Looking over the contents of the North Lanark Regional Museum in the Village of Appleton it is apparent that the collection of things from the past hundred years or so is nothing more sublime than a Waltham pocket watch given as a wedding gift, a Teddy Bear originally named after the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, a medal issued by the citizens of Almonte in commemoration of Harry McIntosh, a soldier of the First World War, the glass plate negative of a school house classroom, a creamer, ice tongs from a log home, military medals, a milk pitcher belonging to one of the first settlers, a Pinard Horn a type of stethoscope used to listen to the fetal heartbeat invented in France by obstetrician Dr. Adolphe Pinard who was an early supporter of advancing prenatal care, a Fleam being a commonly used medical instrument when bloodletting was a frequent practice, a doll made from dried corn husk leaves and corn silk, a practice credited to the aboriginal people of Canada, a military greatcoat, a wall clock made by the Arthur Pequegnat Clock Company in Kitchener, Ontario which used to hang in the School Section (S.S.) No. 11 school in the Village of Appleton, blacksmithing spectacles, a porridge pot brought to Canada from Scotland in 1821, a weaving shuttle used in the Collie Woollen Mills, a handmade quilt, an antique copy of the works of Thomas Moore, 19th-century Irish poet and lyricist, a commode chair, a bread mixer and dough maker, a Red Rose Tea porcelain figurine, graniteware pie plates, and a T. Eaton Co. trophy presented to the student with the most points at the Ramsay School Fair in 1937 won by Malcolm Frederick Benjamin James, a student at S.S. #11 Ramsay in the Village of Appleton. Yet these less than stellar things, pedestrian as they are, instantly capture one’s wistful attention and reflect similar items which many of us to this day continue to cherish in our boudoir drawers and disconnected cupboards like cousins twice removed or a garbled narrative.

North Lanark Regional Museum

Given the violation of burial and cremation it is no wonder these so-called heirlooms are the only tangible features that remain of one’s foray upon the face of the earth. Whilst one is alive they frequently constitute valuable mementos of personal and family past.  I revel in my collection of intimate items much the way I imagine a Nomad might do.  The first thirty years of my life were spent hopping between boarding school north of Toronto to Stockholm, Sweden where my parents lived, then between undergraduate university in North Toronto, law school in Halifax, Osgoode Hall in downtown Toronto, Articles on Sparks Street and finally Almonte where I practiced law and have resided ever since. Though I have been in Almonte since 1976 the wanderlust has never escaped me. Thankfully we’ve agreed to settle in Almonte to our dying days – though I confess the allure of the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia or its eastern seaboard has never fully vanished from my enigmatic nautical dreams. We have – at least until this year – succeeded to punctuate our homebound version of life by escaping for six months each year to Hilton Head Island or Longboat Key.

Meanwhile I blissfully content myself to digest the current environment and my special trinkets which astonishingly have never escaped my immersion. I preserve that distinctly Scottish skepticism of impending peril not unlike an animal forced to flee its burrow. But I’ll have my things to take with me!

Not all of my treasures are portable. Accordingly in preparation for the upcoming Doom I have by degrees reduced my absorption to bijou items – things such as a millefiori paperweight, a 20 oz  silver ingot, a handmade teak bowl, a Waterford crystal receptacle, a walnut walking stick, a Royal Crown Derby English bone china ornament and various accessories some of which are perfect junk but which nonetheless recall what are memorable moments in my history. I distinguish myself from a packrat or hoarder because I perpetually review and eliminate certain of my gimcrack. It is an expression of my contemporaneous appetite for novelty and change.  Sometimes I imagine I am “done” with certain objects – only to be renewed subsequently in an alternate form. It is not an indulgence I am proud of but I nonetheless acknowledge what seems  to be an imperceptible but heightened augmentation of the qualitative element to my knick-knacks. In a word I have become incrementally more judicious and selective.  Part of the transformation is a reflection of both experience, expertise and elemental functions such as artisans and materials.

Post Scriptum

Below is a copy of an email from Mrs. Marilyn Snedden who, apart from being a member of a distinguished family with a long history in Lanark County, is among those championing the preservation of its archival records.

Hi Bill

I’m making good headway updating all the family trees, adding photos and additions in the last 3 decades.

The Land Registry Office situation is quiet. We have been assured that all records remain in the office until they get them all digitized. I imagine the COVID crisis is taking top billing in the Ontario Govt. The county and some municipalities have sent letters of support. Meanwhile Archives Lanark has heard nothing more from Beckwith about their new building going ahead so we sit and wait.

My dream is still that the Almonte office would be perfect for a Lanark County Archives but that is all it is unless a miracle happens.


The Millstone News
by Marilyn Snedden
December 28, 2012

We have just learned that the Lanark Land Registry Office #27 in Almonte has been instructed to box all the Land Documents and Abstract Books which are being held there, and ship them off to an unknown site in the province for storage since the documents are on microfilm and on a data base on the computers there. Almonte is one of the last Land Registry offices in Ontario to be affected by this Queen’s Park decision. How is it that no one knew anything about this? 

This same scenario happened in 1995-97, when the Government of the day decided to SHRED all the original land documents as a cost saving measure. Due to action from the Ontario historical societies, APOLROD was formed to find facilities in each county for the records and the Lanark County Genealogical Society received those documents/books for Lanark County covering the years 1868-1955. They are now housed at Archives Lanark,1920 Concession 7, near Drummond Centre and are accessible to all.

We, at Archives Lanark, would have appreciated the opportunity to add the Lanark County hard copy documents/abstract books, which are ready for shipment, to the holdings already in the Archives inventory.

The Archives, managed by a group of volunteers dedicated to the preservation of the paper trail detailing Lanark’s past, has devoted many hours over the past 10 years to build a facility where the documented history of Lanark County is collected, stored and accessible to the general public for years to come.

In an attempt to reverse this decision, and keep this most important, and critical foundation of Lanark history in the County, we ask the help of everyone who cares about their roots! This week Lanark County Council has approved a strong resolution to the Minister of Social Services,Dwight Duncan,requesting that these original documents remain in our county. Please make your concerns known to members of Lanark County Council, Township Councils, your MPP, and MP.

Most of these documents are packed, ready for shipment from Almonte by late January.  Time is critical. An e-mail, letter, telephone call, and especially, personal contact with our politicians might keep Lanark County’s most basic records at home. The most logical result would see the documents stay at the local office since they have room, unlike other,older offices.

Archives Lanark will be open in the new year on January 4, 2013 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The County Registry Office built in 1879