More and more people are realizing the treasures of the community’s history that are available for research and viewing at Sylvan Lake & District Archives Society.
As a result volunteers have been busier this year than in the past, both with their own projects and in assisting visitors.
They’re also receiving more donations of pictures and other historic material.
Denise Bignold, president of the society, thanked the board and volunteers during the annual meeting Apr. 30. “I could hardly believe it when I read through the logs. Every Tuesday and Thursday we had at least four people working here … Everybody is putting in lots of hours.”
The organization was able to hire Marion Thompson on a part time basis in January to assist with digitizing and cataloguing accessions.
“We have a lot of visitors coming in doing research,” said Bignold who noted some of those were working on history boards which are now displayed at various locations around town.
In her written report, Bignold noted two of the three Centennial projects they undertook have been completed. The 18-month calendar went on sale last June and the Main Street album is now available for viewing.
The third project is the Centennial Album.
Jean Bridge in her written report, indicated the album turned into a “major undertaking, not a simple book of pictures like The First Fifty Years, our album made in 1995-96.”
The album has been divided into decades, beginning with the 1950s and has been completed to the 1980s, Bridge reported. The 1990s decade is partially done as is the last section, 2000 to 2013.
“For the information and pictures in the album, we used pictures from our accessions and information from many sources, relying heavily on back issues of the newspapers, especially the Sylvan Lake News, to verify the dates and other information,” wrote Bridge.
“Since the 2000s do not strike people as ‘historical’, we have very few pictures for this era, so are using a different format and featuring the tremendous growth which Sylvan Lake has had during the past few years. Again we are planning on using the Sylvan Lake News as the main source of information. We are fortunate to have such good reporters and photographers recording the events in our community.”
Bignold, in her report, stated the archives is also involved with other Centennial projects such as the ‘Art Project’ with Grade 7 students, a PowerPoint presentation for the Centennial Jubilee and information for the Centennial Park pillars. She indicated that about 90 per cent of the pictures for the 64 plaques going on the pillars have come from the archives. Michael Dawe has been writing information to go with them.
Two displays have attracted attention during the past year, one celebrating farming and the second on the history of churches within the community. The next display, on parades of 1913 Days, will be unveiled shortly.
Bignold also reported on a tour of their future home in the new civic administration building. They expect to move in the fall from their current location in the east end of the library.
Statistics showed volunteers contributed 1,930.5 hours between April 2012 and March 2013. The Archives has received 4,564 accessions from 335 donors since 1995.
Roy Mattson reported several historical markers have been added to those already in town. These include one mounted on the fence at the former Sylvan Lake Hotel location (50th Street and Lakeshore Drive), and others at the golf course and stone castle. A marker about the boat house will be erected once a pedestal is installed.
Three on-going projects were noted in Bunny Virtue’s report. “Two of them involve a ‘race against time and progress’,” she wrote.
First is photographing and collecting information on the fast disappearing and unique cottage area in town and in Lower Camp. The second is chronicling the many old houses in town whose histories reflect Sylvan Lake’s past.
Two albums have been assembled, one with photos, owner’s names and cabin names in the area from 49th Street to 33rd Street — generally known as the ‘cottage area’. The other records names and histories of summer homes in the Lower Camp area.
“Unfortunately, many of the old cottages have been taken down and the histories lost, but with careful research and cross-referencing, we have filled in many of the gaps,” Virtue reported.
Now being assembled is an album of names and histories of old residences in Sylvan Lake. She admitted there is still research left to do on this.
The third project, Virtue indicated, is a monthly article for the library’s newsletter. Since 2003, over 100 columns have been written.
During the election of officers, all positions were filled by acclamation. Denise Bignold was returned as president, Jean Bridge as vice president, Bunny Virtue as secretary and Inez Gathercole as treasurer. Returning directors include Pat Blakely, Roy Mattson, Ernie Walter, Helen Grimson, Marie Schlahs, John Yoos and Gilberte Pubanz.
The evening’s guest speaker was historian Michael Dawe, whose presentation dealt with 100 years of Sylvan Lake complete with pictures and anecdotes.