What is an “archive”? The Oxford dictionary defines an archive as a “place in which public records are kept.” But for anyone who has worked on genealogy research, an archive is so much more. An archive is the written and recorded history of a family or a town. It is more than just names and dates: it tells about the ebb and flow of lives, where people came from, how long they stayed, and where they went next.
Joan Champ, archivist at the Canada Diefenbaker Centre, wrote a fascinating article about Arthur Silver Morton, and his great love of and determination to preserve western Canadian history.
The early residents of Saskatchewan came from so many places, and Arthur Silver Morton, a history professor and librarian at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon was the catalyst for making people aware of the historical significance of our province’s history. Until his death in 1945, he worked tirelessly to collect and preserve historical documents and artifacts, and because of his ongoing work, he became an expert on Canadian history in the West. Not that he stayed cloistered in the university library, working; his research continued “in the field” as he roamed the province in search of lost forts. Ms. Champ’s article tells us that Morton found more than twenty old forts in his travels.
Passionate about history and preserving it for future generations, Morton began several historical societies, including the Historical Association at the University of Saskatchewan. This association was active in collecting various historical artifacts that were, over the years, kept in various locations at the University. Sadly, the collection was destroyed in a fire in 1947. But his hard work was not in vain, because he is known for setting up the first archives in the province, the Historical Public Records Office, which later became the Saskatche-wan Archives Board.
Morton’s work, combined with the efforts of Edmund Oliver (the first history professor at the U of S and also passionate about preserving historical data) gives history buffs of today a treasure trove of information to explore. Through their research, information about the brave, hard-working, and innovative men and women who made this province is preserved for the future.
All research is important, and if you are interested in genealogy, you might like to join the Yorkton chapter of the Saskatchewan Genealogy Society. You will meet people who are at all stages of genealogy research, and have much valuable information to share. The group meets on the second Tuesday of each month in the History Room at the Yorkton Public Library; new members are always welcome. The next meeting is on Tuesday, March 13 at 7:00 PM in the History Room, with special guest speaker Linda Burback sharing information about pioneers.
Any information you write down is saved, and that becomes very important whether your research is to fill in the branches of your family tree, or to preserve the memory of a community that may be dwindling over the years. Every family and every community has a story: discover yours with the Yorkton Branch of the Saskatchewan Genealogy Society! For more information call Glenn at 782-7969 or Dave at 783-1093.
Submitted by Debbie Hayward