During a Christmas party for volunteers, the PMHS celebrated its 35th anniversary. Bob Hasler
, the chair at that time, presented the following history of the Society:
"As I understand it, the society was started due to the threat of Regional Government possibly removing the Paris Public Library's historical collection to Brantford. The Board of the Paris Library decided to sell their collection to a group of board members who would form the Paris Museum and Historical Society [PMHS] and purchase the collection for $1.00. The Society started in November 1972 and its official date was December 11,1972 and launched at Fred Bemrose's home. The first Executive was: chairman: Donald A. Smith
; Secretary-Treasurer: Jack Pickell
; Curator: Fred Bemrose. The Board members were: Mayor M. H. Sharpe
, Tom Larlee, Jim Rowley, Gordon Boultbee, Jackie Remus
, Muriel Pickell
, and Isobel Smith
A room in the basement of the library was allocated for the PMHS to exhibit artifacts to the public. The first major project was a float in the "Thanks A Hundred" parade in Brantford on July 7,1974 (Graham Bell celebrations). In February 1977 the Society exhibited 100 photographs reproduced by D.A. Smith and Bill Brown. In February 1978 the Board decided to open up the Society to new members by selling memberships at $2.00 each.
In 1985 storage was given at the PUC building for the Society's artifacts. Our first Constitution was in-acted on March 20,1986 and in September, 1986 memberships were raised to $5.00. The society was incorporated on December 6,1986 and membership was 44. Membership for 1990 was 55 plus 4 life members. Also in 1990, the Society started using the Council Chambers display cases as a museum area. In September 1991, the Board decided to erect a cairn to commemorate the building of the Governor's Road in 1794. It was built at a cost of $38,319.86 and dedicated July 1,1998. In 1995, membership was 64.
At the November 13,1996 Board meeting Bob Hasler was a guest talking about his research on the Paris Junction and asking for the Society's help. In 1997 the Town of Paris donated the portraits of Hiram and Mary Capron to the Society and in the same year, artifacts and a bequest was received from the estate of John Henry Cox. The first saved newsletter in our minute books was distributed by Mary Cassar on February 3, 1998.
During the 1990's Bob Hasler was volunteering at the "Local History Room" at the Paris Library, helping to organize the collection. Bob suggested the PMHS should consider having an office at the Paris Library to store photographs and documents, which were being damaged in the PUC storage due to mould and dampness. In November 1998, the Library Board approved for the Society to have office space in the Paris Library. By 1999 there were 60 paid up members.
The Society, over the years, had certain projects in which it was involved each year. There was the Antique Show and Sale held by the Paris District High School, Springtime in Paris, Steam Show and the Legion Remembrance Day displays.
At the October 1999 Board Meeting, Fred Bemrose retired as Curator and it was decided that 3 Curators should look after the collection. The candidates were: Fred Hopper; Bill Brown; and Bob Hasler. In February 200 a Collections Management Policy was created along with a master Gift Form and Curator's Work Sheet. (Modified versions are still used today). April 2000, saw the first meeting of the "Archive Volunteers" which was held at the Library's "Local History Room". Those present were: Bob Hasler; Bill Brown; Helen McKenzie; Marion Cabak; Rev. Bob Schroeder; Jackie Remus; and Chuck Birley. Other volunteers came on board over the next few months: Pat Hasler-Watts; Marg Deans; Jim Johnson; Roger Sharpe and others. From this group, we went on to form a Museums Committee to do cataloguing, displays and other public projects.
By July 2000, a new format was put into use for the PMHS Newsletters, "Heritage Paris", and in September of the same year Helen McKenzie became curator for fine art. On November 27,2000, Jim Johnson became our 3rd curator looking after photographs and Wayne Wilkinson began volunteering at the "Local History Room".
On January 28,2001 Marie Williamson became our Secretary/Treasurer and still is. Also in 2001, the PMHS Board signed an agreement between the Library Board and PMHS to have and operate the "Local History Room" and take ownership of the Library's historical collection on May 9 and formalized it May 22,2001. Before this time we used the space, but had no formal agreement. October 9,2001 the PUC asked the PMHS to start looking for new storage space.
AGM Life Memberships were given to Fred Bemrose and Jackie Remus at the January 27,2002. Also, we received the Cynthia and Andrew Baird paintings, and "Snap Shots 2000" photo project from LACAC. In February 2002, Virginia Bowling became one of our curators. She became Curator for paper and general artifacts joining Marg Deans Coordinator of Archives, Helen McKenzie, Curator for fine arts, Jim Johnson, Curator for photographs, and Ken Sinclair Assistant Curator. Summer of 2002 brought us our Charitable Donation Number as well as our first summer student, Catherine Gerow. October 2002 we found our new storage site at Unit #6,48 Woodslee Ave, Paris, and in December we had a horse drawn wagon ride and potluck dinner a Marg Dean's.
September 2003, the Board agreed to purchase a used Microfilm reader/copier for $6,504, and in October Jackie Remus, a longtime and devoted member of the Board, passed away.
February 2004, the Board approved the setting up of a web-page, and hi May the Library Board asked us to start searching for a new accommodation for the Archives. Our year long search began for a new and bigger space. We looked at several locations including additional space at 48 Woodslee and at the G. K. York development on West River Street, the old Penman's #1 Mill. In June, the Society hosted the "John Bemrose Lunch" at the Paris Golf Club, while in October the Library gave us until December 31,2005 to move. In 2004 our financial budget was: $36,594.97 and our actual costs were Expenses: $33,039.31 and Revenues: $34,240.62.
On July 1,2005 our lease started for 17 Curtis Avenue North. The County of Brant gave us a moving grant that helped defray the moving and basic setup costs for our relocation of thousands of artifacts. During 2005, we were able to accomplish much more with our new facilities and equipment. We produced our first calendars. Virginia Dowling represented us for the first time at the BIA "Pumpkin Crawl". Krystal Rycroft was our summer student and we had our Grand Opening on November 5.
The 2006 Budget was $49,900 and our Expenses were; $45,279.52 with Revenue: $48,431.98. That year Fred Hopper started working on his Penman's Book Project; we rhad training sessions for volunteers; Wayne Wilkinson organized our first "Antiques Appraisal Day"; Krystal Rycroft and Ryan Pike were our summer students; we worked on a project with researchers from the CBC about Percy James and Vimy Ridge which was broadcast in April 2007. Also we had a "Mystery Objects" contest, organized by Wayne Wilkinson in 22 downtown stores. November 15 the Board hired Lana Jobe as part-tune Staff/Curator effective December 1,2006 to staff the Museum and Archives Tuesday to Friday, 1-5 p.m. Not only has she performed her duties above and beyond expectations, but she has volunteered as many hours again!
Our 2007 budget was $55,950 and as yet we don't know our actual costs. At the beginning of 2007, we took on the large project of copying the Town of Paris Land Registry Index Books loaned to us for copying by the Brant Museum and Archives. This project is still ongoing with the copying of all the Annexed areas of the Town. Hiram Capron Day was celebrated and is still going on thanks to Mary Cassar's outstanding efforts over the years. (Mary thinks she started it in the early 1990's). Wayne Wilkinson created the new logo for the Society and a colouring book about Paris. We used the new logo on shirts and caps as a fund raising project.
Also in 2007, we started working on a Strategic Plan for the Society, and on April 20 the Board decided to purchase the MS 300 Canon microfilm reader/scanner for $10,942.47 which is now paid for. We assisted the "Beaver" magazine on an article about Paris and it was published in September. (There is a copy in the museum if you missed it). Ryan Pike returned as our summer student. From the County of Brant we received a grant of $32,500. In June the Board approved adding "Director's Insurance" to our insurance policy.
At the Board meeting of September 19,2007 the Board increased Lana's (our Curator) hours to include all day Monday to give her some time to work on the collections. The Board also approved new written "Policies and Procedures" for the Society. Another change was to hire an independent cleaning contractor to maintain our site, effective November 10,2007 and the company is doing an excellent job.
"I would be remiss if I did not mention the outstanding Boards that have created and maintained this Society for 35 years. Many people have come and gone. I am sure Fred (Bemrose) and Ken (Sinclair) will remember many who have served and passed on."
Presidents: D.A. Smith - December 1972 to January 1986; Foster Scott - January 1986 to January 1989; Larry McCandles - January 1989 to January 2002; Bob Hasler - January 2002 to January 2004; Marg Deans - January 2004 to January 2006; Bob Hasler - January 2006 to 2010; Rick Courtemanche - 2010 to present.
"I can personally say that the Board we have this year has been the best one I have sat on and chaired. I would like the Board members to come forward when I call your names: Executive: Wayne Wilkinson: Vice Chair; Marie Williamson: Secretary/Treasurer; Directors: Pat Hasler-Watts: Recording Secretary; Ken Sinclair (Life Member and longest volunteer 14 years ); Ernie Misner; Pat Moore; Marg Clark; Lyn Bilton; Dale Robb; Diane Baltaz."
The current membership is 111.
The native collection we received over a year ago has been in the hands of a professional archaeological company in Toronto being identified, catalogued, photographed etc. on a pro bono basis. We were informed a few days ago that it will be back in our hands in January with a presentation by the company. They are pleased that they were asked to handle this project for us. Other recent collections we have received were the William Southern Boer War foot locker and contents; Frank Remus' foot locker from WWII, with many military photographs and J. D. Adams and Wabco company photographs; and a foot locker from the estate of Howard Travers. We have been told that we will be receiving a substantial collection from the estate of Lloyd Brooks including his "caterpillar" pin he received because he had to jump out of his aircraft during WWII, when it had been shot down. We have had nearly 300 donors this year alone.
"I am looking forward to 2008. We are planning on having this summer walking tours in the Upper Town in conjunction with a Tea Room at Wolverton House. The owners, Judi and Rick have offered the use of their home as a fund raiser for the Society. Times etc. are still to be worked out. We are also looking at Bus Tours and how we will work with those groups. Another project that will be starting in the Spring is a co-operative project to replace the three flag poles at the cenotaph. There will be more info to come about that in the near future. There is much more I could have mentioned, but I picked out what I thought would be of interest to you."