We Need a County Archives

Middlesex County does not have a county archives to protect our history for future generations.

Report from the Committee To Establish A Middlesex County Archives (CEMCA):

Unlike other counties that have established a County Archives (Lambton, Kent, Elgin, Oxford, Norfolk, Perth, Huron etc.) to house municipal as well as important historical materials, Middlesex County has not. In February 2020, representatives of historical societies and interested citizens from across Middlesex County gathered to ascertain the interest in establishing a Middlesex County Archives. The group had concerns about what would happen to their precious historical documents due to aging volunteers and lack of resources.  The group gave resounding approval to the initiative and the Committee to Establish a Middlesex County Archives was born. After two meetings, Covid-19 halted those for the year but work remained ongoing.  In February 2021 virtual meetings commenced via Zoom. 

How best to achieve the goal? The primary focus had to be municipal records. Through legislation, County and Municipal governments are mandated to officially store public records for legal, governance, and historical purposes.  The Ontario Municipal Act 2001, S.O. 2001. C. 25 Section 254 further states that municipal offices must preserve certain documents, and that they are to be publicly accessible.  Those records need to be properly stored and available in a timely manner.  It further indicates that municipal offices could deposit their records in an archive, to be secured. In addition, many historical societies hold historically significant documents and still more remain in private hands. Without a County Archives, there is concern about the location and condition under which many valuable historical documents are being stored.

CEMCA, through a survey to Mayors and Clerks, and another survey to Historical Societies within Middlesex County, ascertained much data – most materials were not stored in secure, environmentally-safe areas and most were not easily accessible.  That is a problem for municipal as well as local historical documents.

In June, CEMCA developed a series of “Facts Sheets” and other pertinent information to be sent weekly to County and Municipal Councillors and Administrative Staff. Information included: Municipal Act and Responsibilities, What is an Archives? How Will the Municipality and Clerks Benefit? Where Are the Records Now? Who Would Use the Middlesex County Archives, Resources Required and Challenges and Opportunities. To see any of this information, please check Middlesex Centre Archives webpage: www.middlesexcentrearchive.ca or email proposedmiddlesexcountyarchive@gmail.com.

Committee representatives from each municipality are contacting their councillors and/or making presentations to their councils. On September 28, 2021, CEMCA will be making a presentation to County Council to formally ask that a Middlesex County Archives be established.

Who benefits from a County Archives? Municipal clerks, town planners and developers, lawyers and architects, heritage advocates, scholars and educators, genealogists and family historians, tourists. The biggest benefactors will be our future generations!!!!!!!

How can you help? Contact your county councillors by writing, email or telephone to express your support for the Archives. For more information, please email proposedmiddlesexcountyarchive@gmail.com.

Let us lose nothing of the past, it is only with the past that one builds the future. Anatole France