Our good luck – although it really didn’t seem so at the time – came in the form of a mountain of inventory that we started sifting through during the summer of 2016.
Over the years, the Museum had been accepting artefact donations that weren’t always relevant to the Regiment. These items were interesting but, as a small, volunteer-run museum, the practical reality is that we have to focus resources on caring for and interpreting artefacts that are core to our story. We’ve been looking at each artefact in our inventory and considering whether it fits with us, or whether another museum could offer it a better home.
Our storage area was filled to capacity and then some. For those who don’t know, when this project began, the Museum’s storage was located on the third floor of the Minto Armouries. Years earlier, that space had been an apartment for the Armoury’s former caretakers. As museum storage, however, it left much to be desired in terms of light and temperature control.
The storage space was a hot, airless place that summer. It was dirty work clearing through decades of inventory. Climbing up and down three flights of stairs to move items didn't help matters.
The good news is that if we hadn’t been preoccupied with this work we would have started “cleaning up” the Archives. While we would have gone in with the best of intentions, we would have nonetheless wreaked havoc on those archival records. As we’ve grown to appreciate, archiving is a black art/science best left to experts or, at the very least, the supervision of experts.
A sad but fairly true account of how things would have gone (less the gorilla) is captured in the Library and Archives Canada document “A Guide to the Preservation of Archival Materials”.
As the inventory cleanup marched on, thankfully the Empress Dragon – Guardian of the Archives – joined our team. Under her leadership, we now have a proper archival system… and good archive etiquette (no gorillas in our Archives!).
The bottom line is that the archives are the heart and lungs of any museum. It is what let's us tell the story of the Regiment. We invite you to come visit our archives and read about our soldiers' fascinating stories and lives.