County Archives: Holding history in our hands

The Prince Edward County Archives motto is “Proud to hold Prince Edward County’s history in our hands”, which is something that you will see happen every day at the Archives.

The Archives is part of the library system and is physically located at the Wellington Branch of the Library.

Archivist Molly McGowan, who is managing the archives while Krista Richardson is on maternity leave, is committed to collecting and preserving the history of Prince Edward County. She regularly works with a variety of archival sources including land deeds, wills, municipal records, newspapers, scrapbooks, and photographs.

Most days, you can find Molly working on a variety of reference requests, providing information for house histories, genealogical queries, and historical research.

One type of record she finds particularly fascinating are land abstracts. These records allow an individual to trace land ownership going back as far as 1830, by looking up the lot and concession number of a property.

The Archives also hold many of the related land deeds and wills, which provide a look into the history of County families.

Molly is able to tackle these varied requests as she brings a wealth of experience to the Archives. She has a Master of Information focusing on Archiving and Records Management and a Master of Museum Studies from the University of Toronto.

Previously, Molly has worked on archival contracts at CIBC and the Royal Ontario Museum and was the volunteer Archivist for The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Regimental Museum and Archives.

Molly is assisted by longtime library staff member Linda Mathews who will celebrate her 40th anniversary of library service this summer. Linda has an extensive knowledge of Prince Edward County history and a remarkable ability to recall where, and in which book a particular piece of information can be found. She has been the “go to” person for local history questions at the library for many years. Linda is currently working on digitizing the HASPE files, also known as the Historical Architectural Survey of Prince Edward.

These are the files that were used to create the Settler’s Dream, a standard for those interested in the architecture of Prince Edward County. If you have an older home in Prince Edward County, with significant architectural features, your home may be included in these files.

The Archives are currently selling a reproduction of the 1863 Tremaine Map to raise funds for a new microfilm reader. The large 5’ x 4’ replicas are available in canvas for $250 or vinyl for $120.

If you have any questions, are interested in researching your home, your family or another aspect of Prince Edward County history, or would like to purchase a copy of the 1863 Tremaine Map, contact Molly at mmcgowan@peclibrary.org or by phone (613) 399-2023.

Walk ins are welcome, but Molly highly suggests making an appointment to ensure all your research needs are met.

-Liz Zylstra