Putting history in perspective and expanding the base of knowledge regarding historical events is not only UWindsor archivist Brian Owen’s calling, it is his passion.
“What we initially may see as possibly a worthless, brown, aged document, may actually have very important value,” says Dr. Owens. “It can really transform the way we think about things. That is what I feel is the most important part of my job as an archivist – being able to take the historical record, interpret it and sew it into other things we already know to make it an exciting document.”
Among the many collections stored and interpreted in the UWindsor archives is the Essex-Scottish Regiment Collection, which Owens began to assemble in 1995. He says its significance to the people and history of the Windsor-Essex County area is immeasurable.
“This collection represents the centre point of military involvement for people of this part of southwestern Ontario and it is a collection that dates back nearly 200 years,” Owens says. “We have a pay list of everyone who served in the War of 1812, defending this part of Ontario. It’s a fantastic document and has some local family names that many of us would recognize.”
Read on to learn about some of the documents in the collection and what they reveal about Canada's entry into World War II.