Preserve your Past!

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By Dave Hunter -

The following is a story, somewhat hypothetical, but based upon a true event...

Preserve Your Past!

Pull up a chair, and let me tell you a story: It is based upon a true event, though no names will be named.... It is about the importance of preserving your family heritage, and the collections of our parents and grandparents when they pass away.

Not terrible long ago, an elderly lady fell ill, and was not expected to live. This lady had been the keeper of old family records and papers going back to the early 1800's. These had been passed down from generation to generation through her ancestors, and were kept in her home.

Her children, not expecting her to live, started clearing out her house, preparing to sell it when she passed away. Out went box after box of old bibles, photos, records, diaries, newspaper articles and all manner of information, her family seeing them only as boxes of musty old papers. Out with them went two centuries of P.E.I. history, not just of their family, but of the whole community. Within hours, they were bulldozed into the local landfill site.

Well our lady fooled them, and recovered, but not before all was lost.

An isolated incident? No, it happens every day. We have lost our respect for the importance of history. Gone are the days where people sat on stools in the local general store trading news and stories of events of the past. Fading is the Island tradition of the oral presentation of History, though there are those who are trying to revive this tradition. Gone is so many people's love for the treasures left by their ancestors. They see it as clutter, getting in the way of the present and the immediate future.

Our ancestors saw fit to save this information, and so should we. If you have no interest in your family's past, please realize that there are those who do, and that those papers in your attic may contain information that is vital to preserving Prince Edward Island's most valuable resource, its rich history.

This is a plea. Please, save this information. Please allow it to be preserved, if not by yourself, please share it with others. Once lost, it is lost forever, and can never be recovered. Please don't let one more box of Island History wind up in landfill. Treat it as a recyclable and pass it along to others.

If you are a family historian, please place in your will or a codicil to your will your desires for the disposal of your work when you pass away. Perhaps you have a child who shares your interest. Ensure that he/she is named as the recipient. We cannot live forever, but we can go great lengths to ensure our labours are passed along to future generations.

If you are an elderly person, and are concerned about what to do with your old papers, books, and photos; or if a relative passes away, and you don't know what to do with their old papers, contact me, and I will take them to the archives, or please take them to the archives yourself. Or just email me giving me your phone number, and I will call you and arrange for them to be picked up at no cost to you, and at your convenience, either by myself, or another who shares my views, then to be placed in the archives or community collection or whatever resource is most appropriate.

If you are unsure what should be saved, and what should not, unsure whether it has historical signifigance, or if you are unsure of the best repository to preserve your legacy, we will help you decide, even if we have to go through every piece.

Please don't allow your bereavement to allow you to lose sight of the importance your family member, and past generations placed in this information.

As you can see from the Register, I am one of the many who treasure our Island's History, and truly believe that it is our most valuable resource, and that it should be preserved, and shared freely for all to benefit. I am not asking to enlarge my collection - everything will go to the Archives or to suitable Archival resources across the Island, where it will be preserved for all to see. Those of you who know me, know of my deep commitment towards saving our past, and ensuring that it is accessible by all, and you know I am a man of my word.

If you live on the Island and wish to assist in this project as a pickup contact, or otherwise, please contact me. We must go out of our way to make it easier for families to save this information for all, and must realize that this problem comes up at one of the most difficult times in people's lives, soon after the loss of a loved one.

Thank you one and all from the bottom of my heart.

Dave Hunter

Important Note: The PEIGS has decided to back up this effort by voting to cover the cost of photocopying family records to be placed into the Archives. If you have records you are afraid might be lost, but wish to retain the originals for now, contact the PEIGS at for further information on this project. PEIGS members will photocopy your records, and place the copies in the Archives, or any P.E.I. repository of your choice, then return the originals to you to ensure that at least photocopies will be available for future Generations! This allows another option for those of you who are concered about preserving your records and old documents. Photocopying will be done on the Archives premises by persons that are used to handling old documents, ensuring the safety of your originals.

Dave Hunter and The Island Register: HTML and Graphics© 2000, 2001

Last Updated: 03/19/2001 7:50:10 AM
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