With a gentle hand, discerning eye and loads of patience, Jeanette Flesher, Beth-Anne Exham and Diane Morgan have dedicated several hours each week to helping preserve the rich heritage of Anglicans in Alberta. Guided by Diocese of Edmonton Archivist Kathryn Ivany, the team processes (prepares) historical records for the Anglican Church of Canada collection at the Provincial Archives of Alberta, located at 8555 Roper Rd NW in Edmonton.
“Your time and contributions are invaluable to us here at the archives,” said Jaclyn Landry, program and volunteer coordinator for the Provincial Archives of Alberta. “As a team you have great comradery.”
Archives’ staff and volunteers hosted a volunteer recognition tea on Tuesday, January 28. Also in attendance were members of the Edmonton diocese including Kathryn Ivany, Dr. Jane Samson, associate ecumenical and interfaith officer, and Margaret Glidden, communications director.
Landry expressed gratitude to Jeanette and Beth-Anne, both members of St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Edmonton, and Morgan, a member of St. Matthias, for their dedication. She noted that Jeanette who has had to step back from her role, and Beth-Anne who will continue to help as she is able, have achieved gold-level status at the archives, together amassing more than 3,000 hours of volunteer service since 2004.
Beth-Anne recalls being recruited to help Jeanette and Evelyn Capps in the archives, when they were still housed in the “old museum building” (Provincial Museum building in Glenora).
Diane also began volunteering in the archives when they were in the Provincial Museum building. She was working in the office at St. Peter’s and compiling short histories of the parishes when she was told “there are two ladies who sort all this out.” She has been an active volunteer since 2012.
Jeanette, a former school teacher with a natural curiosity about people, was particularly intrigued by records from the Athabasca diocese. “Their correspondence, written in the margins and both ways to economise space, paints a picture of what life was like. I found it quite fascinating,” she says.
Beth-Anne shares Jeanette’s affinity for the north, having served with her late-husband Kenah, an Anglican priest, in Old Crow in the Diocese of Yukon, from 1965 to 1969. She also has a special interest in the ACW collection.
“The work you have done has been amazing and the Synod really does appreciate it,” says Kathryn Ivany. “I know you spend hours removing staples, clips and coils to get the papers into the folders so that we can use them and researchers can access to them.”
“To be able to feel like I’m doing something worthwhile and to do it with good companions has been very satisfying,” says Jeanette.
Records covering roughly the northern two-thirds of the province from the Anglican Dioceses of Athabasca and Edmonton, including registers of baptisms, marriages and burials, are stored in vault #1, “God’s Vault,” as the ladies call it. The records can be searched online at https://provincialarchives.alberta.ca/ or by calling the Provincial Archives Reading Room: 780-427-1056.
Volunteers are needed to help care for Anglican Church records at the Provincial Archives. If you would like assist the diocesan archivist by processing records on site as they come into the collection, please send a letter of interest to Kathryn Ivany: email@example.com or call 780-903-7993 for more information.
Pictured from left are volunteer archivists Jeanette Flesher, Beth-Anne Exham and Diane Morgan