Unveiling a new beginning
During the dedication ceremony for the Dundas County Archives an unveiling of the sign which will be located at 5 College Street, the new home of the DCA, was performed. From the left, SDSG MP Guy Lauzon, South Dundas Mayor Evonne Delegarde, director of corporate services/clerk Brenda Brunt, Dundas County archivist Susan Peters, North Dundas deputy CAO/chief clerk Jo-Anne McCaslin, North Dundas Mayor Eric Duncan, SDSG MPP Jim McDonell.       Thompson Goddard photo

Carolyn Thompson Goddard
Record Correspondent
IROQUOIS – There was an air of excitement at the Civic Centre in Iroquois during the afternoon of Nov. 4 when the Dundas County Archives were dedicated with approximately 100 people in attendance. South Dundas Mayor Evonne Delegarde perhaps summed up the feeling of those present in a recent email to the Chesterville Record in her statement: “The dedication ceremony and unveiling of plaques and sign today was the ultimate!”

For four years a group of dedicated individuals from both North and South Dundas have been working to ensure the history of this county is preserved, protected as well as accessible to residents and researchers.

Members of the committee from the municipality of South Dundas included Mayor Evonne Delegarde, director of corporate services/clerk Brenda Brunt, community representatives chair Larry Empey, Gerry Thompson (who recently passed away) and from North Dundas, Mayor Eric Duncan, deputy CAO/chief clerk Jo-Anne McCaslin community representatives Brianne Scott and Darlene Fawcett as well as Lorraine Reoch, president of the St. Lawrence Branch of the United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada, with Susan Peters serving as an ex-officio member. ­

Delegarde explained the process in establishing a county wide archives has its roots in the municipality’s need to preserve its pre-amalgamation records. With the death of local genealogist and historian Lynne Cook in 2016, who had spent a lifetime collecting information on the history of Dundas County, it became even more evident that a location to ensure the preservation of local history was needed.

Delegarde continued to say, that discussions with North Dundas Mayor Eric Duncan began and those conversations between the two mayors and the two clerks’ resulted in the realization that Dundas County would need: “an archives similar to the Glengarry Archives, the searching out of locations and that a committee needed to be formed.” She explained the need for a location where [Cook’s] records could be housed as well as other important county historical records.

Susan Peters, who has been hired as the Dundas County Archives archivist, explained in a recent email to the Record how the Archives will house both North and South Dundas municipal, business and personal records. Peters commented there were several challenges facing the committee which included finding a suitable location, suitable shelving and climate control.

Speakers at the event included SDSG MP Guy Lauzon who explained the importance of promoting and preserving history, Lorraine Reoch who provided information on the Loyalist Collection and the Lynne Cooke Collection which will be housed at the Dundas County Archives and SDSG MPP Jim McDonell who congratulated the committee for their work in creating a way to preserve local history.

According to Duncan, there has been an “overwhelming response” to the creation of the Archives from the public who had many items of local historical significance and were searching for a way to protect them.

Amongst the collection at the Archives are copies of the Chesterville Record dating from 1902 onwards, which according to Mayor Duncan have been catalogued and are housed in archive quality boxes in the Dundas Archives. Record co-owner Linda Vogel mentioned in a recent email that there will be copies of some papers still available for residents to view at the Record office in Chesterville and commented how “We are proud to be part of this project to keep the history of Dundas preserved.” Vogel explained there are plans to forward copies of the paper to the archives on a continued basis.

Vogel explained the archives would provide back issues of the Record with a safe and accessible home, with the owners retaining the copyright to the material. She concluded her email by recognizing the contribution made by Robin Morris to the local community and that “he has left big shoes for us to fill but we look forward to serving this community.” During the dedication ceremony, a letter from the Morris family was read, which concluded with the statement of how “a community newspaper is the heart of the community”.

Peters mentioned that a Facebook page has been created for the archives and expects within the coming weeks that the website will be up and running. Following the dedication ceremony, organized tours of the DCA located at 5 College St. in Iroquois were held.

While there is still much work to be done before the DCA officially opens, this event was an opportunity to meet the people who have spent so much time and effort in ensuring the history of Dundas County is preserved and protected and made available to researchers and residents.