Friday, January 27, 2012

Heritage Myth # 2: All heritage organizations are the same.

It seems there's no clear idea among the general public about who London's heritage community is and how it operates. Sometimes the heritage community itself doesn't seem to be too sure how it operates, so it's not surprising so few others get it.

The fact is, local heritage organizations are often approached for information they can't provide. The Historical Society, for example, is prone to getting requests from genealogists.

So let's clarify who the local public should go to for what information:

Have a question about London history? Contact the London & Middlesex Historical Society, the oldest of London's heritage organizations, in existence since 1901. Several of its members are walking reference books on London history.

Researching the history of your house? Try the London Public Library's London Room. Librarian Arthur McClelland has been known to do talks on this very subject.

Renovating a heritage building and not sure what alterations you should make? Contact the London Advisory Committee on Heritage.

Interested in learning about local architecture? Get in touch with the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario London Branch. If that seems a little long-winded, call them ACO London for short.

Researching your family tree and becoming stumped? Contact London & Middlesex County Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society. Or OGS for short.

There are lots of other local groups, many of which I've provided links to from this blog. Sorry, no real historical museum or archives yet.

And yes, we could use an umbrella organization that represents all the heritage groups in London. It would add another level of bureaucy but might also provide the historical community with some unity and direction. How about United Heritage Front? What do you mean, the initials U.H.F. been used for something before...

3 comments:

  1. There IS such an umbrella organization:
    the London Heritage Council. Please check out the web site/Portal. Interesting that you don't know about it, since the director of the program you mention at Western has been involved. Love your blog

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  2. Actually, I'm aware of L.H.C. as I'm the one who sends them updates for the L.M.H.S. portion of their website. They may call themselves an umbrella organization if they like but I doubt if many heritage activists find them as "inspiring" or "nurturing" as their website claims.

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  3. Let's get it clear for the general public - what is the Heritage Council's mandate and how are its members chosen ? Is it the official sponsor of the website, which appears to be funded by taxpayers ? To whom at the City is it accountable ?
    It certainly doesn't appear to be an 'umbrella' organization as that usually means groups agree to work together and this seems to operate top down, and some feel it does not know the heritage fields very well from the various sections. It also appears not to allow for public input as to information needs.
    Western personnel actually weren't very active in the "heritage movement" counting back from the postwar days as we recall them, although some were wives of UWO involved in various groups.
    However, having a municipal website devoted to these interests is a step forward from the "quill pen" days when the subject began becoming respectable, even trendy. This could be dated roughly as the mid '80s when London could mount an 'Ontario Heritage Week' celebrating our common legacy that impressed even the Ministry.
    And shopkeeper Ann McColl Lindsay's showmanship and newsletter work of the late Steve Winder were cross-group glue.

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