THE CONSERVATION OF EARLY COUNCIL MINUTE BOOKS
To commemorate Ottawa’s 150th anniversary as a city, the Friends of the City of Ottawa Archives (FCOA) launched the preservation of the earliest township council minutes that were acquired following amalgamation in 2001. At that time, ten former municipalities were added the city. Many historically important records of these entities were in need of stabilization, but the City’s conservation budgets were limited.
Council minutes provide the official record of decisions impacting on the day-to-day running and longer-term evolution of a municipality. Their contents – everything from road building to relief for indigents – captures the life of the former townships, from their independent political beginnings in1850 and rapid agricultural growth, to their 20th century responses to technological change and urbanization.
Most importantly, the preservation of council minutes and other municipal documents by the Archives, coupled with a commitment to make them accessible for public scrutiny, reflects the key role that such records play in democratic society in assessing the degree to which municipal government has been accountable to its tax-paying citizens.
At the beginning of the project, City Archives staff identified the council minutes requiring the most immediate and extensive conservation treatments:
Gloucester Township, 1872–1878 (1 vol.)
March Township, 1850–1882 (1 vol.)
Nepean Township, 1836–1866; 1867 –1874 (2 vols.)
Osgoode Township, 1850–1860; 1860–1871 (2 vols.)
FCOA engaged the services of a professional conservator/restorer who, from spring 2006 to spring 2008, spent more than 400 hours to complete this work. Thanks to the generosity of contributors who responded to FCOA’s ongoing promotion of the project through the media and at numerous heritage events, over $13,000 was eventually raised, enabling the restoration of all six volumes to be completed. Donors included genealogical libraries partnering with the City Archives, several city departments with vested interests in the preservation of city records, as well as many members of the public who either visited the Archives or attended heritage events in the community.
FCOA is proud to unveil the restored volumes on April 8, 2008, during Ontario’s Archives Awareness Week.
Minute Book -- Before:
Minute Book -- After:
[Osgoode 1850 - 1860. Photos: Kyla Ubbink]