The year 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of The Presbyterian Church in Canada Archives as a formal facility for the denomination. We are honouring this milestone with a slideshow of photos highlighting the different locations and stages of the Archives, while including many of the folks who have contributed to this amazing journey.
We have not stood still! Rather, we have had three addresses over these intervening years. To date, we have moved the archival collections twice! The Presbyterian Archives was officially opened in June 1973 in the basement of Knox College in downtown Toronto. The Church had approved National Development Funds for the creation of a climate-controlled facility. At that time Professor Dr. John S. Moir served as the Archivist. He was ably assisted by the following minister/church historians: Rev. Dr. John Johnston, Rev. Dr. Melville Bailey, and Rev. Dr. Fred Rennie. Dr. Bailey served as Archivist (Emeritus) from 1980-1992. Kim Arnold joined the staff in September 1980 as Assistant Archivist and with national office re-structuring became Archivist/Records Administrator in 1993. Loren Fantin served as Assistant Archivist from 1993-1995.
The year 1995 saw our first move to 11 Soho Street, an office building off of Queen St. W. in Toronto. This move happened as a result of the need for an improved space, but it was always viewed as a temporary space while church management decided upon a new permanent location for the growing Archives. The parking garage at the national office at 50 Wynford was selected. With amazing architectural design by Black & Moffat, and a talented careful construction team, you can see how the space was transformed into our new home.
April 1998 saw the opening ceremony for the purpose-designed archival facility we currently occupy. The Moderator, The Rev. Dr. John Congram, officiated. A crowd numbering over 100 people – colleagues, friends, and family – were invited to take part in the celebration. The award-winning Archives facility is a beautiful fully climate-controlled space that includes a welcoming reading room, office space, a processing room for cataloguing and sorting, a stack area for the records, as well as an adjacent Records Centre for the more modern national office records. Bob Anger joined the staff in 1998 as Assistant Archivist. He very ably served the church with enthusiasm and dedication until 2020 when he made a move out of the city. We were very pleased to welcome Nicole D’Angela in October 2021 as the Assistant Archivist.
Throughout these years we have also been blessed with a number of dedicated and skilled contract archivists and volunteers: Julia Holland, Nancy Hurn, Elspeth Reid, Dawn Arnold-Verdin, Sarah Wallace, Diana Kendall, Margaret Waterman, Colin Cummings, Tom Allen, Donna Murphy, Roy Arnold, Betty Arnold and the Rev. Dr. Bob Anderson…just to name a few. As well, over 40 students have participated in contract work or practicum experiences in these Archives, all in preparation for their graduate studies degrees in Information Management. Most of these students are now practicing archivists in Canada and beyond.
As we look to the future, more changes are coming! The Archives are planning for a shared multi-denominational archival space in the new location of the national offices for the Presbyterian Church, Anglican Church, and United Church located at 300 Bloor St. West, in downtown Toronto. We continue acquiring, appraising, organizing, cataloguing, promoting, and sharing the historically significant records of The Presbyterian Church in Canada.