FROM TIME TO TIME there have appeared in the Bystander column interesting articles connected with some phase of Canadian history, writes "E. A. A." We refer particularly to those in which mention has been made of the lives and customs of the pioneers of Ontario.
On other occasions, continues the writer, regret has been expressed by a few of your correspondents that much of this history is being lost sight of because past generations did not realize that they were making history and the present generations values it too lightly. Moreover, we find that in many municipalities records have been carelessly kept; exceedingly valuable small books and pamphlets in private hands have been destroyed or lost, and pioneer utensils and implements have disappeared in bonfires because someone has not cared. Did space permit we might toll many a story to prove it.
Some few years ago the editor of the Thorold Post wrote to the Bystander expressing regret that nothing, apparently, was being done to remedy this state of affairs; that something ought to be done, and that the Government ought to stand behind those who attempted the task, and, if we remember rightly, he added something to the effect that it might be done by some existing organization.
We quite agreed with him, and it was our privilege to inform him that for the past few years the Women's Institutes of the Province of Ontario were making the attempt through their Committee on Historical Research and Current Events.
Possibly because the institutes are not given to publicity, this effort of the rural women is not as well known as it might be, and so we shall be greatly indebted to the Bystander for space in which to call it to the attention of Globe readers. Our objective is this:
For every township its own authentic history, as complete as we can possibly make it, and for every county the combined history of its townships, towns and villages, and its own little county museum with county records, pioneer utensils and implements.
We have heard that an effort is likely to be made to gather such material and have it kept and displayed somewhere in Toronto. Certainly it would be better to have it there than nowhere; but supposing it were done, few of those in the many counties of Ontario would be privileged to see the collection, and such things should be easily available where they naturally belong, to the people of the rural districts.
The Women's Institutes are not a money-making institution. We have not asked the Government or any one else for financial assistance in collecting this material. The Department of Agriculture lends its moral support and the Department of Provincial Archives stands ready to give us any assistance in its power to aid in the work of research. We also are indebted to the Toronto Reference Library for its assistance.
Our special appeal at this time, however, is to those who may be interested, to give their support to the institutes in their own municipalities, to work with them to the end that such museums may be established and maintained.
In Wellington County at annual meeting of the Women's Institute Historical Society, representative of the whole county, and attended by several interested men, it was decided to make provision for such a museum, and a committee composed of one woman and two men was appointed to consider where the museum should be, and to make report to the district or county organization.
We already have stated that the Women's Institutes have not, too far as we know, asked for any financial assistance in collection of material, but, even though it is done on a small scale, the establishment of a museum is more or less expensive, and the local institutes are likely to need assistance in this respect.
In Haldimand County, though details have not been reported, we understand that the County Council, the Public School Inspector and the Women's Institutes are working together, that they have a representative board, and that the County Council, realizing the importance of the work, has donated a substantial sum for the furthering of it.
In this connection, concludes "E. A. A.," we are reminded of a certain extravagant small boy who had been forbidden to ask any one excepting his parents for money. One day his uncle, a banker, discovered him sitting on the steps of the bank, repeating ever and over, "Oh, I do wish I had five cents." Sternly the uncle said, "I thought I told you not to come here again asking for five cents," to which the boy replied, "Uncle Johnnie, I didn't ask you for five cents, but, I do wish I had five cents." We are not asking for money, but we see that it is needed, and ,we feel that when the men who have the means and authority in their municipalities have a proper conception? of the work they will lend their assistance.