Newspaper database project launched

By Vivian Collings

Soon there will be a way for everyone to access existing written history of Haliburton County.

The Haliburton County Newspaper Digitization Project committee has formed to take on digitizing boxes and boxes of newspaper publications as far back as 1860.

The demanding job will be completed in steps, beginning this fall.

“It’s ideal for people doing genealogy, it’s ideal for people doing personal history searches or if someone’s researching a certain project or organization,” said Ted Brandon, project coordinator. “And it’s just so important to preserve. All these papers live in boxes. If there were ever a fire, all that history would be gone.”

Just last week, he started cataloging one collection of publications.

“Initially, I’ve been identifying where all the various collections are held. This is the first day I’ve been opening boxes and listing the publications, how many pages they are, and making a note of the condition,” Brandon said, surrounded by stacks of yellowed newspapers last Tuesday at the Minden library.

Although a lengthy process, taking inventory will help the committee source funding to complete the digitization.

The committee is made up of members from U-Links, Trent University, local museums, the Haliburton County Public Library, and other historical organizations, with Barb Bolin as chair.

“There have been people in the community who have been talking about this project for about a year. A couple of them set out to find funding to do this first phase – from HCDC, the Rotary club, Canoe FM, and some private donors,” he said.

The committee is hoping the first phase will be completed by the end of 2023.

Phase two will be to acquire funding, determine where the archive will “live” online, and then carry out the digitizing of all papers.

“We also have to determine if this will be an in-house project, if we will buy the equipment ourselves, or if we’re going to subcontract it out,” Brandon said. “I’ve talked to some communities that have already done this, and it’s about 50/50. Half of them buy the equipment and do it themselves.”

He said if the equipment is purchased, it can also be used to document things like tax records, immigration records, death rolls, and property rolls.

Brandon said offering the county’s newspaper archive online will benefit both the community and individuals in it.

“Even on the first day of going through these, I found papers that my father was in, one where I was on the front page – it just gives you the ability to search the county’s history and even your own family’s. It’s amazing going through them and see other people you know, too,”  he said.

The archive will live on a searchable online database, instead of in basements or storage rooms.

He said unfortunately, collections have gone up in flames in the past, or papers were simply thrown away.

“There’s going to be lots of gaps in the early years, but once we get through the larger collections, we’re reaching out to the community to see if anyone has personal collections,” Brandon said.

The goal is for the Haliburton County Newspaper Digitization Project to be a “living” project after the initial push, adding all publications from local papers each year.

If you have a collection of pre-1980s papers, Brandon can be contacted: