The Elgin Historical Society was formed under its original name, the Elgin Historical and Scientific Institute, on April 29, 1891, and was soon thereafter affiliated with the Ontario Historical Society.
A separate women's section of the Institute, variously known as the Ladies' Auxiliary or Women's Historical Society, was formed in 1899 and continued in operation until the early 1920s.
For many years the Institute maintained offices, a library and a small museum in the St. Thomas Court House, initially in the original building (destroyed by fire in July 1898), and subsequently, beginning in 1900, in the new Court House.
Prominent early Presidents of the Institute included James H. Coyne, Registrar of Deeds for Elgin County, who also served as President of the Ontario Historical Society and the Royal Society of Canada; Judge C.O. Ermatinger; and long-time Elgin County Clerk K.W. McKay.
The Elgin Historical and Scientific Institute collected, preserved and exhibited archival documents and artifacts, and sponsored numerous publications relevant to the history of Elgin County. At its regular meetings, Institute members presented essays on various subjects. In addition, the Institute raised funds to organize public events and to support the erection of numerous markers and memorials commemorating individuals and events significant in the history of Elgin County, including, in 1903, a four-day celebration in St. Thomas of the Talbot Centennial, marking the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Talbot Settlement by Colonel Thomas Talbot.
As a result of declining membership, the Society ceased active operations in the early 1940s. At this time, the Society donated a significant portion of its collection of archival documents and artifacts to the Public Archives of Canada.
The Elgin Historical Society was reconstituted in 1967 as a centennial project and has continued in operation since then. For many years, The Society maintained its library and archive of artifacts and documents in the Elgin County Pioneer Museum, St. Thomas.
The Society's objectives as outlined in its constitution are to "bring together those people interested in the diverse heritage of Elgin County and St. Thomas...to research, retain, preserve and present historical data pertaining to the region...to solicit for preservation artifacts, arms, uniforms, military accoutrements, and other objects of historical interest...to solicit for preservation manuscripts, letters, documents, maps, books, pictures and other materials relating to the Society's objectives...to participate in public functions designed to perpetuate the memory of the past...[and] to publish and republish historical material with the aim of disseminating local history over a wide area."
The records composing the fonds were created, collected and maintained by the Elgin Historical and Scientific Institute and the Elgin Historical Society. Records were stored as part of a much larger collection at the Elgin County Pioneer Museum, and moved to the basement of Yurek's Drug Store, St. Thomas after the Museum fire in 2001. Records were donated to the Elgin County Archives in December 2002.
Scope and Content
Fonds consists of records created, collected and maintained by the Elgin Historical Society and its predecessor the Elgin Historical and Scientific Institute. Fonds includes minutes of Society meetings; administrative records including annual reports, constitution and by-laws, financial statements, lists of officers, programmes, newsletters and membership lists; correspondence; photographs; records relating to the Society's involvement in the annual Talbot Anniversary Dinner; Society-sponsored publications; and papers and essays prepared for or presented to the Society. The Miscellaneous Records series principally consists of archival records relating to various Elgin County municipal officials, institutions and agencies, collected and maintained by the Society as part of its mandate to preserve and provide access to resources for the study of Elgin County history. Fonds also includes records of the Ontario Historical Society, collected and maintained by the Elgin Historical Society and the Elgin Historical and Scientific Institute, and an 1886 colour perspective map of the City of St. Thomas that includes a classified business directory and illustrations of prominent city buildings.
Fonds is arranged in the following series:
2. Talbot Anniversary Dinner
5. Papers and Essays
8. Ontario Historical Society Records
10. Miscellaneous Records
Series consists of miscellaneous records created, collected and maintained by the Elgin Historical Society and its predecessor the Elgin Historical and Scientific Institute.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F1 contains miscellaneous legal documents, 1830-1893: indenture of bargain and sale dated August 6, 1830 between Cyrus M. Beach and [Asel?] B. Lewis concerning Lot 3, Fifth Concession, Township of Malahide; indenture of apprenticeship dated April 1, 1846 between William Jackson, Herman Gabriel Chartrain and Henry Huff; indenture for the conveyance of real property dated August 26, 1856 between Jonathan Johnston Teetzell and Ann Travers concerning part of Lot 22 north on Talbot Road East in the Township of Southwold; sworn deposition by Alfred Ryckman of the Township of Malahide dated April 17, 1859 charging that Elisha Sheldon Ganson of the Township of Malahide murdered Dennis Frost with an axe on April 16, 1859; form headed "Information and Complaint for an Indictable Offence" sworn by Isaac Smith of the Township of Malahide, May 13, 1865, charging David Mann, formerly of the Township of Malahide with attempted murder; and depositions dated April 6, 1893 concerning the examination of William Lough of the Town of Ridgetown in the County of Kent on a charge of stealing money from Florence Moody.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F2 contains miscellaneous newspaper clippings, 1893-1918.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F3 contains programme for historical exhibition in the Old Town Hall, St. Thomas, May 22-29, 1899.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F4 contains lists of authors of student essays organized by Township and School Section, [189-?].
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F5 contains Talbot Centennial Banquet notice, invitation (photocopy), and programme, 1903.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F6 contains C.O. Ermatinger prospectus for publication by subscription of sequel to "The Talbot Regime," a work to be titled "The Second Half of the Talbot Settlement: 1853-1903," [191-?].
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F7 contains programme for unveiling of Port Talbot Memorial, June 30, 1926 (photocopy).
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F8 contains programme for dedication of commemoration tablet at Southwold Prehistoric Earthwork, September 15, 1930.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F9 contains itinerary and historical notes for Ontario Historical Society visit to Elgin County, June 1952.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F10 contains deposition of W.C. Miller concerning the Society's claim to the Mrs. Wilson bequest of land on Elgin St., St. Thomas, 1964.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F11 contains newspaper clippings concerning the preservation of the Elgin County Jail, 1977-1978.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F12 contains miscellaneous newspaper clippings concerning the Society's activities, 1978-1989.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F13 contains "Tribute and Toast to Colonel Thomas Talbot, Delivered at the Gravesite...May 18, 1984," by Don Cosens.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F14 contains notice of meeting to establish a committee to preserve and maintain Malahide Farm, the Talbot Homestead.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F15 contains dinner ticket, Trinity Anglican Church, St. Thomas, December 14, 1988.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F16 contains notes for walking tour of old St. Thomas, [1988?].
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F17 contains invitation to Society's 100th anniversary celebration, April 29, 1991.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F18 contains a scrapbook illustrating the history of the Society, 1891-2003.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F19 contains a copy of "One of The Few" by Wayne Neal, published by the Elgin Military Museum, 2000: a biography of Pilot Officer Neil Campbell, St. Thomas, and his service in the RAF 242 'All-Canadian' Squadron, 1940.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F20 contains photocopies of articles written by George Thorman and published in the St. Thomas Courier in 1978 under the general column title "The Way It Was", principally concerning the history of specific City buildings, including the Free Trade Building, corner of Talbot and St. George Streets; Ponsford House, 106 Elgin Street; the Elgin Block, northeast corner of Talbot and New Streets; the Beaver Block, corner of Talbot and John Streets; the Free Library of the City of St. Thomas, Talbot Street; George Wegg residence, corner of Pearl and Curtis Streets; William Arkell residence, 91 Metcalfe Street.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F21 contains a blank form, circa 1900, headed "Information to Obtain a Search Warrant". Used in applying for a search warrant before a Justice of the Peace in the County of Elgin.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F22 contains printed instructions for knitting the "Elgin Sock", compiled by M.C. Foss, published and distributed by the Canadian War Contingent Association and St. Thomas Patriotic Women: presumably prepared to assist and encourage women to knit socks for delivery to Canadian servicemen during the First World War. To view the brochure, enter R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F22 in the "Any word or phrase" search box.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F23 contains ticket, programme, advertisement and notes for theatrical performance entitled "When We Dead Awaken: A Ghost Walk Through the Talbot Settlement", held September 2001 at Old St. Thomas' Church, Walnut Street, St. Thomas. Fundraising event organized by the Old St. Thomas' Church Restoration Committee and the Talbot Bi-Centennial Committee, with performance by the King's Company of Re-Enactors.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F24 contains article published in the London Free Press, December 19, 1964 concerning James Milton of Iona Station, who worked as a lineman for various Elgin County area telephone companies from 1906 to 1964, including the Dunwich and Dutton Telephone Company and the Southwold and Dunwich Telephone Association Limited. Includes photographs.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F25 contains copy of undated newspaper article published in the St. Thomas Times [before 1918] including photographs of various Shedden and area residents gathered at the home of Mrs. Abe Sells, Shedden. Shown in the photographs are Mrs. John Sells, Mrs. Abe Sells, Mr. and Mrs. L. Bainard, Mr. and Mrs. David Hughes, Mr. and Mrs. William Farrah, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Broan, Mr. and Mrs, William Lumsden, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson Warner, Mr. Thomas Armstrong, Mrs. Dan Turner, Mr. Joseph Spackman and Miss Eliza Spackman. Photographs were taken by Mr. G.H. Sells.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F26 contains St. Thomas Model School graduation dinner menu, December 13, 1901, together with correspondence between the donor, Mr. Laurie J. Winter, Glendon, Alberta, and the Elgin Historical Society.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F27 contains copy of genealogical research entitled "William Hatch of Bayham Township...With Notes on Related Families: Bowes, Brown, Culp, Dean, High, Johnson, Merritt, Montross, Speice and Travis" compiled and published in 1972 by Donald G. Lane.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F28 contains copy of typescript notes with photographic illustrations relating to a walking tour of pre-Jumbo era homes in the City of St. Thomas conducted June 1985 by George Thorman, Don Cosens and Steve Peters. 17 page tour with 49 points of interest. Sponsored by the St. Thomas Jumbo Centennial Committee.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F29 contains copies of newspaper articles concerning Thomas Talbot, the Talbot Estate and the Talbot Settlement published in the London Free Press, July 1971.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F30 contains copy of a pamphlet entitled "Southwold Prehistoric Earthworks: A Neutral Indian Village," prepared circa 1980 by Parks Canada in co-operation with the Elgin West Women's Institute.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F31 contains two copies of a drawing by J.F. Green depicting the exterior of the Elgin County Pioneer Museum, dated May 5, 1962.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F32 contains programme for a series of public lectures organized in 1988 by Alma College, St. Thomas.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F33 contains programme for a series of public music concerts organized in 1988 by Alma College, St. Thomas.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F34 contains three copies of a booklet containing rules and regulations and schedule of water rates for the St. Thomas Waterworks, 1900.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F35 contains typescript history of the St. Thomas Waterworks, circa 1935.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F36 contains Y.W.C.A. of St. Thomas Devotional and Educational Programme for 1909-1910.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F37 contains undated typescript list of St. Thomas Post Office locations.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F38 contains two copies of programme for unveiling of plaque commemorating the founding of the Talbot Settlement, Elgin County Court House, St. Thomas, September 11, 1971. Jointly organized by the County of Elgin, the City of St. Thomas, the Archaeological and Historic Sites Board of Ontario, and the Department of Public Records and Archives of Ontario.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F39 contains two copies of reprints of an obituary notice/ tribute for James Henry Coyne (1849-1942), published by Fred Landon in Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada. Coyne was the chief organizer and first president of the Elgin Historical and Scientific Institute (founded 1891 - later reorganized as the Elgin Historical Society), and the Pioneer and Historical Association of Ontario (founded 1888 and later renamed the Ontario Historical Society). Coyne also served for many years as Registrar of Deeds for the County of Elgin (appointed 1888).
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F40 contains reprint of an article published by James Henry Coyne in Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, Third Series, Volume XXII, 1928, entitled "Presidential Address: The Sixty Eventful Years," a summary of significant events in the history of the Dominion of Canada, 1867-1928.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F41 contains photocopy of a letter to the editor by Margaret Coyne, published in the St. Thomas Times-Journal, January 20, 1948, entitled "Setting Matters Straight About the Buildings Now on the Historic Col. Talbot Estate."
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F42 contains notice of a public meeting organized by the St. Thomas branch of the Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee to discuss strategies for preserving the architectural heritage of St. Thomas, [198-?].
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F43 contains undated typescript transcriptions of two letters concerning the establishment of the Talbot Settlement Anniversary: one letter, dated at Port Talbot, March 10, 1817, is addressed from Thomas Talbot to "the inhabitants of the Talbot Settlement"; the second letter, undated, and signed on behalf of a larger group by J. Wilson and L. Patterson, is addressed to Thomas Talbot. Typescripts found in file labelled "Four Winds Press".
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F44 contains reprint of an article published by the Ontario Historical Society in its journal Papers and Records, Volume XXIII, 1926, entitled "The Bold Canadian: A Ballad of the War of 1812," attributed to Pte. Flumerfelt, with an introduction by James Henry Coyne.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F45 contains a photocopy of a prospectus announcing the publication of and soliciting orders for The Talbot Papers, Part I, edited by James Henry Coyne and published in Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, Third Series, 1907-1908.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F46 contains original receipt dated July 1, 1842 and signed by Thomas Talbot: "Received of Edmond Westlake the sum of twenty four pounds five shillings and four pence farthing as payment in full with interest for lot number fifteen south on Edgeware Road in Yarmouth one hundred acres at twelve shillings and six pence per acre." File also includes correspondence concerning the receipt dated May-June, 1903 between Mrs. E. Westlake, New Sarum and Mrs. E.W. Gustin, member of the Society's Council and Vice-President of the Society's Ladies' Auxiliary.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F47 contains copies of St. Luke's Community, a monthly newsletter published by St. Luke's Church, Yarmouth Heights, St. Thomas. Includes Volume 1, Number 2, February 1919; Volume 1, Number 8, August 1919; and Volume 1, Number 9, September 1919. February 1919 issue includes article entitled A Brief History of St. Luke's Church, by Rev. W.F. Brownlee.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F48 contains two copies of a paper entitled "The Political Power of Colonel Thomas Talbot" by Paul Baldwin, published by the Ontario Historical Society. Published in 1965 or later, probably in the late 1960s.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F49 contains a scrapbook containing newspaper clippings concerning the City of St. Thomas for the period November 13, 1934-March 20, 1935.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F50 contains a pamphlet produced and distributed in 1990 by the Elgin County Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society outlining the Branch's mandate, schedule of meetings, special projects, benefits and conditions of membership.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F51 contains a pamphlet entitled "Visit 'the Hill' in St. Thomas" produced and distributed by the Southwestern Ontario Travel Association, [199-?]. Includes descriptions and illustrations of key tourist attractions in St. Thomas, including the Jumbo Monument, Elgin Military Museum, Old St. Thomas Church on Walnut Street, and Elgin County Pioneer Museum.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F52 contains six postcards, [190-?], depicting St. Thomas landmarks: Queen's Bridge (sepia-toned), Talbot Street (black & white), Wellington Street School (colour), M.C.C.R. Bridge (colour), M.C.C.R. Yards (colour), and Bird's Eye View Looking West From City Hall (colour). All contain correspondence, and four are postmarked either 1911 or 1912. Addressees include Mrs. Dugald Tallman, Iona Station, and Mr. V.E. Wickerson, London. Laminated for display by the Elgin Historical Society.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F53 contains petitions dated February-March, 1901 and addressed to the Earl of Minto, Governor-General of Canada, by the municipal councils of the Village of Port Stanley (2 copies), the Village of Springfield (2 copies), the Township of Dunwich (2 copies), the Village of Dutton (2 copies), the Town of Dresden (2 copies), the Township of Gosfield North (2 copies), and the Township of Caradoc in support of an application by the Elgin Historical and Scientific Institute for a grant to pay for the erection of a monument in St. Thomas to commemorate Queen Victoria, the establishment and development of the Talbot Settlement, and the military service of area residents during the War of 1812 and the Boer War.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F54 contains a letter dated at Southwold, May 24, 1843, from Colin Munro to John Siton or Aiton, Mission Institute, near Quincy, Adams County, Illinois, USA. Postmarked at St. Thomas (May 24, 1843) and Detroit (May 27, 1843). Munro discusses his struggles with religious faith, his work as a school teacher in St. Thomas, the construction of plank roads in the district, construction work at the harbour in Port Stanley and ship traffic between Cleveland, Ohio and Port Stanley. Munro also mentions several mutual acquaintances, including John Campbell and George Bonaton, as well as an extra-marital relationship between Jane Begg and Neil Darrach, described as a cart maker, that resulted in their marriage, the birth of a daughter and the death in childbirth of Jane Begg. Colin Munro served as Sherriff of the County of Elgin, 1852-1869.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F55 contains the letter book of James Bell for the period August 1896-April 1903, including copies of out-going correspondence relating to Bell's duties as City Engineer for the City of St. Thomas.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F56 contains an accounts ledger for an unidentified [St. Thomas?] livery stable business for the period March 1852-February 1856, with an index of client account names. The book was later used as a recipe book and household accounts book ca 1896, and later still used as a notebook by a primary school student, possibly a member of the Stover family.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F57 contains the minute book of the Balaclava Home and School Council and its predecessor the Balaclava Mothers' Club for the period May 1919-September 1932. The Balaclava Mothers' Club was established at a meeting held May 20, 1919. The club was for mothers of schoolchildren in the Balaclava Street School District in St. Thomas, Ontario, and was organized to provide social opportunities for its members, to promote an exchange of information and mutual support, to foster parent-teacher relations, and to raise funds. 40 women became members of the Club at its organization meeting. In September 1931 the Club changed its name to the Balaclava Home and School Council.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F58 contains file cards comprising the membership records of the St. Thomas and District Horticultural Society for the period 1943-1945. Cards include members' names and addresses, and notations indicating payment of annual fees.
File R7 S2 Sh3 B1 F59 contains an envelope addressed to Mr. W.H. Murch, [1903?] bearing letterhead of the Elgin Historical and Scientific Institute.