By Dale Ells
Unpublished written materials, often prepared for family members and friends, record a great deal about life in this area. While there are systematic methods to review the content of newspapers, magazines, books and public reports, locating the more private and unpublished recollections of the past is usually difficult. In Colchester, the situation is improving as we have expanding collections of unpublished historical materials in the archives at the Historeum on Young Street in Truro.
© SUBMITTED PHOTO
Authors Carol Campbell and Jim Smith examine the ‘Robert Smith Account Book 1870 – 1872’ as they discover local stories by conducting new research into the years from 1860-1870. Robert Smith’s store was at the corner of Queen and Commercial streets in Truro where the two businesses – Square Roots and Enchanted Forest – are presently located. Some readers will remember that for many years Gordon’s Variety Store was at that site.
Families, individuals and local organizations are providing materials, which are placed in files, binders and organized collections available for others to review. People doing historical research on families, communities or local industries value such records.
I’ll mention a few examples starting with five collections about specific Colchester people.
- Life stories about two dozen war brides from the Second World War have been prepared, together with photos. Copies are in binders at the archives.
- Through a project led by Branch 26 of the Royal Canadian Legion, biographies and wartime experiences of 54 veterans are available with pictures.
- In 2008, the museum developed programs and a major display featuring the arrival of immigrant families from the Netherlands. Thirty-six family reports were developed with genealogy and stories of their early family life in their new Colchester communities.
- A set of ‘The Elder Transcripts Project for the Brookfield Area’ is preserved in the archives. These interviews with 18 seniors present considerable detail on their lives and community activities.
- Currently, the Community Strong Men’s Group in Truro is documenting the authentic voices and historical narratives of local African Nova Scotian seniors and will preserve an anthology of these unique stories in our area. The archives will continue to preserve valuable oral history such as this one.
There are other more private writings, which have been retained and shared by family members.
Here are three examples:
- Personal diaries showing considerable detail include those from Effie Thomson (1912-1917), Elmira Blaikie (1891-1944) and Clara E. Moore (1913-1954).
- The recollections of Captain James Wilbur Johnston of Great Village about his voyages at sea and his return to establish a home in Great Village were prepared just for his children. The script has now become a book called ‘High Spots.’ With family approval, the archives developed a publishing plan with Pottersfield Press and the book was published last autumn.
- A private notebook which belonged to Daniel Gerard MacNab, a young man from the North Shore who spent several years working on sailing boats on the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, is currently part of a display at the Historeum. While at sea working on tall ships in the 1880s, he often recorded his thoughts and feelings about specific storms, events and memories.
There are many types of unpublished information being saved. There are other personal diaries, letters, photos and family scrapbooks, which reveal much about the communities and achievements of local citizens. School registers, business records, membership lists and more are preserved. Come and explore. There are stories waiting to be discovered.
If you have materials that can be donated or copied, discuss the possibilities by visiting archivist Nan Harvey, or phone her at (902) 895-9530.
Event Coming Soon
The annual heritage luncheon featuring chicken soup, fish cakes, sausages, baked beans, hash browns as well as a gingerbread dessert with lemon sauce, will be held on Friday, April 12, at noon.
This popular fundraising luncheon will be in the community room of the Truro Fire Service. It has been sold out in each of the past three years, so we recommend you purchase tickets at $12 in advance from the entrance desk at the Historeum.