Who we are
As its mission, the Héritage Sutton historical society seeks to preserve the history of the Sutton area as well as of the persons and families who have written it. It manages collections and archives, publishes booklets, offers educational activities and contributes to exhibitions presented by the Musée d’histoire et des communications de Sutton.
Héritage Sutton is incorporated as a non-profit organization administered by its volunteer members. The Board of Directors is comprised of: Jeanne Morazain, President; Carole Kierulf, Treasurer, Louise Harpin, Secretary; and Winston Bresee, Alexandrine Poissant, Paul Kinnis, and Gilles Gauthier, Directors.
All the activities, including research, indexation, digitization and editing are performed on a volunteer basis.
There are many ways to help Héritage Sutton fulfill its mission :
Reports presented by Jeanne Morazain, President
The least we can say about 2020 is that the year was marked by constant upheaval; it presented many challenges for Héritage Sutton in determining how to fulfil our mission of preserving and highlighting Sutton’s history. That said, progress was made on several fronts.
Archiving and conserving
Héritage Sutton hired a professional to organize its visual data bank, which is composed of individual fonds and various collections of scanned documents. Many items were added or better described, duplicates were eliminated and the process of using key words to find materials was improved.
Additionally, thanks to a student’s work during the summer, progress was made with data entry for the documents bank. Don’t forget that it’s possible to use our web site (https://heritagesutton.ca/en/our-archives/documents-bank/) to obtain the list of documents related to a subject.
The computerized inventory of graves at 10 burial sites in the former Canton of Sutton still has to be put online.
La parole des aînés (Seniors' Oral History)
Héritage Sutton successfully completed a seniors’ oral history project funded by a two-year, $106,000 grant from the Québec ami des aînés (QADA). The Fonds d’histoire orale that now forms part of our collection is composed of about 150 digitized and transcribed audio and video interviews. These fonds preserve the life experiences and know-how of Sutton’s seniors and provide valuable research on various themes, notably the history of the Filtex plant, life near the border and life on the farm, etc…
Elements of this project that were designed to highlight our oral history resulted in several initiatives:
- The history of the Filtex plant is told on the Héritage Sutton web site in a virtual file that combines texts, photos and video clips.
- The life stories of some of these seniors are recounted in articles printed in the history sketchbooks that Héritage Sutton publishes twice each year: war brides Violet Jones and Helena Lengacher (sketchbook 31-Spring 2020), Jean Gilbert Naylor (sketchbook 31) and Shirley Beaulac (sketchbook 33-Autumn 2020). N.B. The two articles about the war brides were reprinted by Histoire Québec magazine in its latest issue (volume 26), devoted to pioneer women.
- The seniors talked a great deal about their childhoods and their early years in school or convent. An intergenerational exchange involving young students from today took place with some of the seniors at the end of February 2020 at the school in Sutton.
- A new, virtual file is being prepared that shines the spotlight on nine of the children of Alfred Larouche and Éliane Bédard, who came to Sutton to farm in 1928. For the most part all the children still live in the area; they shared their family archives with us, including photos, correspondence and music recordings.
- Héritage Sutton loaned a series of Filtex plant artifacts and workers’ photos to artist Anne Billy for an exhibition she mounted on the theme of women textile workers. The showing was scheduled to take place at the Arts Sutton Gallery from February 18 to April 4, 2021.
- At Héritage Sutton’s request, Claude Hamel wrote a tale about farm life during the middle of the last century. His bilingual presentation, which was inspired by information provided by seniors, had to be postponed twice (in March and October of 2020) because of the pandemic.
- A public presentation was also being prepared on the theme of life near the border. It too, had to be postponed twice because of pandemic restrictions concerning public gatherings.
Testimonials about living better today and tomorrow
This new project, funded by the federal government’s New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP), was launched in 2020. It gives seniors a vehicle to (i) voice how they are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic and (ii) shake off their fears. The goal is to make the entire community aware of our seniors’ specific needs; draw lessons from their experiences and pass on that knowledge to future generations.
Videotaping sessions that had been planned for October and November 2020 were postponed. The participants would have included 20 or so seniors. Some were couples, others live on their own, and others work with community groups involved in the battle against the pandemic.
Year in and year out Héritage Sutton receives multiple requests for information requiring research that may or may not be billed. It’s worth noting that the benefits of Héritage Sutton membership include a free, one-hour information consult and a 50% reduction in the research fees after that.
The Town of Sutton also gave Héritage Sutton a twofold research mandate: to trace the history of who occupied various civic addresses; and to provide historical background for a detailed inventory of the town’s built heritage that was prepared by Patri-Arch. About twenty addresses were on the list in 2020, but the project has been postponed.
Research was carried out for the Town, however, regarding its Musée hors les murs project, which dealt mainly with skiing before the ski resort opened, details about the practice of various winter sports, such as hockey, early photographs and farming.
The summer and autumn history sketchbooks (Numbers 32 and 33, respectively) were published as planned, and work on Numbers 34 and 35 is underway.
Following a major revamping, the Héritage Sutton web site is more dynamic and easier to use in cross-checking data. Among other things the overhaul has enabled us to post virtual files online that include audio and video clips. A prime example is the file on the history of the Filtex plant.
The new site is also interactive and can be used for such things as registering or renewing memberships, purchasing publications (e.g. sketchbooks, reports, catalogues) and making donations.
Progress is also being made to use social networking tools more effectively (principally Facebook and Sutton Ami) to promote Héritage Sutton and publicize its activities.
Membership remains stable (about a hundred) and volunteer involvement is solid — both for individuals responsible for specific dossiers and others who can be called upon to handle ad hoc tasks. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot to report about rejuvenating the membership; efforts in this area are continuing.
Collecting, conserving and archiving
Héritage Sutton submitted a request to the Bibliothèque et archives nationales du Québec (BanQ) for an archival technician to create a detailed index of the Fonds d’histoire orale, a true gem of Héritage Sutton’s collections. A response is expected in the coming weeks.
All interviews for the Fonds d’Histoire orale have now been transcribed, although not all have been revised. Work is continuing. We hope to further enrich the Fonds d’histoire orale by adding a dozen additional interviews.
The project Témoigner pour mieux vivre aujourd’hui et demain, developed in partnership with the Sutton Junction community hall, will provide additional depth to this resource.The project has been postponed because of the pandemic, but the hope is that seniors’ recordings — or transcripts or summaries of their observations — will eventually be posted on our web site or made available on other forums.
Contributions to the archives have increased significantly in recent years, in large part because of individuals who agreed to provide testimonials for our different projects. The indexing of these individual fonds and the processing of bequeathed documents (filing, coding, archival protection) is ongoing.
Highlighting Héritage Sutton’s oral, visual and document archives remains a priority.
- The U.S. border is omnipresent in the history of the Canton of Sutton and the lives of its inhabitants. Preparations for a public presentation on the theme Vivre à la frontière (Living near the border) have been put on hold because of the pandemic.
- This theme can be relived on a larger scale through an online exhibit at the Virtual Museum of Canada (now called Digital Museums Canada). Héritage Sutton has submitted a request to the DMC for a grant to help fund our own research in this regard and a reply is expected by April 2021 at the latest.
- As soon as is possible, the bilingual storytelling event La vie à la ferme (Living on the farm), will be rescheduled.
The return of Mémoires en Fête (Celebrating Sutton's Past)
Needless to say, the 4th edition of the Mémoires en Fête scheduled for October 2020 never took place. We’re hoping that a revised version (one that is more interactive and has additional content) will be held in October 2021.
Multiple exhibits and activities designed to encourage discussion and exchange (particularly with young people) will) likely be set up in the Council Chamber at Sutton City Hall. We could, for example:
- display photo albums that may jog visitors’ memories, thus enabling Héritage Sutton to note and record information about people, places, dates and events, etc.);
- encourage seniors to answer the question: Raconte comment c’était ? (Tell Us How It Was?), either directly, in person, or through video recordings that explain how things were and how things were done in the past.
- suggest quizzes to guess how old-fashioned tools and toys were used (backed by demonstrations from seniors);
- give visitors a chance to have their photos taken in front of backgrounds or backdrops from the past;
- have volunteers present (i) to scan old photos that members of the public bring along and (ii) to work with these visitors to compile a brief description for each photo.
Héritage Sutton volunteers will be present at the event. They’ll ask about visitors’ reasons for coming and inquire about such things as their knowledge of Sutton’s history; their understanding of our organization’s purpose; their interest in what we do or in our publications; and how often they use our web site, etc.
It will also be an opportunity: to highlight our historical society’s many activities and their impact on Sutton; to solicit archival material; to identify individuals able to suggest the names of seniors likely to provide testimonials and/or show us their family albums; and to explain the specific and very varied volunteer tasks required to carry out our mission. These include historical and genealogical research, editing, translating, indexing, digital and document data entry, the web site, using social media, and administration and finance, etc.
Besides celebrating and enriching the collective memory of our seniors (the principal custodians of our heritage), Mémoires en Fête is designed to help recruit new members and stimulate volunteer participation. Each of the previous editions generated interest in our work and succeeded in getting people involved.
Built heritage continues to be an important field of research and we expect that the Town of Sutton will once again give us mandates to research and document addresses in our community. We renew our invitation to the Town and the CDES to think about ways to highlight the knowledge we have acquired about our built heritage.
Obviously we will also continue to respond to information requests forwarded by our members, the public and various organizations.
The results of research undertaken in response to requests, or because of interest expressed by our members, or as part of different projects, will continue to provide the basis for the publication each year of our two history sketchbooks.
Our web site now offers new possibilities and we intend to use it to the fullest to promote our activities; reach a wider—and younger—audience and disseminate historical information about Sutton and the neighboring region. One of the major ways of doing this will be to rely on the multimedia aspect of our virtual files. For example, new material should be added in 2021 concerning the Larouche family, the impacts of COVID-19 on Sutton and life near the border.
We will continue to promote our online boutique where visitors can: buy history sketchbooks, display boxes, directories, indexes or research reports; become a member or make a donation. In doing this we hope to reach younger age groups.
And a final, top priority is to increase our use of social networking to grow our presence online; we are still searching for someone to handle this dossier.