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University of Guelph Library

Guelph's Scottish Collection is one of the finest in the world. Interest in building a Scottish and Scottish-Canadian collection began shortly after the creation of the History Department in 1965 when the University of Guelph was established. This initiative was soon taken up by other departments and led to the formation of an interdepartmental Committee on Scottish Studies, responsible for graduate programs at the master's and doctoral levels.

In addition to regular library funds spent on the development of resource materials in this field, faculty and the library have been fortunate in securing grants from private and government sources for the acquisition of Scottish items. There have also been a number of important and valuable donations. Some of these have been instigated by a dedicated and active group of graduate students who have managed to locate letters and documents relating to Scotland and Scottish settlement in this area. Others have been donated by friends of the library who value the importance of having a secure repository for these unique historical documents. The library is always interested in aquiring any material, such as old family letters, that may contain information on conditions in Scotland or Scottish pioneer life in Canada. Before 1990, the library also received Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council grants to expand its Scottish holdings.

Users of the collection should be advised that Scottish materials are located throughout the library depending on subject classification or form.

Here is an intro written by Colin Gibson, A Mercury Staff Writer....

The Scottish and Scottish-Canadian collection housed in the University of Guelph archives - and also spread throughout other floors of McLaughlin Library - is described as "one of the finest in the world and undoubtedly the best in North America."

It combines a Scottish and Scottish-Canadian wealth of material including regional history, that not only cuts a wide tartan swath through the fields of academia, but also through the fertile fields of human interest in historical matters.

Started in 1965 - coincident with the establishment of the university's history department - the Scottish collection was initiated as a special project under the guiding hand of the history department's first chairman, Stanford Reid.

The initial undertaking took on a life of its own and led to the establishment of an interdepartmental committee on Scottish studies, responsible for graduate programs at the masters and doctoral levels.

The city of Guelph's strong Scottish ties - from its founding to the present - has resulted in the accumulation of approximately 100,000 records including rare books, pamphlets, maps, journals and various and sundry other memorabilia.

Guelph was founded as a planned town in 1827 by John Galt, a Scottish novelist who was also a superindendent of the Canada Company.

The Canada Company, based in London, England, used the concept of planning communities in advance of general settlement in order to stimulate sales of agricultural lands.

It's recorded that Galt picked the name to honour Britain's royal family, the Hanoverians, who were descended from the Guelphs, one of the great political factions in medieval Germany and Italy.

Regional history comes alive in the Scottish-Canadian collection, concentrating on Wellington County.

The Guelph Allan-Higinbotham Papers manuscript series is joined by the Connon Collection of early photographs of Elora and the Gilkison-Fraser Collection.

Rare editions of the works of John Galt have found safe haven, to complement manuscript holdings such as the Lizars Collection consisting of correspondance, legal documents and the library of the pioneer family related to Galt by marriage.

The Goodwin-Hains Collection contains information on Upper Cabada, including early crown land grants, items relating to William Lyon Mackenzie and papers of Samuel Street, a Niagara settler.

Dedicated individuals have contributed to the excellence of the university's Scottish collection, none more so than the present chairman of the Scottish studies program, Professor Ted Cowan.

Cowan arrived at the Guelph university campus in 1979, after having spent 13 years teaching at the University of Edinburgh.

The lure of the Scottish collection played a big part in Cowan venturing overseas and his tireless work in promoting the Scottish studies program and the Scottish collection, through speaking engagements and other activities, has helped enormously in enhancing its reputation.

Another feather in the collection's cap was added in 1987 with the arrival of professor Catherine Kerrigan, an internationally recognized author and accepted expert on Scottish culture and literature.

Kerrigan has had five books published and her latest effort, An Anthology of Scottish Women Poets, has been nominated for the prestigious Saltre Award.

This award, issued annually, is presented to an outstanding literary contribution to Scottish culture. The Saltire Society was founded in Scotland in the 18th century to promote Scottish culture.

Kerrigan, who has presented papers in Germany, France, England, Ireland and the United States has been invited to Oxford University next year as a guest lecturer.

She was born in Glasgow and came to Canada in 1960. She did undergraduate work and received her Masters from the University of Toronto and went on to obtain her Phd from the University of Edinburgh.

Her interest in Scottish literature was piqued by the works of poet Hugh MacDiarmid, a strong Scottish nationalist whose initial works were written in distinct Scots - the language of the common man.

In concert with University of Guelph professor emeritus, Elizabeth Waterson (who along with professor Mary Rubio, coordinated the archives' L.M. Montgomery collection) Kerrigan is working to add to the Scottish collection's literature sections.

The Scottish collection provides books on Scottish history, genealogy, clan histories, travel, politics and economics as well as extensive holdings of Scottish historical and antiquarian society publications.

The rare book room houses a valuable Jacobite Collection - a series of pamphlets on the Disruption.

Scottish manuscripts include the Ewen-Grahame Papers (1723-1892), an Aberdeen Collection and the Campbell of Monzie Papers which contain the oldest piece in the manuscript collections, a document dated 1416.

The Foulis Press Collection, acquired in July of 1990, contains 330 titles, or fully 60 per cent of the total output of a printing publishing house that operated in Scotland from 1740 until exactly 1800.

An extension of the Scottish studies program, a student exchange opportunity, has been in effect with the University of Aberdeen for five years. Another student exchange program has been initiated with Strathclyde University in Glasgow.

So here is how you find the Scottish Collection office...

You go through the gates and then turn left along this corridor towards the exit sign at the end. I might add if you go straight on then when you get to the end of that corridor you turn right and that gets you to the coffee area :-)

As you go through this exit door you can see another exit door which you go through

You'll see the wee sign saying "Archival, Rare and Special Collections" and then you head down one flight of stairs

It does say "Basement" when you get there and then you turn left through this door

And then into the Wellington County Room and there you will see the friendly library staff that will guide you from there :-)

And here was the desk I used while I was here. They library staff looked out lots of reference material for me as you can see on the desk.  It was a great help and got me off to a flying start. Also the picture on the right shows the floor plan of the library

Here are a few pictures of the library to give you a wee introduction to it...

The staff at the library have prepared a welcome pack of material to help me get started and Lorne Bruce, Head, Archival and Special Collections University of Guelph Library, gives me a quick tour

First some of the Scottish collection

And then it's into the rare book and document collection

In the rare book and document department you enter through a locked plain white door. And as you will have seen above there are some remarkable finds to be found! On the right is the library office where they do all the cataloging and admin work

And then it's up to the third floor where you can find Scottish history and also a clan and family section

And it's amazing how many of the library staff are Scots or of Scots descent.
On the left is Darlene Wiltsie and on the right Ellen Morrison

I intend to profile the library collection in some depth during the next couple of weeks so this is just a wee taster of what is in store.

I might add that my wee introduction to the library seems to have had some benefits... got in an email from Keith Dewar...

Hi Alastair:
I was very excited to read your write-up about the Library at Guelph U. (Campbell of Monzie Papers) My ancestors had lived on this estate, believed to have been smithy's at Camserney. Donald Dewar (Deor) during the 1600's and 1700's. I have been looking for these papers and was at the castle last summer trying to trace them, but nobody knew where they were. Apparantly, everything at the castle was auctioned off about 1910, and boxes and boxes of these papers, were sold off for about a pound per box load. I plan to go up to the University next week, and try and trace my ancestors. I live near Niagara Falls, about an hours drive. 

And so great to know I've been of some help to someone :-)

I might also add that I had lunch with Lynn Campbell, Manager, Library Development and Public Relations and we hope to bring you a monthly news bulletin in the months ahead keeping you up to date with happenings at the library... and she took me to a great curry shop for lunch!  What a Gal ! :-)

And Lynn's paying the bill and her a Campbell at that [grin]

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