Longtime volunteer Marlene Dietrich works on one of 20 boxes of obituaries for geneology research at the community archives, located inside the Alberni Valley Museum. (ORLANDO DELANO/Special to the News)

VALLEY SENIORS: Volunteers preserve Alberni Valley’s history

History matters to the people who look after region’s archives


Special to the News

Someone once wrote: “Because history plays a vital role in our everyday lives, we are able to learn from our past in order to achieve greater influence over our future”.

The history of our Alberni Valley is being preserved thanks to the dedicated and professional work of a group of devoted volunteers who work in the archives in the Alberni Valley Museum.

In order to learn more about the archives, we recently paid a visit to the museum, home of the Alberni District Historical Society. The society, which now counts more than 30 members, was established in 1965. This is where the historical archives are kept and preserved by a group of more than 20 volunteers, who meet in two groups twice a week. This past year more than 2,000 volunteer hours were logged in.

The Alberni District Historical Society manages the archive collection—valuable records of the past that tell the story of our community. Volunteers acquire and preserve the community’s paper treasures. This material includes documents, letters, microfilmed local newspapers dating back to 1907, early Canadian census reports, audio tapes, extensive newspaper clipping files, biographies, books and publications, and maps chiefly relating to the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District area.

The City of Port Alberni provides the physical location at the museum for the filings and the place for the volunteers to perform their work. “We are the guardians of these records,” says one of its members. “We have eight filing cabinets with information on marriages, births, deaths, organizations, businesses etc. and enormous sliding storage units. In addition to those records, the cabinets also store many biographies and obituaries, more than 1,000 maps of our region, school registers which go back to 1912, and much more.

The acquisition of both public and private records is by donation, transfer, gift and bequest, to preserve and hold in trust for future generations. The public has access to the extensive collection. Knowledgeable volunteers are available to assist.

An important aspect of the archive staff is the Genealogy Club, which also operates with volunteers. The Genealogy Club is currently recording births, marriages and deaths from the local newspapers, dating back to 1907.

Local residents are welcome to add to the collection by bringing items for evaluation to the archive volunteers on their meeting days, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Archives may also be viewed by appointment – call 720-2863 (ext. 267) or e-mail aadhs1@gmail.com.

The historical society holds frequent meetings in the museum with guest speakers. The public is welcome to attend these informative and interesting evenings.

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Some of the volunteers who take care of the Alberni District Historical Archives are, clockwise from top left, Jane McMillan, Candra Holmes, Maxine Munsil, Marlene Dietrich, Diane Dobson and Gareth Flostrand. (ORLANDO DELANO PHOTO)

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