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Delving into the archives

Age of Sail featured in community albums project


Published on July 17, 2017

Age of Sail museum curator Oralee O’Byrne had the opportunity to highlight the museum’s archives by participating in the recent Nova Scotia Community Albums project.

©Andrew Wagstaff - The Citizen-Record

WARD’S BROOK – Tucked away downstairs in the beautiful Wind & Wave building, the Age of Sail museum’s extensive archives don’t get as much attention as some of the site’s more visible features.

That has changed with the recent launching of the Nova Scotia Community Albums project, a virtual exhibit telling the stories and celebrating the uniqueness of communities across the province. A Canada 150 project, it focuses on stories from 1867 onwards.

It was a great way to showcase our area and archives, and a bit of our history that’s there.

Oralee O'Byrne, curator

“Our project tries to give a snapshot of the community and industry of the Parrsborough Shore as it developed after Confederation,” said O’Byrne. “There is such a story to tell and it was a pleasure putting this project together. It gave me a chance to revisit our archives and a renewed enthusiasm towards collecting other items to fill the gaps.”

The project came along at a great time for the museum, as it has only been in recent years that the new space has become available for the archives, and that O’Byrne has had the time to get all of the material sorted.

It was that opportunity to highlight the archives that interested her in taking part in the project. Of the 21 archives featured, the Age of Sail’s is the only one from this region of the province.

“It was a great way to showcase our area and archives, and a bit of our history that’s there,” said O’Byrne. “It was the perfect project to make use of the archives.”

The Age of Sail exhibit features 54 pieces, including ship logs, photographs, school records, and wage cheques. One of the items included was a mortgage document from Apple River between shipbuilder Robert Dewis and Father of Confederation Sir Charles Tupper.

“I had no idea what I was getting into,” O’Byrne admitted. “But it was nice, because it was left up to me, what to do. So I just started looking at what was going on in the community in 1867, and started piecing little bits together.”

The experience has given her a renewed interest in adding to the museum’s archives.

“I’m looking at the things we have and thinking what would be nice to try and find,” she said. “I know it’s out there in the community. It’s just a matter of finding who has it and getting them to let it go, or at least share it.”

The project was a partnership between the Council of Nova Scotia Archives and the Public Archives of Nova Scotia Board of Advisors. The albums are all searchable, allowing users to make connections across communities by searching terms that may come up in titles or descriptions.