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DAN CEARNS, The Standard
KAWARTHA LAKES: Through video and audio recordings, the Victoria County Historical Society (VCHS) was able to tell the stories of 74 local seniors in a recent project. The project, titled ‘Precious Memories’, began in 2019 and was inspired by a previous local project. “In 1977, the Lindsay Public Library sought to capture local history through audio-recorded interviews with sixteen local seniors. Inspired by this project, the Victoria County Historical Society (VCHS) hoped to continue this work through empowering local seniors and encouraging them to share their knowledge by recording their memories of this community for future generations,” read a post on the Olde Gaol museum website. Barbara Doyle from VCHS explained how this project was conducted and how it built on that 1977 project. “We just kind of took it to the next level, by providing opportunities in the community in round-table sessions and group sessions. But also, [by] going to people’s residences and homes and community areas, we were able to get about 100 seniors participating, but we recorded a few less than that,” she said. “It was really wonderful seeing people coming together and sharing their memories and their knowledge of the local area.” Project work was conducted between June 2019 and January 2020, and the recordings were released recently on YouTube. “Participants were all born between 1919 and 1955, and have roots in communities across the municipality. They come from all walks of life, and while some of their stories share similarities, they all reflect the cultural, social, and professional diversity of Kawartha Lakes,” read a VCHS press release. The press release also explained how the local community rallied to support this project. “Six seniors volunteered to sit on the project’s Advisory Committee. This committee met for the purpose of offering guidance and suggestions for every aspect of the project. Other members of the community volunteered to assist with the drafting of documents and providing refreshments for events. Local churches, retirement residences, and long-term care facilities offered meeting space; their members and residents volunteered to share memories,” the press release read. “VCHS project staff visited with seniors at their homes, in community spaces, at the Lindsay Central Exhibition, and at the Olde Gaol Museum in Lindsay. While many participants shared their recollections on a one-on-one basis, others enjoyed reminiscing with one another over refreshments in meeting rooms, church halls, and even a kitchen overlooking the countryside.” Ms. Doyle was not surprised by the large number of seniors who volunteered to take part in this project. “We have an amazing population here. Our community is wonderful in Kawartha Lakes. We had lots of people wanting to participate. We actually got to the point where we had to stop taking video because we had to get it produced,” she told The Standard. Ms. Doyle spoke about the importance of this project. “As everything goes more digital, and online it is much more easy to share information. Of [the seniors’] generation there’s a lot of written text, but not a lot of video of people currently sharing their memories. So we wanted to do an audio and video recording to let the personalities of the people shine through. We created 16 DVDs worth of content. We have it up on YouTube now, and we’ll also be providing a copy for the Kawartha Lakes Public Library system, so that people can check it out to be able to watch the 16 DVDs at home, if they don’t have access to computers. We’ll also be having an in-house exhibit here at [the Old Gaol Museum] once we’re back [and] reopened to the public.” To check out the videos and audio, go online to www.oldegaolmuseum.ca/preciousmemories or check out the Olde Gaol Museum’s YouTube page.