Glengarry County Archives will soon have a place to call home. For good.
In recent weeks, municipal councils in North Glengarry and in South Glengarry voted unanimously to purchase a property located at 28 Kenyon Street East, in Alexandria, to become the permanent home of the Glengarry County Archives. The building is Alexandria’s oldest and is among the oldest in all of Glengarry. It was built in the late 1830s by Colonel Angus Macdonell, a nephew of the famous Bishop Alexander Macdonell of St. Raphael’s. It was extensively altered in the late 1970s, when it was converted for use as the Knights of Columbus Hall.
County Archivist Allan MacDonald enthused that “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.”
The building will undergo major renovations to provide barrier-free access to the public and restore the historic limestone exterior walls, which date back to the 1830s. It 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 Glengarry District High School (GDHS), which do not meet minimum archival preservation standards.
“Our council remains committed to continuing to partner with Glengarry District High School (GDHS) to find ways to ensure that our schools remain viable. We are committed to being staunch advocates for rural education and together we want to ensure that all of our students, schools and boards succeed,” said North Glengarry Mayor Jamie MacDonald.
With more than 7,600 square-feet of space, the new location for the archive will address the long-term storage needs of the facility and will accommodate more than 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 county archives was established in late 2013 as an agency of both North and South Glengarry Townships. The townships 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 Glengarry County Archives Board of Directors plans to pursue funding opportunities from various government sources at the county, provincial and federal levels. In order to succeed, the fundraiser also needs the community’s support. A concerted fundraising effort, lead by a strong group of community volunteers is already preparing a campaign dedicated to ensuring that additional capital is raised. The Glengarry County 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 advocate for government funding as the project progresses,” said Mayor Prevost.