'Wonderful memories of the past': St. Peter's Cathedral completes archive project

The official opening of the St. Peter's Cathedral Archives took place in Charlottetown on Friday.

People were invited to see some of the exhibits and to take in the launching of the digital archives.

"There has been a lot of excitement around this project," said Rory Francis, a parish warden.

"We've knit it with other oral history from some of our parishioners as well, so it has given everyone a chance to think about some of their wonderful memories of the past."

St. Peter's Cathedral, which was founded in 1869, is also celebrating 150 years in the city.

The idea had been tossed around for about 15 years to do something with all the older materials.

'Wonderful collection of volunteers'

The official work on the archiving project began two years ago. A hall was created to house their collection. 

Volunteers spent a lot of time sorting, cataloguing and digitizing large amounts of the cathedral's archival material.

St. Peter's Cathedral Archives

The collection includes photos, letters, diaries, journals, service registers and other documents.

The parish was able to hire an archivist to oversee the work, thanks to $115,000 from Heritage Canada.

"We have a wonderful collection of volunteers who've worked on this for years before I got involved," said Laura Millar, the archival consultant from Roberts Creek, B.C.

Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC

She said it was terrific to have a team of enthusiastic volunteers to work on the project. They were digitizing select items as well to be hosted in an online database.

Millar said that the amount of materials the cathedral had helps show a memory of the people and the time, like the service registers.

"These books register every service held in the church from the beginning," Millar said. 

"But it doesn't just record the service, it has how many people were there, was the minister sick that day, what hymns were sung, what was the weather outside?"

Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC

Francis said they are hoping the information can be used to help bring people together through the shared memories of the past.

"While there is a lot of looking back to this because it is historical, it is also an opportunity for the cathedral to look ahead and make sure that the cathedral is doing its job, not just in terms of preserving history, but in terms of its mission in the community."

The project wrap coincided with the 150th anniversary of the parish.

Officials hope better access to this material will unite their congregation and help plan for the next 150 years.

Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC

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