We wouldn’t be the world’s largest independent LGBTQ2+ Archive in the world without the tireless support and commitment of our volunteers. This has included in 2017, The ArQuives being donated over 13,000 hours of volunteer time by 165 volunteers. Last year marked a celebration for six people who are part of our team – they were all honoured with 2017 Ontario Volunteer Service Awards.
Erica Lee has been part of the archives since December 2004. She has worked on a wide selection of our holdings including the vertical files and rare book collections. Currently, she is helping to maintain, organize, and describe The ArQuives’s records – she is working on of the Archives of the Archives. Correspondence from over 25 years ago, minutes to meetings attended by some of the founding members and the documents that describe the activities and impacts the archives has done and had over the years.
It’s the fact that The ArQuives is a community driven organization and her contributions will inform future generations that keeps her coming back.
“I started volunteering at The ArQuives in 2006, right around the time that I was beginning my Master of Information Studies program at U of T’s Faculty of Information Science (now called the ‘iSchool’).”
When I first started volunteering at The ArQuives I was cataloguing rare books (including the lesbian pulp fiction novels, which I adore!), then after a couple of months I got involved with the newly-formed Community Engagement Committee. These days I’m the Secretary of that committee, but have also served as its Chair. I was on the Board of Directors for a couple of years as well. Over the years I’ve done tours, made presentations at schools, created exhibitions and led walking tours. These days I’m happiest doing research to support the outreach activities of our committee.
I have learned so much here from the material, the other volunteers, and our visitors. I love having the opportunity to share that knowledge with others.”
Don McLeod has volunteered at The ArQuives since 1984. He does public service on Tuesday nights and has also spent a great deal of time conducting research there for his own articles and books. Don finds volunteering at The ArQuives rewarding because of the depth and breadth of the collections, the camaraderie of the volunteers, and the opportunity to meet and help a wide variety of researchers. Last November we announced his new book Gay Liberation in Canada: A Selected Annotated Chronology, 1976-1981.
Joined The ArQuives in 1996, and for more than 20 years has been our tireless IT-Guy and OS programmer. He came to the archives with vast experience in computing, fondly remembering the blinking lights of the IBM mainframes of yore. In the late ‘90s the archives had but 3 desktop computers. In 2009, we received a grant for a server and 9 workstations, enabling us to have a bonafide computer network to run the InMagic database system; and Mario put it all together. Working with the Operations Committee, Mario is responsible for creating and maintaining the Global Catalogue and other record-keeping applications, as well as the upkeep and troubleshooting of our computers and Windows operating systems.
For forty one years, Alan Miller has been volunteering as an archivist with The ArQuives. With professional experience at the Ontario Ministry of Labour Library and the Ryerson University Library, Alan has brought his experience to a number of valuable projects with The ArQuives. These includes the publication of three AIDS bibliographies in the early 1980s. Alan also compiled the guide “Our Own Voices: A Directory of Lesbian and Gay Periodicals, 1890s to 2000s,” which lists 7200 LGBTQ2+ periodicals (most of which are held at The ArQuives), and recently worked on digitizing key Canadian and international LGBTQ2+ periodicals.
Dennis Findlay is the President of The ArQuives, and has been volunteering at The ArQuives for nearly ten years now. Dennis was awarded the Community One Foundation’s Steinert & Ferreiro Award in 2017 for a lifetime of work advocating for the LGBTQ2+ community, work he has been doing in Toronto since the 1970s. Following the city’s bathhouse raids in 1981, Dennis became involved in the Right to Privacy Committee, and was instrumental in the defense of the accused following that raids. Dennis is featured in the documentary Track Two for this important advocacy. In addition to his work with The ArQuives, he has volunteered with Pink Triangle Press, opened a bakery, and formed the organizations Gay Court Watch and Gay Street Patrol, both groups created to support LGBTQ2+ people being targeted either in court or on the streets of Toronto.