Salt Spring Island Archives

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The Archives

Barb Aust, 5 May 2010




Speaker 1 0:01
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Speaker 1 0:23
I'm David Hart. And today I have a guest that I've asked who was representing the Saltspring archives. And I'll just tell you a bit about her former principal and teacher in Salisbury, and now works as a university instructor. And sort of see why she's working in the archives. She comes from a family which genealogy has played a huge role. Her great uncle, William Irving was the first European boy for Victoria in 1851. She married into a family who are descendants of Catholic Church Bale, and Susanna Murray. So family history from both sides of the family tales are rooted in her recent attempt to pique their interest in their preservation. Sure, that's a great help for Saltspring archives, as a society, as an educator themselves, may proceed decades, almost made sure that her students ready to do some local history. The aim was to help the students take pride in their home and have a place a sense of place in the broader world. And I'm sure that will help us when we go to local volunteers to continue the work of History Society in the archives. I think that volunteering and so spring archives was an opportunity to help preserve the history of Saltspring for all peoples, First Nations and those who followed later, those of us who are from like these.

Speaker 2 2:10
While I still feel like a come lately, and I've been here for almost 33 years. Well,

Speaker 1 2:14
that beats me up in tears, but just about I guess, 10 years. Well, what what made you decide to come through Saltspring

Speaker 2 2:26
it's a long story. But we had friends that were living here for five or six days, and our kids were young, and we decided to take advantage of it. And it was August. It's the time of the Perseid meteor showers. It was warm at the beach, and we were down at the Sidious. And we would walk to the beach every day and the kids would swim in the ocean and play on the rocks. And at night, we would lie in our sleeping bags and wash the shooting stars. And the vacation was over the kids that believes please Mum and Dad, can we move to Salt Springs, that was August in October. So that is the beauty of this place. And the the welcoming community that exists. Certainly part of what drew us to come to Salt Spring and then getting involved in the school system. My husband got involved with soccer with the kids and on and on the story went and it's unfolded from there.

Unknown Speaker 3:31
Very much part of the community

Unknown Speaker 3:33

Speaker 1 3:36
know about the archives. How did they begin because they weren't always here.

Speaker 2 3:45
This Historical Society started in I believe it was 1982. And they started on their way. And at one point, people started to give them artifacts, and they started them in the old Atchison house on Stark road. Then in 1989 when we just passed on, and it was time to sell that property. There was no home for all of these artifacts that were being stored. So Mary Davidson and her friend, Peggy Tolson and Mary's cousins, Agnes Cunningham got together and Mary and Peggy, in particular, with after a grant, and they got $1,000 from the Heritage Trust of BC. And that helped them to establish the archives. They then got in conversation with the folks from the Mary Hopkins library, and they were allowed to store a filing cabinet there. That was the beginning, fall into our filing cabinet that we had at that point. And then of course, everybody had bits and pieces in their basements here in there, but the main things were stored in the filing cabinet. And then there was an opportunity to get another grant. It's called the windfall grant and that room that we have down in the basement of the Mary Hawkins library, which is about 28 feet long and maybe 12 feet wide, became the windfall room and house, the archives. And they were able to buy some furniture and bags and got all kinds of donations of desks and filing cabinets of bits and pieces of computers. And another I don't know, I don't think they had computers and I think a typewriter and Agnes cutting out, typed every piece of information that came in, she had it all typed up and catalogued. And with Mary's expertise as a school librarian, they were able to put together very comprehensive archives that has grown and grown from there. Well, that's quite a story and

Speaker 1 5:52
puts you just trying to think of the age. So that's about 20 years,

Speaker 2 5:57
21 years now. Yes, great. Yeah. And of course, it's changed tremendously. Now that we've entered the computer age, we're in the age of technology. And to our good fortune, Frank Newman, move to Saltspring from Saturna Island. And Frank has been our resident technology person, ever since he found us on the volunteer website where volunteers were needed on Saltspring. He gave Mary a call. And that was the beginning of a wonderful love story. Because without Frank, we couldn't have managed to do the things that have been done. Our collection is being digitized, people around the world are able to find it. And it just grows and grows and grows and leaps and bounds.

Speaker 1 6:49
Lady at my daughter's an archivist, BC archives, right, she sent me an email just a couple of days ago about the digitizing in Nova Scotia or other newspapers going way back. 1800s, and so on some of the first. So that digitizing is kind of a worldwide process that's going on. Now I know that Google's is digitizing the world's books. Copyright. And so this is a huge process. This is this is a one man, Frankenstein and honors other people to work on.

Speaker 2 7:29
Whether or not it is a one man show, because Frank is he's the main man around technology. But we've been able to get some student grants. And we've had a wonderful student assistant. Maddy Featherstone, who's worked for us for the last year. And she's been digitizing the drift with anybody that went to the driftwood 50 Year Celebration not long ago would have seen just that their copies of the first driftwood Santo. Well, those are all being digitized, scanned and digitized right now. And I believe we've got four or five years of that done, digitize the rest of the paper. And we'll have that on hand for generations to come. Be surprised what people want to know they'll come in and and they'll say, Well, my, my grandfather died. And I'd like to see his obituary and he died somewhere. And I think it was maybe February of 1972. Can you help me? Boy, from a terrorist go digging? They're able to find it and and the joy that it brings to people when they're able to discover answers is just wonderful

Speaker 1 8:38
aspect of that. I mean, that's certainly very true, is it the whole world is able to do that. It doesn't just rip the screws of the suspenders to get access because once you put it up on the web and next to it.

Speaker 2 8:51
Well, let me tell you a story about that. We have the beyond collection of the Beyonds and the shot to lose sisters. The Paul beyond was their uncle and they bought a farm out on a prawn road. I believe it was around 1910 1912 I'm just a little unsure of the dates but long time ago, and he was in the French army. And his job during the First World War was to be a photographer. And so he would go up in those little biplanes and he would lean over the edge. They were open biplanes lean over the edge and take pictures. Well, they're pictures of the trenches. And they're unbelievable. They're just unbelievable. Well after he brought a lot of those photographs home with him, he may have developed them at home for all I know, and they were stored in the barn out of the LBR house. Where it is today. He brought up his two nieces, the Shawn to lose sisters and those have been around for a while will remember them, one of them had polio and was confined to a wheelchair. Her sis, she did all of the books on the farm, and her sister delivered eggs. And I can remember when we first came here, Miss Shawn to the driving around in her little Datsun truck. And she could hardly see over the steering wheel, she thinks she might have been about four foot nine, she's a tiny little woman, she ran a chicken farm and she would get the eggs and then she would bring them to town. And that's a memory is close the bell for me to just see her driving her little truck. Well, after she and her sister passed on the archives or someone from the archives disasters, they would like to go and look in the barn. And there, they lifted up, what would have been just storage areas for probably feed or implements, and in there or rolled up all of these photographs from the First World War, and they were undamaged, they were not water damaged, they weren't damp, and so and company, were able to, to bring them all into the archives. And they have been scanned and digitized. And they are now on the website. Well, as you say, round the world, here we go. We have had people of professors from France, find those, they know exactly which trenches. This is their field of study, and they have their students able to access the Saltspring website and find information for their research. So like, from a chicken farm to some university in France. There we are,

Speaker 1 11:44
well, so we have our speakers, particularly. And you've got archived photographs, and other sorts of old photographs that have shown that

Speaker 2 11:58
they have 1000s, and 1000s, and 1000s of old photographs, and when the process of digitizing all of them. And one of our biggest difficulties is finding out who the people are in the photographs. So we count on those that have been in the community for a long time to give us that kind of information. And we are very fortunate that people will do that. We also have something called the SBI, which is the Saltspring Bureau Saltspring Bureau of Investigation. Things get posted on that. And it's a little question, do you know this person? Or do you know where this is? And then there'll be responses that come in with people that want this. And I think it's been a lot of fun for people to spend time doing

Speaker 1 12:51
this as a nonprofit? Well, that's great, the nice things are available on the SPI is available through a link on the web from make from the archives.

Speaker 2 13:05
Yes, it's on the Archives website. So if you go to www dot Saltspring,, all one word, then you will find a photograph on the compilation of photographs. We'll find the old church

Speaker 1 13:23
on the show this SBI,

Speaker 2 13:31
you get to the Saltspring archives homepage. And then if you look on there and go to our collection, you'll find right in the middle s d. If you click on that, it will take you places. We have a number of people that try to find information on host buried where and we've got cemetery records and that's something that people can look up as well. And they don't need to come into the archives. They can actually look up all of this information. We've got the Saltspring voters list from 1875. We've got Saltspring Island voters 1898 Census results spring from 1901 in 1911. Marriages from the United Methodist Church, the Anglican parish registry. We've got all kinds of different things on their maps, face names, key dates that have been compiled by Charles Kahn and his book Saltspring the story of an island. And one of the other things that we have are fabulous audio files. Yes. I think we've got we look at now I forgotten but I think we've got in excess of 175 of them on here now. And those audio files are wonderful. They're they've been picked up over the last, say 30 years and they are interviews that have been done with them. People that remember from being in a pioneer family, the stories that have been passed on, and one of them that I'd like to share,

Speaker 1 15:10
good grief and would certainly listen to that one. But before we do, these are all available to people through the web, they could go to them and listen to them.

Speaker 2 15:19
All you have to do is go to the homepage, and where it says audio files, you click on that, make sure your sound is turned up. And you will find all of these audio files on different families on Saltspring. The one I brought along today was the good rich sisters. Many people here will know Marshall Hi, Nikki. He recently did a presentation at the Historical Society on the Soviets the development of the Sidious and Goodrich road is down there and he is good, rich family. And this is a little clip of his mother and his aunt, and they were talking about the witan courts the courts were early builders on the island and one of the ministers in courts had five sons and this just told a little story about the Supreme Court

Speaker 1 16:13
right so let's listen to this this is an example of one of these audio files here that yourself a bedtime story let's do that beforehand find

Speaker 3 16:25
some of what was always there garage wasn't originally it was a store post office facilities was what was laughing is very known as it was idle for years in fact we call it the haunted house

Unknown Speaker 16:58
it was a brief kids it could

Speaker 3 17:00
run schools the less pregnant my dad found out famous lines and compromises or explanations for the dark be on the map can find that originally dark Bay because of the Sol shelter system and the creek swamp area which has to even Lorrie Moore used to get his call from leech years ago despite waiting too long time. It seems that this was in the 40s he was still good quality but it was usable and there are copper creeps along this coast and definitely Long Island in our great wisdom we have wells clear all the explaining the copper and there is an abundance there but it's just too expensive. I think the point is it's copper deposits as well. It's just not high grade enough to be economical to do anything for social groups they probably can make a nickel where nobody else could anyway for the captain idea of keeping his five sons busy and out of his mind making money off other people but certainly not all his sons that was to keep them busy and one of his major projects was building wood cutting water making all these things that had no beginning no end. In the back of our property food is five miles of sneak fences that go nowhere have no fields no nothing. And when asked about this, peace and love, have a house you've got to keep five boys busy and this is literally what there's words out there. Some simple What did you couldn't farm was it from boats or ships? No. He had the authority to make five can do this day after day. Something the rest of us would like to find Sunday.

Speaker 1 19:42
That's great. That's great. Salzburger some long time had a good sense of humor. Yeah. That's one way to raise sons.

Speaker 2 19:51
And maybe it's a really good idea. There's

Speaker 1 19:58
so relevant Got marvelous things. We've talked about the audio files and the digitalized. So, Richard mentioned other sorts of artifacts in the collection. Imagine the filing cabinet. The things that don't fit very easily into that filing cabinet.

Speaker 2 20:18
Well, most of what we take, we try to fit into the filing cabinet or into our big boxes that we have. We don't take items that really belong in a museum, or are restricted more to the pieces of paper, the different records and photographs. And some most of those will fit into very large, acid free boxes that we buy. That's one of our biggest financial outlays has survived these acid free boxes. And we store everything in there, according to what is called a fund. And that's the whole collection put together. And our volunteers categorize everything that's in a box. And they also put that online so that we can do a search to find something when someone comes.

Speaker 1 21:09
Now, supposing there are people out there who who have objects which don't fit so neatly into the boxes. Is there a prospect that use the house those?

Speaker 2 21:25
Well, there is a museum at the moment at the farmers Institute. And I know that that will be as open on special occasions and is opened at times when when the person who's the curator there is contacted, and he will open that for people, there is a hope that someday we'll be able to have some kind of a museum that is closer to town that more people can access more easily. One of the worries for people is that they want to make sure that the artifacts that they turn over are safe. And so we need to make sure we have a safe and secure building. One of our dreams is to have some to research more of the history of the First Nations of salts great. And to have some collections that speak to that we've had some research done around that already.

Speaker 1 22:18
That's sometime in the future. And there'll be development and presumably, collaboration there. You're gonna have to do at home in the new library. You're looking forward to that,

Speaker 2 22:32
oh, boy, are we ever from our our damp, dark little place down in the basement that has been a wonderful home, but it's outlived its time. And so we're really looking forward to being in the new library and having our everything nice and safe and secure. It's a safe and secure as it can be now that every time there's a threat of a flood, we panic. And we've got everything up good and high on shelves so that we're safe from that. But we're looking forward to being able to put it in a brand new building where everything is clean and safe. And we have great areas for people to spread out and look at what's there.

Speaker 1 23:14
So it was much more of a place to visit. But I guess the the security and having proper surveillance with a huge difference

Unknown Speaker 23:21
will make

Unknown Speaker 23:22
a huge difference as well. Absolutely.

Speaker 1 23:25
Well, we're coming close to the end here. And I'd like to. So we know we talk people that are listening, there are ways to access this is primarily through the website. We'll find links to all of these things. I want to mention

Speaker 2 23:49
one of the things that we have on there, as well as the contact email address info at Saltspring And if there are people who are interested in history in local history, or in world history, anything you're interested in that involves something historical, we would love to have you come and work with us. We get all fired up. We get excited. We're looking for people with passion. Right. So if you're interested in coming up joining us, please email us. And let us know if you're interested. We'd love to have you write a

Unknown Speaker 24:25
new batch of historical societies regular meetings in which people presume

Speaker 2 24:29
that's right. They're everywhere, the second Wednesday of every month and there's one coming up next Wednesday, May the 12th. That central fall at two o'clock. And it's our annual general meeting but the meeting park will be very short. And we're going to have the Historical Society come in it's called the historical meet the hysterical the history of the hysterical society. And Arthur Chalmers Reed Collins April Curtis sit Philco and my kids will be there to put on a performance for anybody that wants to come in By donation,

Speaker 1 25:01
so that's something was seriously you shouldn't miss seriously, you should know. Well, Garbowsky Thank you very much for coming. St. VFC. We could go on and talk quite a bit more about this. Sure.

Unknown Speaker 25:14
Now, I was wondering the Viva tents. We have a message from Sue. Kathy page, we'll be having a book launch. It'll be her new book to find. And that will be 730 artspring.

Speaker 1 25:40
Word on the rock the the 12 is going to be Merlin verse doll. Her new book which title and then a big third Monday we'll be talking about his new book, Borderlands. And, of course, storytime on Friday, the exciting details. And Magaret is going to be presenting goes and thank our sponsors. Saltspring books are continuing to support real a lot. And I hope you all enjoyed the program very much. Great fun presenting. Thank you. See you next week.