Archiving

Preserving our forest history is a complex activity, one that relies upon the preservation of historical items. These items range from old documents (i.e., correspondence, diaries, reports), photographs, tools (e.g., timber stamps, saws, etc.) and other artifacts. Each has its own story to tell, and contributes to deepening our understanding of how Ontario's forests have been viewed, used and managed, and how Ontarians have lived for so long among the trees. But there are challenges in preserving these materials. Unfortunately, the owner of a "bunch of old letters from my uncle, who was a forester", or a wildlife officer who kept meticulous records in a daily journal of the type, number and health of the animals s/he encountered, occasionally does not recognize the value of these documents and is inclined to discard them. Their value is not clear because the owner often has no idea how the particular piece of forest history that he or she possesses fits into and helps complete the greater puzzle that is our forest history.

The FHSO is committed to helping preserve these historical puzzle pieces so that we can continue to reconstruct and remember Ontario's forest history. This forest history can help to inform us on future decisions regarding our forests. Our role in preserving our forest history is to strive to ensure that items of historical importance are transferred to archival repositories, which have the proper facilities to preserve them for posterity. These repositories are found across the province, ranging from tiny, one-room community museums to the multi-floor and multi-building Archives of Ontario in Toronto.

The FHSO makes it relatively easy to participate in this process. Holders of historical items are encouraged to contact Mark Kuhlberg (mkuhlberg@laurentian.ca), the FHSO's Chairperson, who has been acting as a liaison between potential donors and archival repositories for over twenty years. After learning of the nature of the collection, Mark will contact an appropriate repository and begin the process of having the materials donated to it.

To date, the FHSO has been involved in overseeing the donation of nearly a dozen collections. They have included the minute books from the Ontario Forest Industries Association, the papers from a number of former foresters (including Donald McDonald, Canada's last Dominion Forester, W.K. Fullerton and Benjamin F. Avery), and documents, company magazines and photographs from the Kalamazoo Vegetable Parchment Company and Austin-Nicholson Lumber Company.

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