Tuesday, January 4, 2011

An archive at last?

Next week there'll be an event of special interest to those of us hoping for a county archive. Middlesex County Council will meet at the Middlesex County Building on Tuesday, January 11 at 1:00 pm to discuss a proposal to build an archive facility at Fanshawe Pioneer Village. So all those of you who'd like to see an archive established should try to attend this meeting. It's a great way to let County Council know how many people support this endeavour to preserve our past. (For those of you who don't venture into downtown London too often, the County Building = the "Old Courthouse" = that building that looks like a medieval castle at 399 Ridout Street opposite the JLC.)

Now for some of the more obvious reasons why the county needs an archive:
- to preserve historical records from the county's past, especially those from annexed or amalgamated townships
- to apply proper conservation procedures to documents disintegrating in damp or otherwise unsuitable storage facilities elsewhere
- to facilitate scholarly local research by students, historians and journalists
- to provide another cultural tourism destination for the London-Middlesex area
- to repair Middlesex County's reputation as the "black hole" of Ontario county archives
- to shame the City of London into creating an archive of its own

Researchers of all kinds really do travel for hours, if not days, just to visit archives. After visiting the Middlesex County Archive, they'd stay in a hotel, eat in local restaurants, visit our museums, possibly go to a Knights game - the list goes on. An archive is actually an investment in our community and one that's long overdue.

Update, January 25: First they delayed the vote for two weeks. Then the whole event turned out to be a farce. Despite a Council chamber crowded with archive supporters and several pro-archive speeches, Council members had already made up their minds. So no archive. No reasons were given but we can be certain they include a) money, b)the fact that no one in government sees any need for historical preservation and c) the County is probably hoping London will eventually build an archive and the County can piggyback (which also boils down to money).

Another black eye for the heritage community. Fortunately, we're used to them and our vision remains unaffected.

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