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President's Report 2023

10 a.m., SATURDAY, APRIL 1st, 2023

In his final President’s Report to the AGM last year, Peter White chose a quote from Sir Isaac Newton.  That reminded me of another quotation from Sir Isaac Newton, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”

Peter White left the BCHS on a solid foundation with very ambitious plans.  Your Board has built on that foundation and those plans.  Those plans demanded solid funding and an excellent staff.  Your Board has strengthened our financial position and recruited great staff.  The Museum was accredited in 2019.  That accreditation enabled us to apply for government funding through PAFIM (Programme pour l’aide au fonctionnement des institutions muséales) and we received that funding late in the year.  


To further develop our plans and provide better staffing, and thanks to the generous donation of one of our Board members, we were able to recruit our Executive Director, Denis Piquette.  As Executive Director, he is responsible for managing the Museum and the Archives, and a permanent staff of four.  Denis will develop further our vision and strategy, fundraise, be a spokesperson and advocate on behalf of the Museum and Archives, develop our marketing, expand visitor traffic and membership, and further develop our digital capabilities.  We will be the best community museum and archives in Quebec.


The Museum has had a great year as it emerged from the pandemic and began to see the return of visitors.  Slowly at first, but by mid-year we were exceeding previous totals: May saw 289 visitors, in July 1,030 and in August 1,252.  Part of the increase was tour groups who brought in more than 500 visitors. 


The Museum’s temporary exhibition for the year, the Abenaki exhibition, was our first fully Indigenous exhibition.  It was developed by our curator, Rachel Lambie, in collaboration with the Musée des Abénakis, and merges artifacts from the collections of both museums with work by renowned Abénaki artist Christine Sioui-Wawanoloath.  The mix of historic artifacts and contemporary work serves to remind us that this is not just history but part of a living community of today.


We had more in-person events, which had been sorely missed by our members: the Gala, the Bring and Bid, the Bake Sale, and the Christmas Cinq à Sept.  We were able to hold the much-loved Jimmy Manson lectures.  Plus, we began to see the value of the gift-shop which has been so well supported by Alison Marks, Marnie Blundell, Jane and Jack Walker, Sue Scott and Diana Henry.  With all of this we again began to see revenue coming, as opposed to the constant outflows in 2020 and 2021 with little to no off-setting revenue.   In those years we saw money flowing out and our monetary reserves dwindle; this last year we came close to breaking even. 


The Archives continue to be brought into order by our archivist Anne-Marie Charuest, ably supported by Nikolas Lamarre.  The relocation of the archives in the newly renovated vault is 90% complete – up from 52% at the beginning of 2022.  There are some seventy linear metres of documents in the vault of which twenty linear metres are public archives, mostly municipal documents.  In 2022 we received ten different donations of family archives, more than were given in 2020 and 2021 combined.


Nikolas Lamarre, who hopes to begin work on his doctorate later in 2023, has worked on the general inventory and classifying our book collection .  As a result, we now know we have more than 4,000 books, including more than 100 family bibles.  Nikolas has prepared a database that will be used to catalogue our collection in the future.


The archives portal includes more than 18,000 individual entries of archival descriptions of which 3,000 are completed and accessible to the public.  Translation, to comply with the accreditation of the Archives by the BAnQ, is a key work item; to date 7% of our entries are available in both English and French.


The Archives are a key resource from many families wishing to get a better understanding of their genealogy and get many enquiries during the year.  That resource has also resulted in some interesting partnerships in 2022.  Anne-Marie Charuest wrote a number of articles in La Voix de l’Est.  She also collaborated with Étienne Benoît of the Comité de sauvegarde du bassin versant du lac Davignon, about the Yamaska Sud-Est and the Westover brook; and in September began a partnership with the communication department of the Town of Brome Lake to put some interesting pictures of places in Lac-Brome, once a month, on their Facebook page.





The permanent staff of the Museum and Archives are a wonderful group of professionals.  The Curator, Rachel Lambie, has a master’s degree in Muséologie from the Université du Québec à Montréal.  Anne-Marie Charuest, the Archivist, has a Maîtrise en sciences historiques – spécialisation archivistique from the Laval University of Laval.  We are fortunate to have the services of Arlene Royea, the Managing Director, who has been with the Museum now for some 45 years; she is a constant source of critical information for all of us.  Equally, we are very lucky to have Lisa Belanger who, as the first person anyone who comes to the Museum will meet, seems to be always there, always available, and always supporting everything that happens at the Museum. 

As well as our permanent staff, we also employed an excellent group of summer students in 2021, and we thank them for their diligence:

               Elizabeth Osborne O'Donnell - Visitor Services

               Thomas O'Donnell - Visitor Services

               Hannah Osborne O'Donnell - Museum short contract


Our Board of Directors has done sterling work through the past year.  They are: John Bennett, Samanth a Ciurlej, Adèle Hébert, Annie Jolicoeur, Abbey Lacroix, Allan Mass, Gail Mullins, Helgi Soutar, Sid Yousri, Elizabeth Wirth and Peter White.  Unfortunately, Romina Fontana resigned in January of this year for personal reasons; we were very sorry to lose her as she brought critical marketing skills to the Board.  I thank them all for their work and support.



Adèle Hébert, Vice-President, continued her sterling work in gaining some very important and significant donations enabling us to continue to provide service to members and the wider public.


With Covid-19 still lingering and inflicting negative publicity on just about everything, we were still able to hold our annual Gala Night at the Museum and Adopt an Artefact, a very successful in-person Bring and Bid, and the annual Bake Sale, all of which helped in raising much needed funds.


We were very successful in writing a number of our grant applications including the PAFIM grant.  PAFIM, le programme Aide au fonctionnement pour les institutions muséales, is only given to museums accredited by the Government of Quebec and is only offered every third year for a period of three years.  It took a lot of work and a lot of patience by the staff and one of our directors, Abbey Lacroix, to ensure our success in making the application.  But the grant, like all grants from the government, comes with significant obligations, specific areas of expenditure, and specific measures to demonstrate back to the government that we have been successful in our expenditures over the period of the grant.  [Anne-Marie Charuest “BAnQ granted us $52,000 this year, an important increase compared to 2021. The grant was given to us as we are an accredited private archives centre.”]

In addition to provincial and federal government grants, the Town of Brome Lake continues to support the BCHS in a number of ways, including a very important annual grant.  As always, we are extremely grateful to the Town of Brome Lake for their support.


To our members I extend a very warm thank-you to all who have given donations through the year, and to those who have also given of their time to make this a successful year.



We are one of the few organizations which is both accredited by the BAnQ (Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec) for the Archives, and by the MCC (ministère de la Culture and des Communications) for the Museum. 

The PAFIM grant has put us in a prominent position amongst Quebec museums and enables us to look confidently to the future.  We are not the same organization we were ten years ago, or even three years ago.  With a permanent staff of five, growing to seven over the next few months, and a further temporary staff of three, we are important institution in the Town and recognized as a significant museum by all three levels of government.  Governments have given us money because they recognize our ambition for the future.  Our challenge now is to live up to this new standard.


The Home Children Exhibition, to be opened on 20th May by the British Consul General, will be a major event for us.  Not only will there be the exhibit itself, but we are also in partnership with the Film Festival and the Theatre to offer films on these children brought to Quebec and Canada in the last 150 years.   We will be presenting the play by Laura Teasdale, “The Home Children”. 


Let me close by thanking you all for your support through my first year as President.  It is you that makes the Brome County Historical Society successful.


Alan Eastley

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