By Sharon Harrison
Heritage Week celebrations focus on old County photos on Sunday during the Waupoos Antique Photo Exhibition at the North Marysburgh Recreation Center.
More than 40 attendees take a trip down memory lane as the presentation showcases the history of the places and people of Prince Edward County.
Opening remarks were made by North Marysburgh councilor David Harrison, who said Heritage Week meant a lot to everyone.
“When I think about heritage, I don’t think about the brick and mortar as much as I think about the social legacy side of things,” Harrison said. “No matter what your background, your heritage contributes to your culture, and John as a result [Lyons] have been a very solid partner in this township, documenting a lot of heritage, and we are all very proud of that.”
The annual show, which started in 2017, is created, produced, organized, and hosted by Lyons, a local historian and Waupoo native.
Lyons said one of the highlights of the event was public education about the County’s heritage.
“It’s to remind the people whose ancestors made that legacy, and to the new people, who we want to tell about what happened,” said Lyons. “There are all kinds of interesting stories, not just in this township, but throughout the County. You won’t believe some of the things here until you hear the story.”
The afternoon also saw a special unveiling by Lyons and board member Harrison of Lyons’ latest framed donation to the Waupoos City Hall vintage photo collection.
It describes in writing the history of the city of North Marysburgh, as it was written for Atlas Beldon, for Prince Edward and Hastings counties, 1878.
Lyons said he had been trying to get this piece for quite a while, noting that it didn’t come in this form because he had to make it.
“This was an item written in 1878, so I had to photocopy the pages, cut and paste them, blow them out, cut and paste them again, so I could finally get them large enough to read and all on one page. ,” explained Lyons.
“This is North Marysburgh municipal history and will hang in town hall.”
The North Marysburgh Recreation Committee thanked the Lyons for putting on the show.
“He has done a great job of putting up historical pictures, and he has been doing that for many years and now we have quite a gallery.”
The event also welcomed special guest speaker Sean Smith, who is a senior archivist in the Archives of Ontario, Collections Development and Management Unit who organized a special digital presentation focused on the Marsden Kemp collection featuring photographs of 1900s era people and places at Prince Edward. Area.
Smith also talks about the Archives of Ontario, what it does, and the types of materials it has, and how to obtain and source the materials, but also focuses on public engagement.
“My place in the archives is really thinking about collections, so what we don’t have, what we do have, dealing with donation offers, engaging with the public, and building the collection,” Smith said.
He explained, archives obtain, preserve, and provide records relating to the history of the province.
This archive is free to use and one does not need permission to use any of the material, but attribution is encouraged.
“Our records come from two sources: we are organized to be responsible for the records of the Ontario government, they are a big part of what we do, and they are a small part of collections, but we also deal with private records.”
Smith noted it is the second largest archive in Canada and the largest provincial archive.
“If you take all the papers we have and stack them on top of each other, you will see about 286 CN Towers. We have 6.6 million photographs, 318,000 architectural plans, more than 113,000 maps, 39,000 hours of sound and motion picture recordings, approximately 2,700 works of art, and more than 84,000 library items, among a vast collection.”
Archived materials obtained since its founding in 1903.
One specific post Smith talks about in detail is Marsden Kemp’s favorite (or collection).
He explained how Kemp ended up going to Prince Edward County with his family. He died in 1943, of dementia, at Picton Hospital.
“Marsden Kemp’s origins are really interesting.” Smith explained Kemp was at some point in his life an amateur photographer living in Kingston, but also Picton and in Rochester for a time, and he took many photographs.
“Once upon a time, the material was discovered by a Picton antique dealer in the 60s, and there are an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 glass plates, of which only 1,000 have survived.
Plate glass negatives were, of course, fragile, he cautioned.
Smith said about a thousand glass plate negatives came to the Archives of Ontario in the 1970s where most of the collection was digitized.
“We don’t know much about Marsden Kemp, but I still think back to how interesting he was.”
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Smith noted that all of Kemp’s brothers and sisters were born in Jamaica, with his mother and father. Kemp’s father was a plantation manager in the 1850s and 1860s.
“There are all kinds of things that come up. You are dealing with links to slavery, his mother had close ties to plantations where his uncle owned a number of slaves,” said Smith. “This was especially poignant during Black History month and the connection this person had with something that was going on in the Caribbean at the time.”
Kemp and his family moved to Canada in the 1860s, although it is not clear why they came. Smith said Marsden Kemp was very young, under nine years old, when he came to Canada,
Later, Kemp tried his hand at piano tuner at some point.
“I don’t think it worked out, he eventually moved to Picton and became a photographer and gardener, and he never married.”
Kemp took photos of all of eastern Ontario and “The material is simply stunning to look at and I highly recommend spending time at Kemp’s Marsden.”
Smith explains that “likes” is an archival term that refers to all the records that individuals or organizations create automatically and organically through their activities. For the rest of us, “collections” work well.
It was interaction with John Lyons about some of the collection that had been uploaded to the archive, as Lyons had reached out to correct some of the place names included in the photos, that started the conversation and connection.
“The value of our collection is solely in how it’s used and if it’s not used there’s no point in us doing our job,” said Smith. “Another thing that’s been really great about doing this job is when it comes to receiving comments, it makes us reflect on what we have, and what we didn’t know we had.”
Click below for background information on the Marsden Kemp collection.
Archives of Ontario releases turn-of-the-century memorabilia about Prince Edward County