Genealogy group to occupy part of basement at library

Genealogy group to occupy part of basement at library
From left are Nicole White and Lilian Heagle of Généalogie et archives Saint-Laurent and Cornwall Public Library CEO Dawn Kiddell.

CORNWALL, Ontario – One day soon the basement at the Cornwall Public Library could be a one-stop shop for all things historic and archival.

Monday officials with the Généalogie et archives Saint-Laurent signed a lease agreement with the Cornwall Public Library, with the approval of city hall, that will allow for more than 15,000 documents and associated paraphernalia to move to its new home in the massive basement on Second Street West.

The basement at the library is huge, doubling as a fallout shelter during the Cold War and today houses some of the relics from the former Capitol Theatre in Cornwall.

But movers have been secured for early July to begin moving Généalogie et archives Saint-Laurent’s massive collection of archival material.

It will be stored in a small room in one section of the library basement while funding is secured to upgrade a much larger expanse on the lower level of the facility that could also one day to be home to other agencies and some of their pieces.

“Oh my god it’s a relief,” said Nicole White of genealogy centre. “Everything will be more central.”

The genealogy centre has been trying for months to secure a government grant to allow it to renovate the space, which is basically just a large empty room with concrete columns.

Trillium turned the centre down because it had not yet secured a long-term lease for the property.

That issue was settled Monday with the signing of the lease agreement, but it could still take several months for a grant applications to be approved.

“This is really big for cultural tourism,” said library CEO Dawn Kiddell, adding often tourists visit the library looking for material, but then have to go elsewhere to continue their research.

In February last year the library obtained a construction estimate and drawings to renovate a portion of the former emergency shelter area of the basement as required by funders. The project cost for renovations to house only genealogy centre material, roughly one-third of the intended space, was $280,444, according to a city hall report.

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