Archives on the move
In what is being described as a “good heritage-heritage mix,” the Glengarry County Archives is planning to move into one of the oldest buildings in the county.
North and South Glengarry are purchasing the Knights of Columbus hall which will undergo “major renovations” so it can become the permanent home of the Archives, located in Glengarry District High School.
Now that the municipalities have agreed to split the $140,000 needed to acquire the site at 28 Kenyon St. East, a public fund-raising drive will soon be launched to finance upgrades to the hall.
Built in 1823, the “Colonel’s House,” the oldest building in Alexandria, was the stately home of Colonel Angus Macdonell, a nephew of the famous Bishop Alexander Macdonell of St. Raphael’s. After being acquired by the Knights of Columbus in the 1920s, it was extensively altered in the late 1970s, when it was converted to be used as the Knights of Columbus Hall.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure for the archives a permanent home in a building that not only meets the long-term needs of the archives but is steeped in the history of Glengarry. It's an incredible win-win,” declares County Archivist Allan MacDonald.
The building will undergo major renovations to provide barrier-free access to the public and restore the historic limestone exterior walls.
An estimate on the cost of the work, which will include removal of stucco from exterior of the structure, will be determined at a later date
The new archives location will also feature environmental controls to properly preserve the archives' unique collection of “Glengarriana.”
This will represent a much-needed upgrade to the storage conditions at the archives' current location at GDHS, which does not meet minimum archival preservation standards.
“Our council remains committed to continuing to partner with Glengarry District High School to find ways to ensure that our schools remain viable. We remain committed to being staunch advocates for rural education and together we want to ensure that all of our students, schools and boards succeed,” says North Glengarry Mayor Jamie MacDonald.
The archives has been based in the high school for the past five and a half years. The 4,800-square-foot space is rented from the Upper Canada District School Board for $20,000 annually under a lease that is to expire in 2023.
With over 7,600 square feet of space, the new
location will address the long-term storage needs of the facility and will accommodate over 30 years of future growth. In the process, one of Glengarry's finest heritage buildings will be restored. As a result, the community will have greater access to its history and the archives' incredible treasures will be showcased. The repository was established in late 2013 as an agency of both North and South Glengarry Townships. The municipalities subsequently leased space in the north-east corner of GDHS for the archives, which began operations entirely from scratch. No longer a start-up, it has grown dramatically to become the largest in Eastern Ontario with collections as diverse as Our Lady's Missionaries, Boulangerie Lanthier Bakery, Lancaster Masonic Lodge, Hôpital Glengarry Memorial Hospital and the Glengarry Highland Games.
The archives Board of Directors plans to pursue funding opportunities from various government sources at the county, provincial and federal levels.
The organization is also banking on the community’s support. A concerted fundraising effort is being prepared by “a strong group of community volunteers” to ensure that additional capital is raised.
The archives is expected to move to its permanent home in the fall of 2020.
“The Township of South Glengarry is excited to partner with our neighbours to the North to establish a permanent home for the Glengarry County Archives,” said South Glengarry Mayor Frank Prevost. “The purchase of this building is the first step towards advancing this project. We look forward to working with all partners involved to fundraise and to advocated for government funding as the project progresses,” said Mayor Prevost.
GLORY DAYS: In the background, then still in its original condition, is the fine stone home built in the 1830s by Colonel Angus Macdonell.