

     We have records of early cabinet makers in the region.  Thanks to Upper Canada Village we also have census records, farming history, early newspapers, diaries, wills, surrogate court and probate records, Parliament Proceedings, and research reports on 1800’s history all on microfilm.

     We now have in our collections the original land records for Dundas County.  The digitized versions are searchable on the Service Canada web site but we house the originals.

     We have SOME records of men and women who served in the Boer War and the First and Second world wars from the local region.

     We have SOME early records and photos from schools in Morrisburg and Iroquois.

     We have the Women’s Institute Tweedsmuir scrap books for Iroquois, Matilda, South Mountain and Williamsburg

     We also have the types of records that are generated by a municipal government n our collections.  This would include tax assessment and collector rolls, consultant reports, minutes of Municipal councils, building permits, drains, as well as operational and financial files of municipal government.

     The types of materials that we collect does vary.  Many donated collections do come in mixed media, such as paper records, videos and photographs.  We are building a local history book library.  These include books about the region as well as local authors.  

 

What we do not collect?

     We generally do not have any histories of homes in the area.  One would have to come in to the archives to search through assessment rolls or building permits. As the focus of the Lynne Cook - St Lawrence Branch of the United Empire Loyalist is on family research, it is possible if you reach out to them they may be able to help you find information about your house through research into the people who lived in the home.

     We do have county atlases and some early maps, we have some of the original land records and we have other records that can confirm when a person lived in an area. 

     We do not, however, as yet, have histories of homes.

     We also do not collect items that are made of unstable or hazardous materials.  We collect materials that pertain to the area of Dundas County.

 

Thank you to our donors . . .

     I am very thankful to all of our donors.  The Dundas County Archives would not be here without your generosity. Our partners in the development of our facility have included Upper Canada Village who donated a large collection of microfilm newspapers, journals, research papers and census records as well as a microfilm reader, 

     The S D & G County Library has donated the originals of the Dundas County Land records. The Iroquois Branch of the S D & G County Library has donated a large collection of Iroquois local history scrap books, photos and other records.

     Alan Favreau has designed and built custom shelving for the United Empire Loyalists room as well as custom boxes for the archives photograph collection.  

     James Jordan lovingly restored a large collection of local trophies and donated them to the archives along with the cabinet to display them in.  He also donated numerous ledgers, pictures and paintings of historic importance.  

     Randy Vienotte has donated a large collection of ledgers from an early business of Morrisburg. 

     Pam French donated several book shelves and a computer.

     Stephen Law has donated a collection of photos and other materials pertaining to Iroquois history and the Seaway.

     We have received cash donations from individuals such as Tom Kennedy, Donald Kunz as well as donations from the Lions Clubs and Legions of Dundas County.

     Evonne Delegarde has been a volunteer at the archives and has also generously donated many items of local interest over the last year. 

     The list of donors is  too long to report but all these donations are greatly appreciated and do help to preserve the history of Dundas County

Newspaper Digitization Project . . .

     Due to the very generous support of the United Counties Council, we have been funded for our Newspaper Digitization Project. We are also grateful for the financial support of the Iroquois, Morrisburg and Winchester Legions, as well as the Lions Clubs of Iroquois Matilda, Morrisburg and Mountain Township.  These organizations supported the purchase of archival supplies and we are truly indebted to them for assisting us in this preservation project. 

     To date, we have scanned and digitized about 31,000 pages of historic newspapers.  The plan is to digitize the historic newspapers of the county, throughout her history.  We have had access to the back issues of the Chesterville Record from 1902, the Winchester Press from 1918, The Iroquois Post, the Iroquois Chieftain, The Morrisburg Leader, the Morrisburg Banner, and the Dundas Courier and St Lawrence News, both dating into the 1800s.  Through the generous donation of newspapers, we have been able to fill many of the gaps that we had in the record. Unfortunately we only have one issue of the Mountain Herald, in 1905.

     This has been a labour intense project, between collecting, organizing and carefully piecing together the frail and brittle papers.  The end result will be an OCR (optical character Recognition) searchable collection which will give access to hundreds of years of local history.  Most of these papers provide information that is not available anywhere else. 

     Volunteers have assisted in this project.  The Dundas County Archives thanks Sandra Lee and Roger Johnson for saving the 60 odd years of Iroquois publishing history from the dumpster and donating these newspapers to us. Thank you to those who brought in even one or two issues to complete our collection.  Carol Montgomery and Howard and Leslie Kirkby have all been a huge assistance in organizing all of these papers.  These people have all been local history heroes.

     Evonne Delegarde has been very helpful in helping to sort papers. Thank you to the publishers of these local newspapers who have agreed to donate or loan us these historic records. The list is endless but all is appreciated.  This effort proves that it takes a village to complete such a huge project.  

     We have much more work to do to complete the Newspaper Digitization Project.  However, it will all be worth it if we can provide researchers with an invaluable and unique resource.

     Please note that these newspapers are not yet digitized and we do not as yet have access to the digital files.  I will certainly make updates as we get closer to this step of hosting the digital files to a web site. 

 

Showcasing Local History . . .

The "Empress of Ireland". In May 29, 1914 The Canadian Pacific steamship, the Empress of Ireland, collided with a Norwegian freighter near Quebec, sinking in 14 minutes and killing 1,012 people . . .

 

     In an effort to showcase Dundas County history, displays have been set up every few months in the exhibit case in the lobby of the Morrisburg Municipal Centre. To date we have a number of featured displays: 

     •  The Allison Family on the Titanic in April, 

     •  In  June the Royal visit to open the St Lawrence Seaway / 

     •  Dr Locke and his brand name shoes / 

     •  Food rationing in the area during the World Wars / 

     •  Dutch immigration to the area after the second world war 

     •  This month will feature a look at historic hockey teams in the area.

     Future displays will include George Jowett, Ken Carter, St Lawrence Iroquois archaeology sites in Williamsburg and Morrisburg, Lorne Mulloy.

 

     If you have any suggestions on future topics please do share by email.  Again, dundascountyarchives@gmail.com

     We plan to feature a display on the sinking of the Empress of Ireland in May 1914.  If you have any connection to Nettie Beckstead, who was lost in the sinking, we would love to hear from you.

 

     We are planning a display on Dr Marion Hilliard (left), (1902 – 1958) who was born and raised in Morrisburg but then went on to make huge inroads in women’s health on the International sphere.  We are also looking for any Hilliard family members still in the area as we are submitting a proposal to nominate her to the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.  If you are in her family, or know someone who is, please contact us.

 

Susan Peters,

Dundas County Archives