The Canadian Quaker Archives and Library is managed by the Archives Committee (formerly Records Committee) of Canadian Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. The Committee operates under Canadian Yearly Meeting Organization and Procedures 6.17 (O&P). In October 2019, the Canadian Quaker Archives and Library had to temporarily suspended operations. The Archives Committee is working to address the re-opening of the Archives and Library as soon as possible.
For many years Jane Zavitz-Bond has worked as the volunteer archivist. She has retired from this position, but continues on the Archives Committee as archivist emerita.
This created a period of transition and along with other problems has resulted in the current closure of the Archives. This closure has been extended due to the Covid-19 pandemic which has brought uncertainty as to how and when the Archives may open.
Pickering College, which houses the Library and Vault, has been closed and the Archives Committee has been physically unable to assess the Archive’s needs.
A Working Group of concerned people had been struck in 2019 to help resolve some of the problems of the management of the Archives and the need for an archivist once the Archives could be opened again. This group will be laid down. A revived Archives Committee, now consisting of six members is diligently working to hire an archivist and to open the Archives.
One of the largest obstacles to operating the Archives is funding. Canadian Yearly Meeting owns and operates the Archives, but it is suffering from lack of sufficient funds to do the many things it would like to do. Canadian Yearly Meeting has been visioning how to proceed through a group called Change and Sustainable Transformation (CAST) working group. It is incumbent on those who wish to see the Archives as a viable entity to remind Canadian Yearly Meeting that the Archives must be supported. Pickering College has been historically very helpful by allowing the Archives to be housed there. The Archives Committee now has to hire an archivist and this has created more funding needs for the Archives operation.
Canadian Friends Historical Association exists because there are those interested in the history of Quakers in Canada. Canadian Yearly Meeting, its constituent Monthly Meetings, and Committees such as Canadian Friends Service Committee are the present-day living and active Religious Society of Friends. The documents that record their history are located in the Canadian Quaker Archives and Library. CFHA has been industriously transcribing and digitalizing many of these documents, but the physical record must also be preserved.
Below is a description of the Quaker Archives and Library from quaker.ca:
“The Archives consist of the records of the Yearly Meeting and its constituent meetings and various committees since the mid-1700s. It also includes photographs of places, persons and events, the personal papers of various Canadian Quakers, and artifacts from pottery to traditional Quaker bonnets.
The Arthur Garratt Dorland Reference Library holds over 5000 titles of non-circulating books, journals, newspapers and pamphlets dating from the late 1600s to today. Contained within the Library is the Rendell Rhoades Discipline Collection, an extensive collection of Quaker Books of Discipline (Society of Friends’ organization and practice).
The nucleus of the Quaker archives in Canada began in the 1920s when Arthur G Dorland collected records during research for his doctoral thesis, which became the book A History of the Society of Friends (Quakers) in Canada (1927). In 1927 he deposited these records at the University of Western Ontario, where he was head of the History Department. During the next 56 years the UWO held Canadian Quaker records. The Quakers in Canada, A History (1968) by Arthur Dorland is still available.
The 1955 reunification of Friends in Canada resulted in the formation of the Canadian Yearly Meeting, combining the records from Canada Yearly Meeting (Orthodox-Five Years Meeting), Canada Yearly Meeting (Conservative), and Genesee Yearly Meeting – some of which is in New York State (Hicksite-Friends General Conference). The Rendell Rhoades Collection of Quaker Disciplines was acquired in 1981.
Lacking ecclesiastical centres, Yearly Meetings in North America have often chosen a Quaker school as the location in which to establish an archives and library. Pickering College was founded by Friends in 1842 and is now an independent primary and secondary day/boarding school in Newmarket, Ontario. Rebuilding after a fire in 1981, Pickering College included in their plans an environmentally-controlled room and vault for the archives of Canadian Yearly Meeting. The archives were moved to Pickering College in 1983 with Jane Zavitz-Bond, teacher and librarian at the College at the time, serving as volunteer archivist for almost 4 decades.
Researchers will find extensive documents in the more recent records of Canadian Yearly Meeting, including those from the Canadian Friends Service Committee, the Quaker Committee on Native Concerns (now the Quaker Indigenous Rights Committee), Camp Neekaunis Committee, the Committee on Jails and Justice, the Home Missions and Advancement Committee (now the Education and Outreach Committee), Religious Education Committee, the Discipline Committee, and the Foreign Missionary Board. These files may be found in the Vault Collection.
The personal papers of active Canadian Friends supplement these records. Non-textual records include maps and photographs of Meeting Houses, homes, and individuals. There are extensive holdings of published materials, particularly The Canadian Friend (published since 1904), as well as pamphlets and tracts containing testimonies of Friends on subjects of simplicity, education, human rights, and peace.”