Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Friday, September 21, 2012

Blessed are the Bookmakers

Lest there be any confusion, this post has nothing to do with off-track (or on- for that matter) betting. It is a tribute to the clippers - folks who peruse their local papers, glean items of interest, and actually DO something with them - not put them in a forgotten folder somewhere, or leave them in a filing pile. They make books. I have discovered that a favourite medium for this sort of dedicated amateur historian is the 'magnetic' photo album with plastic overleaf which safely anchors photos (to be sure) but most importantly, newspaper clippings, in a neat and accessible manner. From these clippings from 20, 30 or even 40 years ago we learn about ourselves - about what concerned us, what interested us, and even more importantly (like classic films do) they tell us how we responded to those stories. Certainly we were more polite then. But the folks I know, who collected clippings and made books, were hell-raisers in their day - hell-raisers in hats and gloves.

From Dorothy's album - both still standing
Today a lovely neighbour appeared unexpectedly at my door, and loaned me one such book. This scrapbook of clippings was one of dozens made by her mother in the 1980's. It chronicled the actions of preservationists to save significant buildings in our city, and celebrated the human and political history those structures represented. My neighbour's mom was Dorothy Sargent, who was one of the earliest movers and shakers in the local Historical Society, when it was housed in the Registry Office, a building which no longer exists (ironically).

We've lost only one of these
Another clipper extraordinaire is Lois Foster, Belleville's  non pareil 'old house researcher.' Lois has not one book of old house stories; she has a houseful. And she is most generous to share them with writers and researchers. At the moment I have a pile of  6 or 8 of these irreplaceable resources sitting beside me in my study.

And our local library had, until recently, had clippers collecting local stories. I have on many occasions used their 'house books' - binders full of articles pertaining to local buildings, arranged alphabetically by street. Invaluable.

Ladies...start your scissors!

No comments:

Post a Comment