During a recent afternoon’s reception, several heritage activists, including Westmount’s Doreen Lindsay, joined friends and supporters as they raised a glass to help celebrate the CHQ’s (Canadian Heritage in Québec) new summer season. Aside from helping Continuité — Québec’s comprehensive heritage magazine – launch its summer issue, CHQ Executive Director Jacques Archambault described how the CHQ has finally managed to collate and organize its massive collection of historical archives into a coherent collection that will provide local historians with fresh empirical evidence about daily life in the 19th century. Based upon the late Hurtubise family’s own family archives, the extensive collection includes land deeds, birth certificates, passports, photos, and various tax receipts that helped define the city’s 19th century bureaucracy. While the archive will provide scholars with a detailed historical archive for generations, the late Dr. Hurtubise was also an avid amateur photographer who left over 300 glass plate negatives that will eventually provide historians with a detailed visual record that depicts Montreal’s 19th century.
“We have just begun to look at the plates,” said Archambault, “...and they’re beautiful.”
Although it’s been over four decades since the CHQ first bought the Hurtubise home in order to save it from the wrecker’s ball, the foundation’s history includes a lot of growing pains defined by big dreams and little or no money to do something about it. However, where there’s a will, CHQ heritage activists proved there’s a way as the foundation now owns and administers some 24 heritage properties throughout the province. While it’s still forced to deal with century – old buildings that require regular, extensive, and expensive maintenance, the new archives will propel the foundation away from the margins and straight into the heart of Québec’s extensive heritage community. Aside from building its new and comprehensive website, the foundation is also looking forward to cleaning up the Westmount property’s old stable in order to convert the building into a well-appointed mini-workshop for assorted heritage artisans, as well as a gallery space for future exhibitions.