After 15 years of gathering, compiling and distributing the history of three western P.E.I. communities, the Elmsdale and Area Historical Society has laid down its pen.
The committee officially dissolved on June 8, having previously turned the remaining books in its possession over to the Alberton Museum.
A seven-member committee chaired by Margaret Adams started working on Volume I of Goin’ to the Corner, the History of Elmsdale, Elmsdale West and Brockton, The Community, in 2003. The 624-page book was launched in July, 2006 and received a Heritage Award in 2007.
The following year a 10-member committee, chaired by Norma McLellan started researching Volume II, The People. They gathered so much information that Volume II needed two books, totaling 1,643 pages plus 89 pages of index to get it all out. Volume II was launched in 2010. Since then there have been three updates produced, totaling 486 pages, which are available in digital format free of charge by contacting John Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There were seven area residents on the committee for the first volume, Margaret Adams, Norma McLellan, Lillian Adams, Arlene Morrison, Kay Williams, Jean O’Brien and Allan Graham. All seven were on the committee that researched Volume II, and they were joined by John Wilson, George Sanborn and Judy Cotton.
“The communities of Elmsdale, Elmsdale West and Brockton, they are the most documented communities on P.E.I.,” declared Graham. “There’s more in print on them than on any other.”
All 1,100 copies of Volume I have been sold and only 130 copies of Volume II are still available at a discounted price of $20 for Parts 1 and 2. Those can be purchased at the Alberton Museum, Alberton Pharmacare and Elmsdale Corner Gas with all proceeds going to the museum.
In writing Volume II, the committee researched 883 families that had roots in the three small communities. That resulted in phone calls across Canada and the United States, requiring some committee members to get North American long-distance packages added to their phones
“That boggles my mind,” said Morrison in considering the number of people the publications contacted and wrote about.
She marveled, also at how approachable everyone was. Just the mention of calling from Prince Edward Island was often enough to engage the ones on the other end of the line in conversation.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do next winter,” said Morrison, demonstrating the many years of commitment committee members put into the project. She said she just knows she will continue to track information about the communities as it happens.
Committee members, despite the almost crushing amount of information they uncovered, said the many years of involvement in the community history project was enriching and enjoyable.
“I didn’t know what I was getting into, but it was fun,” remarked Margaret Adams. They met sometimes two or three a week and, on occasion, meetings went until 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning.
“I think we did a fantastic job,” said McLellan, clearly pleased with the results.
And the results are always going to be “out there” said Morrison. Committee members confirmed they refer to the books often for information on the featured communities
For the second book, meetings started in the morning and sometimes went until early evening. They’d carpool for trips to the MacNaught Heritage Centre, Robertson Library or the Public archives to skim old newspapers and public records. They also interviewed some of the older members of the communities.
Besides the books and the updates, the museum is in possession of seven binders filled with copies of records obtained from Public archives. “That’s primary research; it’s important to save that,” Graham pointed out.