President’s Holiday Message

It’s rainy and grey outside my window today. The snow has been and gone, but I hope that it’s coming back. It just doesn’t seem festive if there’s no snow glistening rooftops during the yuletide.

However you feel about the weather during the festive season and however you chose to celebrate, I hope that you have a chance to experience peace with those you love and who love you. The board of the Paris Museum and Historical Society want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May the beauty of the season find its way into your heart and give purpose to all that you do.

This has been the usual busy year for us at PMHS. When I try to think about all the projects that we’ve worked on in the last 12 months, my mind is a jumble of tasks big and small. Some with an end in sight, and some that can never, by their nature, be finished.

Our devoted volunteers have organized, catalogued, researched, created, explained, fund-raised, donated, welcomed, tidied, fixed, and discovered. And they have done these things and many more, over and over again, with heart, humour and humanity. Of course, no human endeavour is without conflict but somehow or other we manage to embrace the problems, wind our way through the issues, and get on with the job. I am so proud of us for this. No organization could continue for as long as we have (since 1972) without doing most things right (or at least well enough).

One of our biggest challenges looming on the horizon is that we may have to relocate perhaps sooner than we thought. As most of you may know by now, the County of Brant Library system has chosen the Syl Apps Community Centre site for their new main branch. As far as I know, the County has not made any decisions at this time and no timelines have been established for doing so. But the possibility that they may be looking at the redevelopment of the building that we call home has increased. And so the board is beginning to grapple with the task of trying to establish a new future home for the organization. This will be a very large and complex job, and that’s not even considering the execution of a major move.

As daunting as this is, it also presents us with the perfect opportunity to find a permanent home for PMHS. Communities need museums. They need archives. And they need historical societies. And our community needs a lasting home for these things to be secure.

The County’s heritage organizations are the keepers and nurturers of our communities’ collective memory. We can tell you about and share pictures of the people who lived, worked and played here. We can show you how your community has changed over time. We can also help you see what has endured and is enduring here.

In this fast paced world, it is easy to forget the past, and through its neglect, lose its lessons. Many of you may know the lyric to the song Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell (my age is showing here). It goes, “they paved paradise to put up a parking lot”. Well, there’s little PMHS can do about new parking lots, and many would say that more are needed. But we can tell you the stories that live beneath the parking lot.

With the challenge of finding a new home coming towards us, now, more than ever, PMHS needs you. Nothing is accomplished without the passion of volunteers who give so generously of their time and money so that Paris’s heritage may be preserved and understood by future generations.

We look forward to seeing you at our Annual General Meeting in February.

Cate Breaugh
Paris Museum and Historical Society