North Grenville outlines plans for former College’s historical artifacts

A 2009 Google Street View image of the former Kemptville Campus, now owned by the Municipality of North Grenville. ©Google

Plans to display artifacts on former campus now owned by municipality

NORTH GRENVILLE — Acknowledging “considerable” public interest about the status of historical artifacts housed at the former Kemptville College campus, the property’s new owner — the Municipality of North Grenville — is outlining plans for the display and preservation of these items.

Prior to being acquired by North Grenville, the Campus was under the ownership of the Agricultural Institute of Ontario (ARIO), which provided a location to store and
maintain the artifacts.

In a press release issued yesterday, the municipality expresses appreciation to ARIO for  “efforts taken … in facilitating the matter of ownership over Kemptville College historical artifacts.” It also thanks the  Kemptville College Alumni Association “for collecting the campus historical artifacts and for coordinating their storage for safe-keeping as per their original agreement.”

Both sides agree that North Grenville got the artifacts when it purchased the property, according to the municipality.

Artifacts currently owned by the municipality fall into two broad categories:  those collected from across the campus and stored for safekeeping and subsequently determined to be the property of the campus; and items that were collected from across the campus and stored for safekeeping, and where definitive ownership has not been determined. Those items “remain in the possession of the municipality and are located at the Campus.”

The municipality’s consultation with an Archive Conservationist “strongly supported a plan that would see Campus artifacts remain on-site and be displayed
for the benefit of the greater community, as they represent a significant contribution to North Grenville’s history.”

North Grenville also says it does not claim ownership over a third category of items — those artifacts that were in the possession of the Alumni Association prior to the collection and coordination of the Campus historical artifacts — nor does it plan to.

Based on the advice of school staff and administration, North Grenville plans to showcase artifacts, on site at the campus. With a series of planned mini galleries, they will tell the story of the school — closed by the University of Guelph with the support of the Wynne government — drawing upon the narrative of Phyllis Dutchak’s book, A College with a Purpose.

The involved spaces include publicly accessible buildings like the Learning Resource Centre, cafeteria, Bell Hall, W.B. George Centre and Parish Hall.

The municipality foresees three planning phases, followed by artifact installation in a fourth phase. In the first phase all items are to be catalogued, described and photographed. This work is already in-progress and will soon be completed.

In the second phase, the items specifically associated with the telling of the story will be identified which will most likely generate a reduction in the number of artifacts
for display. A survey of the gallery spaces will be conducted to identify display needs in terms of furniture, cabinetry, lighting, interpretive panels and security

In phase three, each item on the shorter list of artifacts will be assessed by an archivist or conservationist to determine the condition of the item. The condition
assessment will provide information on the restoration processes necessary ranging from none required to requiring significant restoration to ensure preservation.

The final phase, will involve preparing the artifacts for display and creating the narrative/historical interpretation, with possible consideration for online
archival display.

The municipality also says it is in the process of finalizing a “Material Cultural Heritage Accession/De-accession Policy” that will determine the cultural
heritage value of all artifacts and memorabilia — insisting that process must be finished before any item is released by the municipality.

Once the initial phase is complete, the municipality expects there will be leftover artifacts and says it will consider donating those to the Alumni Association.

The municipality says it will also provide a copy of the catalogue of artifacts to the Association, once complete, “for reference, review and further discussion.” There’s a possibility the Association could have reproductions made of the Campus artifacts that are otherwise destined to stay part of the official collection.

“The municipality will continue to stand by previous offers made to the Alumni Association to collaborate for the display of campus artifacts on-site and will be amenable to re-opening those discussions,” North Grenville concludes. “Failing this, the municipality is confident that their plan will support approaches for preservation and display that both the municipality and the Alumni Association are undertaking.”

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