The future of Ottawa’s past has never looked so bright.
A week after the provincial government announced $20 million to build a new city archives in Centrepointe, communities in Ottawa are being urged to focus on their past and “to start developing their archival stories.”
At a ceremony yesterday to declare Archives Awareness Week, Mayor Larry O’Brien and the Friends of the City of Ottawa Archives unveiled an original 1890 portrait of Queen Victoria that was previously thought to be a reproduction, along with six newly restored minute books from former municipalities, dating back to 1836. They will be included among the materials destined for the new archives building in 2010.
“The minute books represent what the Friends have done, the portrait represents what we are going to do,” said group president John Heney.
The portrait is the next restoration project to be sponsored by the FCOA Special Projects Trust Fund. It was commissioned in 1890 and rediscovered in storage at the former city council chambers on Sussex Drive. It was nearly burned in a 1931 fire that destroyed the old City Hall on Elgin Street.
The restored minute books from the Nepean Township (1836-1866), Osgoode Township (1850-1860), March Township (1850-1882), and Gloucester Township (1872-1878) are the most recently completed projects.
It took conservator Kyla Ubbink over 400 hours to restore the books. Where she could, Ubbink said they would salvage original material for the covers.
Although they are just council minutes from old townships, Heney said the minutes are fascinating.
“You have councillors voting to spend $20 to build a road, or passing bylaws about cowbells,” he said.