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Archives Awareness A-Z

Archives Awareness A-Z


We’re joining the Archives of Ontario in its #ArchivesAtoZ month-long campaign. The aim is to increase the public’s awareness of archives and their collections. We’ll be sharing four posts throughout this month showcasing items from our holdings or providing information about Archives terminology based on each letter of the alphabet.

This week we will cover N to S!


N – Notes

In 1936 the Rev. Canon R. W. Allen was appointed diocesan historiographer until 1956 when the Archives Committee was formed. In 1959 Canon Allen donated the various notes that he had put together about the churches in the Diocese. The most referenced of those notes by staff are his 37 volumes documenting the chronology and events of the Diocese of Toronto broken up by areas. Unfortunately, these were typed up on non-acid-free paper and are yellowing. We hope we might be able to work on digitizing these fabulous resources.

photo of shelves showing volumes of Canon Allen's notes transcript from Rev. Meyerhoffer's autobiography  transcript of Rev. Elliot's Journal


O – Oral Histories

In 1994 and 1998 the Archives Committee worked to gather oral histories from a few individuals from the Diocese of Toronto. The Archives holds cassette tapes of conversations with several individuals including the Rt. Rev. Allan Read, Suffragan Bishop from 1972-1981, and Ms. Margaret Banks, who began work at the Diocese as Secretary to the Diocesan Council for Social Service from 1958 to 1965. She returned in 1968 as secretary for the Church Extension Committee and was Bishop’s Secretary from 1972-1996!

Image of 3 cassette tapes with oral history interview with Bishop Read


P – Penmanship

The penmanship of a priest or lay person recording entries in a parish register or committee minute books can range from beautiful calligraphy to barely legible scrawls across the page. It is certainly much more enjoyable to conduct research into records where the penmanship is legible and neatly written!

     Image of messier handwritten minutes


Q – Queries

Assisting researchers is one of our favourite things to do! Every year, we answer an average of 600 queries & assist patrons both virtually and, as of May 3, 2022, in person by appointment as well. Our queries come primarily from genealogists, parishes and diocesan staff.


R – Registers

The Archives holds a large number of registers from our congregations, parishes and missions going back to the early 1800s. The oldest register we hold is the parish register for St. James Cathedral, with the earliest entry being the marriage of Jesse Bennett and Catharine Koover, both of the township of Vaughan, on Sept. 9, 1800.

image of earliest entry in parish register


S – Bishop Sweeny’s Diaries

So many bishops with a surname starting with S. You might think the obvious choice would be Bishop Strachan; however, the vast majority of his personal papers are on deposit with the Archives of Ontario. So instead today we will talk about Bishop Sweeny’s diaries. The Archives holds James Fielding Sweeny’s diaries from 1895, 1901-1919 and 1930, as well as his personal copy of Episcopal Acts 1909-1932. These diaries cover some of his time as rector at St. Philip, Spadina Ave., where he served from 1885-1909. In 1909 he was elected and consecrated the 4th Bishop of Toronto. The remainder of the diaries cover his time as bishop, although there is a gap between 1919 and 1930.

Front cover of Bp Sweeny's 1909 journal  Entry in journal for date elected Bishop  Entry in Diary for date consecrated Bishop 1909


Next week we will share Archives Awareness T-Z!