Spring cleaning reveals archival treasures
Queen, Trudeau, Churchill's widow some of the names involved
Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014 06:00 am
The Musée Héritage Museum recently came into possession of some unique and historic documents after city staffers were cleaning out council chambers.
Maintenance workers at St. Albert Place asked archivist Vino Vipulanantharajah to have a look at a few framed documents that were being kept in storage. What he returned with were some important moments from the history of the city and the country too and they might have simply been recycled or thrown out with the trash.
“I got a call from the city’s maintenance people asking if we wanted them,” he suggested, “otherwise they were going to get rid of them, I guess.”
Among the several items included a framed letter and photo of a street-naming ceremony from Sir Winston Churchill’s widow, Clementine. She was thanking the town for the street naming ceremony on behalf of her husband in 1965, only months after the former world leader had passed. The town of St. Albert sent her a photograph book of the presentation that happened that day and she responded with a thank you letter to the mayor and town council for the event.
There was also the 1968 proclamation for the new town coat of arms by then Mayor Richard Fowler.
“That one is really the significant one for St. Albert. That was during Fowler’s first term. That was a neat piece to look at. I was surprised but I was more than happy to bring it down to the museum.”
That small collection of old documents came with the Queen’s Proclamation for the 1982 Constitution Act, signed by Queen Elizabeth II and then prime minister Pierre Trudeau. Vipulanantharajah clarified that this document is not an original but more of an authorized copy, one of many that were probably sent across Canada.
The original document, he continued, was damaged when a protestor poured red ink on it. It can be found in the National Archives with a big red blot on it.
The real gem for him, however, is the proclamation for the coat of arms.
“It’s the significant one because it’s directly related to St. Albert and it’s an original document. This one is the actual document – and also the Winston Churchill letter – I think we had a copy of this letter but this is the actual original one that we didn’t have.”
“I was surprised that it was just laying in storage there. I guess it was there for four or five years.”
Other items that were discovered included a commemoration for the opening of the Sturgeon County Centre, a certificate for the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects regarding Red Willow Park, a 1998 membership document for the ACRF featuring the signatures of all capital region mayors, plus a poster plaque for 1994 Alberta Winter Games that were held in St. Albert.
The archivist is grateful to have saved these documents so that they can be preserved for citizens to enjoy throughout the future. Archives, after all, belong to the people.
“That’s the thing I really want to get across. If people want to see these things, they’re more than welcome to come down and ask me. I’d be more than happy to pull these things out and show them.”
Vipulanantharajah can be contacted at the museum at 780-459-1528.