Black and white photographs of six people.

Survival of archival materials is a hit-and-miss affair. Many are destroyed by people who don’t see them as important, or who are not aware that there might be somewhere to send records apart from the municipal waste disposal centre.

But, sometimes, the stars align. In July the Community Archives was contacted by a person who had cleared out the former premises of the Ontario Business College when it changed hands. They had been keeping materials relating to the College in a lock-up for the last ten years and were the archives interested?

Ontario Business College records being sorted.

The records included registers of students, examination papers, text books and a small collection of photographs: one metre of materials in total and, overall, an important slice of the College's history. The photos included the set of six small black and white portraits of unidentified individuals shown here. It’s always disappointing when there are no names attached to pictures of people, but that is one of those annoying facts of archival life.

One month later, another donor got in touch. This person was a relative of Annetta Brown, who was the principal of the Ontario Business College in the 1960s and 1970s. Would the Community Archives be interested in some materials she had kept? It’s quite a coincidence to have two donations relating to the same organization in as many months.

The second donation was much smaller: only five centimetres of mostly printed materials. It includes a small number of promotional publications relating to the College. One of these, dating from around 1980, has five photographs of students with testimonials about the college.

Page of a promotional booklet on the Ontario Business College, with two photographs of students.

And just like that, five of our unidentified individuals had names (and opinions!). If more than a month had elapsed between receiving these two donations, we would probably never have even noticed that these people featured in both of them.

Photo with names: Karen J. Turner, Clement Ferdinand, John McDonnel, Marg Courneyea, Louise Todd.

We would still like to know the name of the sixth person in the group. Please email the archives if you know who our mystery woman is!