Official opening of the new Community Archives

Front window of the new Community Archives (photo by Robert House)

Front window of the new Community Archives (photo by Robert House)

April 7th saw the official opening of the Community Archives in its new location at 254 Pinnacle Street, Belleville, on the second floor of the Belleville Public Library. Around 100 people gathered in the John M. Parrott Art Gallery for the event, including MP for the Bay of Quinte (and former Mayor of the City of Belleville), Neil Ellis, shown here with Gerry Boyce in one of the Archives’ vaults, surrounded by boxes of Gerry’s own records and those of the Hastings County Historical Society.

Neil Ellis and Gerry Boyce

Neil Ellis, MP and Gerry Boyce (photo by Mark Fluhrer)

Mayor of the City of Belleville, Taso Christopher, kicked off the formal proceedings by thanking all those involved in developing the project to build a new archives and County of Hastings Warden, Rick Phillips, added his thanks. Both stressed the significance of the cooperation involved in bringing the construction work to completion. MP Ellis, Councillor Garnet Thompson, Chair of the Belleville Public Library Board and Richard Hughes, President of the Hastings County Historical Society also spoke.

Retired Archivist Sharon White received a certificate of appreciation for her work for the Archives.

Mayor Taso Christopher and archivist Sharon White (photo by Donna Fano)

Mayor Taso Christopher and archivist Sharon White (photo by Donna Fano)

As part of the event, it was announced that the new Archives reading room would be named the Gerry Boyce Reading Room, in honour of Gerry’s nearly 60-year association with the Historical Society and its collections. The audience gave Gerry a standing ovation.

Photo by Donna Fano

Announcing the Gerry Boyce Reading Room (photo by Donna Fano)

Chief Privacy Officer and Archivist of Ontario John Roberts addressed the room, welcoming the opening of the new archives and bringing some volumes of local records with him from the Archives of Ontario, including the second volume of minutes from the Town of Belleville, 1860-1870. Further local materials currently held at the Archives of Ontario will be returned to the Community Archives later this month.

John Roberts, Chief Privacy Officer and Archivist of Ontario. Photo by Robert House

John Roberts, Chief Privacy Officer and Archivist of Ontario (photo by Robert House)

Gerry cut the ribbon (well, the archival cotton tape), to officially open the Archives with broad smiles all round.

Ribbon cut (photo by Robert House)

By | April 16th, 2016|Move to Belleville Public Library, News|0 Comments

We have moved!

It has been a long process, but this week the Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County moved into its new, purpose-built location inside the Belleville Public Library.

Moving trucks filling up in Cannifton

Moving trucks filling up in Cannifton

Eight men and three trucks arrived at 154 Cannifton Road North on Monday morning, and by Wednesday lunchtime everything was safely transferred to the Library. We were lucky with the weather, managing to pick the three driest days of the past two weeks.

Archives on the move

Archives on the move

Covered wooden computer carts were used to move the archival volumes and small boxes, which had all been carefully colour-coded to show which vault they were going in to at the Library.

Carts ready to be filled

Carts ready to be filled

There were a lot of carts! Here are some of the boxes sitting on their new shelves:

Intelligencer negatives on their new shelves

Intelligencer negatives on their new shelves

The most challenging items to move were the eight map chests: these are very large and heavy and it took nearly all the moving team to get them onto dollies and then into place in the new reading room.

Installing the map chests

Installing the map chests

Our thanks to the movers for all their labours, and to the staff at Belleville Public Library for putting up with the construction work in their space for the past year and for being so helpful during our move.

Vaults B and C under construction

Vaults B and C under construction, August 2015

Special thanks are due to the Archives volunteers who worked incredibly hard to get everything ready for the move and to unpack materials at the Library during this past week. I hope they are all having a restful Easter weekend to recover!

By | March 25th, 2016|Move to Belleville Public Library, News|0 Comments

Wrapping and packing

The Archives is busy with preparations for the move next month. Fragile items such as old copies of The Intelligencer are being wrapped to protect them, while other records such as the Hastings County records in the picture below are being rehoused in archival-quality boxes which will fit on the shelves of our new space.

Wrapping and packing

We are in the process of assigning locations for all of our existing records in the new building: this has involved creating an inventory of everything we currently hold and a corresponding inventory of every shelf available in our new building. By doing this, we have identified some 2,500 boxes and volumes in our collection, with more than 1,300 shelves in the new building. Each shelf will be labelled with a unique number, and each box or volume will be assigned to a particular shelf and labelled with its destination. There are a lot of spreadsheets involved!

Our moving dates will be between March 21st and March 23rd, with the official opening of the new facility due to take place in Archives Awareness Week in April.

KeysWe took possession of the keys this week and are looking forward to opening our doors to the public in April. Watch this space for details of behind-the-scenes tours and other activities taking place in Archives Awareness Week.

By | February 22nd, 2016|Move to Belleville Public Library, News|0 Comments

A glimpse into our new space

New entrance to the Community Archives

New entrance to the Community Archives

The drywall divider between the public and the construction area of the new Community Archives has now been removed, allowing people on the second floor of Belleville Public Library to see into the new Archives reading room for the first time. Our reception desk has been built and IT connections are in the process of being hooked up. Work on packing up the archives in our current space is under way and we are looking forward to formally opening our doors in the new building in April.

By | January 12th, 2016|Move to Belleville Public Library, News|0 Comments

End of year thoughts

As 2015 comes to a close, I would like to thank all of the volunteers and students who have contributed to the work of the Community Archives this year. The Archives volunteers alone have contributed some 4,000 hours of work in sorting, boxing, listing and digitizing records. We have helped more than 300 visitors discover more about our community’s past and have answered over 450 telephone calls this year.

Our Young Canada Works summer students, Heather Malcolm and Nicholas VanExan, worked hard on a variety of processing jobs, including the Historical Society’s Textual Records series and Gerry Boyce’s records. They also added a number of descriptions to Ontario’s online archival network, Archeion. In the Fall, Loyalist co-op student Sydney Welch was busy digitizing some of our glass lantern slides and negatives, many of which are now available on Flickr.

In the first three months of 2016 we will be moving the archives into our new location in the Belleville Public Library. With over 2,500 boxes and volumes to shift, this is going to be a major undertaking and there will be periods in that time where the Community Archives will be closed to the public as we prepare materials for the move. We ask for your patience in this transition period: if you are planning a research trip, please leave it until after March, when we will be in our new space and better able to assist you!

In the meantime, I would like to wish you a peaceful and happy holiday season and leave you with this postcard, sent by ‘sister Lillie’ of Port Stanley to Duncan Morrison of Tweed in December 1910.

Christmas greeting

Christmas postcard (back)

Amanda Hill (Acting Archivist)

By | December 24th, 2015|Move to Belleville Public Library, News|0 Comments

Shelving going in

The storage areas of the new Community Archives’ space are now complete and the shelving is being constructed. This picture shows the first vault (what used to be the Canadiana Room in the Belleville Public Library) where the floor for the shelves is complete and the outer walls of the shelving have been built:

Mobile shelving, Vault 1

Below is the second vault, where the rails for the mobile shelves had been installed yesterday, with the raised wooden floor waiting to be put into place.

Floor rails for shelving, Vault 2

The building project is currently on time and on budget and we hope to be moving the Community Archives into this space early in 2016.

By | November 25th, 2015|Move to Belleville Public Library|0 Comments

New location: site progress

Work is continuing on the Community Archives’ new home within Belleville Public Library. In August the reading room area looked like this:

Reading room, Aug 14th, 2015

Today, the interior walls are taking shape:

Reading room progress, October 14th, 2015

Two months ago the larger of the two vaults on the second floor was more of a space than a room:

Vault 2, Aug 14th, 2015

Now it is looking like a place that might be useful for storing archives in the not-too-distant future!

Vault 2, Oct 14th, 2015

By | October 14th, 2015|Move to Belleville Public Library|0 Comments

Knee-deep in records

Thurlow Town Hall

Thurlow Town Hall

As we look forward to taking up new quarters in the Belleville Public Library, we take a backward glance at the Thurlow Town Hall, home to the Hastings County Historical Society and its collections for the past 13 years.
The hall was built in 1873 as the administrative centre for the township of Thurlow, now part of the City of Belleville. Gerry Boyce has found the following snippet recording the progress of the building in the Daily Intelligencer of August 26th, 1873:

Daily Intelligencer, August 26th, 1873

Daily Intelligencer, August 26th, 1873

TOWN AND VICINITY

The Township Clerk of Thurlow writes us that the new Town Hall in that Township is rapidly approaching completion, and that the work is very substantial and neat, and gives very general satisfaction.

The shield-shaped plaque on the front of the building notes that it was built by J.A. Northcott. John Northcott was born in Lapford, Devon, England in around 1805. He was a carpenter who came to Canada in 1853 and settled in Belleville, where he entered into partnership in with fellow Devonian, Walter Alford. They worked on a number of houses and other buildings in the town up to 1876, when Northcott retired. He died on December 26th, 1881 and the Daily Intelligencer obituary noted that he

was a true type of the better order of Englishman – outspoken, independent, yet concealing a heart as tender as that of a woman under a bluff exterior, and withal as honest as the day.

Plaque on Thurlow Township Hall

Plaque on Thurlow Township Hall

With amalgamation of the City of Belleville and the Township of Thurlow on January 1st, 1998, the building became available for use as the headquarters of the Hastings County Historical Society.
A plan of the building was drawn up in October 1998 by Gerry and Susie Boyce, with the help of Carson Cross. This item has recently been donated to the Community Archives as part of the extensive Gerry Boyce fonds it carries an intriguing section labelled ‘Mystery Area’.

Mystery area

The ‘mystery area’

Gerry tells us that this area was identified by the difference in measurements between the inside and outside walls of the building. Belleville’s Mayor of the time, Mary-Anne Sills, used a hammer to open up the wall and investigate the space. Blue duct tape remains on the wall as evidence of her handiwork.
This is not the first time that the internal walls of the building have been under attack: in February 1961 the wall of the vault was broken through by burglars looking for cash in the vault. The Ontario Intelligencer reported on the crime on February 7th, with photographs of the damage caused.

Ontario Intelligencer, February 7th, 1961

Ontario Intelligencer, February 7th, 1961

Ironically, the robbers could have saved themselves some work, as the vault was not locked at the time. Nor did it contain any cash, according to the Intelligencer’s report.

Ontario Intelligencer, February 7th, 1961

Ontario Intelligencer, February 7th, 1961

From an archivist’s point of view, it soon becomes apparent that the old building is far from ideal as a store for the unique materials which have been collected over the years by the Hastings County Historical Society. Signs around the place alert the occupants to some of the hazards:
Do not attempt to climb the stairs
Frozen pipes warning
The other key problem with the building is the space available to the Community Archives: the building has no barrier-free access and the shelves are all full-to-overflowing. We are not quite as knee-deep in records as the clerk was in 1961, but it feels like it, sometimes. In September we had to empty the former Irish Hall of records when that building was sold. Our colleagues at the Lennox and Addington Museum and Archives came to the rescue, taking in over 50 boxes of material temporarily until we can move them into the new purpose-built archival storage in the Belleville Public Library.

 Lennox & Addington shelves

Records temporarily in Lennox and Addington Museum and Archives

The move will be of tremendous benefit to the collections and to those who make use of the materials. The next few months are going to be very exciting!

By | October 6th, 2015|Buildings, Move to Belleville Public Library|0 Comments

New location: floors going in

Concrete being pumped through the third-floor window of Belleville Public Library

This morning the progress on the Community Archives’ new home in Belleville Public Library became visible from the outside of the building, as concrete for the new floors was poured through the third-floor window of what will become one of three archive storage vaults.

Below is a view taken from the second floor of the library last month, looking up towards that same window. Here the new floor of the third-floor vault was still under construction. The larger of the two second-floor vaults can be seen on the left.

Interior of Belleville Public Library, showing new third floor for archives vault

It’s exciting to see the new space coming into shape. We’ll keep you updated on the project’s progress here and hope to welcome you into our new location in 2016!

By | September 9th, 2015|Buildings, Move to Belleville Public Library|0 Comments