New Stratford-Perth Archives shows community’s commitment to preserving history is “second to none,” Mathieson – By Dan Rankin

ArchivesStratford Mayor Dan Mathieson, left, Perth South Mayor Robert Wilhelm and archivist Betty Jo Belton cut the ribbon at the grand opening of the Stratford-Perth Archives – Saturday, June 6.

Just steps from the Stratford-Perth Museum, the newly-opened Stratford-Perth Archives represent a fitting addition to what Stratford Mayor Dan Mathieson called the region’s “historical campus.”
Over 100 people came out for the ribbon-cutting at the Archives on Saturday, June 6, including MP Gary Schellenberger, MPP Randy Pettapiece, and Perth South Mayor Robert Wilhelm, to celebrate the grand opening of the state-of-the-art building capable of safely storing and maintaining more than 12,000 boxes of records and historical artifacts. The new building, located at 4273 Line 34 (Highway 8 west of Stratford), replaces the former archive offices in Mitchell, Stratford and Listowel.
Speaking during the ceremony before the assembled crowd was invited to come inside to take a look, Mathieson thanked the Orr family, Perth County council and the archivists over the years who helped make the building possible. “Opening this facility here speaks to the commitment, most of all, of the county and city towards our historical artifacts, our traditions, and the history of our county and our city,” he said. “When people look at this campus, they’re going to realize the commitment this community has to our historical artifacts, and of course our records, is second to none across this province.”
The Archives Association of Ontario recently supported Mathieson’s claim, when they named the County of Perth and City of Stratford as joint recipients of the 2015 Archives Association of Ontario Corporate Award for their longstanding and generous support of the Stratford-Perth Archives.
Also speaking at the ceremony was Robin Keirstead, of the AAO, who said the Corporate Award is given out each year “to organizations, institutions, corporations or agencies of any kind that have been particularly supportive of archives, and or the archival community.”
The Stratford-Perth Archives were established as a partnership between Stratford and Perth County in 1972, making them the second-oldest county archives in Ontario, Keirstead said. “While the almost four and a half decades of commitment likely merits receipt of this award in its own right, we also are recognizing the most recent investment, the building that’s officially being opened today,” he said, noting that the Royal Society of Canada had also recently singled out the Stratford-Perth Archives as an “excellent example of how the dedication and commitment to archives can exist in small locations as well as large.”
Inside following the ceremony, archivist Betty Jo Belton gave a tour of some of the features of the building, including the impressive collections room, which is humidity controlled and protected by a high-tech fire-suppression system, and the preservation lab for cleaning and restoring documents.
As the grand opening ceremony took place on the 71st anniversary of D-Day, and this year is the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, it’s fitting that the archives’ first exhibit – named “Victory Comes Home” — features information, materials and photos relating to how this region celebrated the end of the war. “The museum has the Anne Frank exhibit opening, and people can then go from that building to over here, to look at the history of what happened in the world and how it was settled here within our community,” Mathieson said. The “Victory Comes Home” exhibit will be in place until Remembrance Day.
The Stratford-Perth Archives are now open to the public. It’s hours are 10:00 am to 4:00 pm Monday to Saturday. Beginning in October, the Archives winter hours are 10:00 am to 4:00 pm Monday to Friday, and Saturdays by appointment only. Winter hours extend October to March.
For more information, call 519-271-0531 extension 259 to reach the Archives reference desk.