Creemore’s past now available into the future

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Creemore and area is fortunate to have many people dedicated to preserving its history.
Several local historians have gone to the effort of documenting early settlers, the infrastructure that drew commerce, the entrepreneurs and family histories that are the basis for the communities as we now know them now. The books include a combination of historical research and first hand accounts, and reminiscences. Now that the books are out of print and difficult to find for sale, two Creemore residents wanted to make sure that the content of the books were available for people far and wide. Barbara Mann and Paul Vorstermans went about seeking permission from the authors to digitize the books and post them online. The project was completed in partnership with Purple Hills Arts and Heritage Society (PHAHS), of which both Mann and Vorstermans have had a long time affiliation.
The digital collection includes A Glimpse of Creemore’s Past; About Dunedin by Larry and Kathy Halliday; and three books by Helen Blackburn: Has the Bell Rung Yet? A history of education in Creemore and Surrounding Area; Night Train to Creemore 18-72-1901; and The Bridges of Creemore Mills 1832-1871.
It also includes A Green and Pleasant Place published by PHAHS in 1998, and Charlotte Vorstermans is now working on transcribing a history of Avening, because it couldn’t be scanned. It too will be posted once it its complete.
They had both independently been thinking about the prospect of digitizing the books when they came together, with Vorstermans agreeing to do the scanning and Mann agreeing to do the post-scan editing.
Vorstermans said he had mentioned the idea to Blackburn years ago, and with her blessing, it was on his to-do list.
“At least this way, they will be out there again, and available,” he said.
Mann said she came to the idea because she was missing one of Blackburn’s books and was hoping to add it to her collection.
She said it was a great project to get done during a pandemic.
Mann said she read every word of the scanned books and although she had to tidy up the text, and sometimes go on the hunt for the odd missing paragraph, she has left the text true to the original publications.
“It was exciting,” she said. “I really enjoyed it.”
The project was completely voluntary with both Mann and Vorstermans dedicating hours and hours to the careful deconstruction of the physical copies (one of each book had to be sacrificed in order to run them through the scanner) and the reconstruction in the digital format.
The books are available for free download at phahs.ca/heritage.
The books are also available at the library, for reference only.

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