Alberton museum’s new genealogy centre honours founder

Eric McCarthy
Published on July 30, 2014

ALBERTON -- The museum that Eileen Oulton started in Alberton continues to grow nearly 36 years after its founder’s death.

Last winter the Alberton Musum obtained Innovation P.E.I. funding for an expansion to house the facility’s extensive genealogy and archival material. During the official opening of what is now known as the Eileen Oulton Genealogy Tuesday night it was obvious everyone in attendance was thrilled Oulton is being remembered for her efforts to preserve local history.

She was described as a woman ahead of her time and Arlene Morrison, who has managed the museum since 1985, assured everyone that Oulton is not forgotten “She’s talked about every day,” Morrison said of Oulton’s contributions.

A nephew of Eileen Oulton, James Irving, made a special trip home from Ottawa to be in attendance for Tuesday’s opening. “Oh, she would be so gratified,” he responded when asked what he thought she would think of the new centre in her name.

“I wouldn’t have missed this for anything,” Irving said of the recognition for a woman he described as “the favourite person in our whole family.”

“I wanted to see how they would remember her, and they certainly did, and they’ve honoured her,” he said proudly.

The museum first opened in a barn on the Bill and Eileen Oulton property in 1965. After her death on December 23, 1978, the museum operated there for one more summer and, by then, work was already underway to convert the former courthouse building on Church Street into a museum. Artifacts were moved there over the winter of 1979-80 and the museum re-opened in its current location in the summer of 1980.

Dr. Allan McRae worked with Mrs. Oulton when she ws getting the museum started helping to clean rtifacts. He marveled how she could multi-task, such as record genealogy information on little pieces of paper while doing other jobs. He described her as a very, very busy lady and ahead of her time. “Looking back, I know she wouldn’t believe that we are here tonight with this room,” McRae commented.

Lynda Curtis, president of the Alberton Historical Preservation Foundation, told of attending a Canadian Heritage activity and hearing Catherine Hennessey suggest Eileen Oulton should be a national historic site because of the work she has done.

“Maybe that needs to be our next project,” Curtis suggested.

Curtis also gave recognition to the late Jean Meggison whose extensive Island genealogy work takes up considerable space along one wall of the 20 by 21 foot expansion.

The project, which started in the dead of winter, cost $50,000 and was largely funded by Innovations P.E.I. through Skills P.E.I.