In 2008 in the Montreal suburb of Saint-Basile-le-Grand, the local historical society was concerned that there were very few archives or records documenting the community’s agricultural past. What initially began as an oral history project to collect the memories and stories of its oldest residence blossomed into an extensive community-wide celebration of its heritage. Over 100 participants helped the historical society to amass a collection of more than sixty interviews with citizens and to collect over 4,000 photographic images and family documents. The result was an unprecedented historical record for the community.
Recognizing the potential of these new resources, the Saint-Basile-le-Grand historical society immediately put them to greater public use. For the past three years, the society has mounted a series of photo exhibits, public displays, and video recordings as part of other popular community events and celebrations. It is here that the historical society realizes the true success and impact of the initiative. Young families take greater pride and interest in the history of their neighborhoods, seniors feel their memories and contributions are better understood and appreciated, and the residents of Saint-Basile-le-Grand as a whole feel stronger and more connected as a community.