Meet the Archivist – Erin Walsh, Port Hope Archives

It is April and along with those April showers it also brings with it Archives Awareness Week.  We thought it was be interesting to once again learn more about our members and the various institutions that make up DRAAG!

TAP - E  Walsh P  B  Bolton 2011

Photo credit to Ted Amsden

Today we are going to learn more about Erin Walsh, Archivist at the Port Hope Archives. Erin Walsh has been the archivist at the Port Hope Archives since the fall of 2009.  She graduated from the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto that same year; and has worked in the heritage field for 8 years.

What do you do at the Port Hope Archives?

Because the Port Hope Archives is a stand-alone institution, I have to wear a lot of hats, but technically my title is “Archivist.”  I’m responsible for the well-being of the collection, accepting and processing donations, facilitating access to the collection (and other resources we have at the PHA), volunteer management, outreach and events, social media, office administration, and even maintaining the website!

Why did you choose this career?

It was while I was doing my undergrad degree at Trent University that I decided to become an archivist.

Originally, I had intended to become a high school Drama and History teacher, until I realized that everyone else doing a History degree was also going to be a teacher.  At that point I made an appointment with a career councillor at Trent, and she suggested I look into being a librarian/archivist.

I talked to a few people involved in the field, eventually I started volunteering at the Peterborough Museum and Archives, and fell in love!

What is your favourite part of your job?

I love my job!

Mostly because I get to do a little bit of something different every day.  I could never decide which aspect of archival studies I liked most, so I knew I wanted to work in a small archives where I could dabble in everything.

How did you get into the archival field?

While I was a student at Trent, I volunteered at the Peterborough Museum & Archives.  It was Mary Charles (the archivist there), who convinced me to pursue archival studies.

I enrolled in the Faculty of Information [Studies] at the University of Toronto; and in 2009, I graduated with a Master of Information Studies, with a focus on both librarianship and archives & records management.  That same year I started at the Port Hope Archives.

While I was in graduate school, I worked at the University College Archives (UofT), Clarington Museums and Archives, Oshawa Public Libraries, and did an internship at the Ontario Association of Art Galleries; all positions where I learned A LOT about archives and records management.

What is your favourite memory of the Archives?

My favourite memory of working at the Port Hope Archives occurred in late fall of 2012.  We had been in contact with a potential donor regarding some original land deeds, diaries, family history tapes, etc.; all part of this AMAZING family collection.*

When she came to donate the collection, she brought a bunch of relatives and had a mini family reunion at the archives.  It was such a lovely moment!  And highlighted all the wonderful reasons why I love being an archivist.

*The collection is the Goheen Family Collection (PHA# 2012.55) if you’re interested in more information!

Do you have a favourite artifact or collection?

I’ve been mulling over this question, because we have so many great items in our collection!  If I was forced to choose, I would say it’s a tie between:

  1. Thos. Ward’s Baptismal Certificate:

Thomas Ward was born in England to Thomas Sr. and Sarah, and was baptized in the Parish of St. Andrew, Holborn, on July 23rd 1770.  He immigrated to Canada in the early 19th century and settled in Hope Township.  When the War of 1812 began he volunteered and was stationed as a Captain patrolling the shoreline of Lake Ontario from York to Presqu’ile.  He appears in Hope Township in the 1851 Census of Canada West at the age of 82; and the 1861 Census of Upper Canada at the age of 91.  It is assumed that he died in 1861, sometime after the census was taken, when he was also buried in St. Mark’s Anglican Cemetery.

Thomas Ward, besides his distinguished service to the crown, has the honour of being the original owner of the oldest document in the Port Hope Archives’ collection.  The baptismal certificate dated 1788 gives a lot of crucial information about Thomas’ early years in England; it also out-ages all other documents in our collection, even pre-dating the settlement of Port Hope itself.

  1. Wilbur P. Baulch World War I Diary:

Wilbur Penorwood Baulch was born on April 25th, 1890 in Woodstock, Ontario to Samuel Fredrick Baulch and Ida Martha White Davis. Wilbur married Clara Beatrice Dunkley (1892-1976) on February 16th, 1915 and they had one son, Fredrick William Arthur Baulch. Samuel Fredrick, Ida Martha, Wilbur Penorwood and Clara Beatrice are all buried at Welcome United Cemetery, in the Municipality of Port Hope.

If you want more information on Wilbur and the diary, please visit our website:


About durhamregionareaarchivesgroup

DRAAG is the professional group for archives and repositories of the local history of Durham Region and surrounding areas.
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