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Elsa-Ann Pickard

2016 Township Of King

"King Township has some wonderful groups that are making the community even better by volunteering. That is what makes communities work."

Elsa-Ann Pickard is one of three sisters born in Canada to European parents in the west end of Toronto. Her father, born in 1891, was a naval architect who immigrated to Canada in the late 1920s. Her parents passed on their strong work ethic. His work for the Canadian Navy included building warships, making parts for aeroplanes, and ammunition boxes.

Elsa-Ann’s experience in working with and serving the public dates back to the late 1940s when her parents converted part of their boat building shop into a hotel on Lakeshore Road, an ideal location, that tourists passed to visit Exhibition Place. Her family also ran a restaurant called The Dutch Sisters. There Elsa-Ann began working in the hospitality business until she went to Germany for a year when she was nineteen. On her return, she worked with Girl Guides for the Ontario Council as the Provincial Field Secretary, inspecting camps and training leaders.

Elsa-Ann married, and when her children came along, she took a break from working until her third and youngest child was three years old. When York Finch Hospital (now part of Humber River Regional Hospitals) opened, she went there intending to volunteer, and within six months she was hired to manage and coordinate volunteers. Her position was a newly formed one in a totally new profession. Elsa-Ann was involved with the Ontario Association of Directors of Volunteer Services in Healthcare and was President for a number of years. She loved her job, and eventually became the founding chair of the steering committee that created the national group for this association.

“When I was working at the hospitals, I recall volunteers saying they got more out of it than they could ever give. It’s a very common thing—when you volunteer, you are learning; you meet new people that you’d never have the opportunity to encounter otherwise.”

When Elsa-Ann moved to King Township in 1985, she worked at the Peel Memorial Hospital until she retired in 2000. This afforded her more time to devote to volunteering at the King Township Museum which was created by the King Township Historical Society (KTHS) in 1979 and operated for over twenty years with an entirely volunteer committee. Elsa Ann joined the Society in 1986and resigned from the board after her 25th year anniversary with the group. In 2001 the Society turned the collection of artifacts they had amassed over to the Township. As a member of the KTHS, Board Elsa-Ann saw the need for support in the day to day operation of the museum and began her volunteer work at the Museum under the first curator in 2001. The previous year, working with a volunteer committee they created the King Township Archives, which started as a millennium project but quickly filled a much needed role of preserving and recording the material culture of the community.

Elsa-Ann fills a variety of roles in the organizations she volunteers at and is an integral part of the operations. Her involvement at the Museum has included accessioning of artifacts, board membership, event planning and implementation, and developing long term goals and objectives over the last 16 years. Because she is very familiar with the artifacts and the operations of the museum, Elsa-Ann works directly with the museum curator on various programs and exhibits. Being a part of the development of the exhibits is richly rewarding to her, as she feels she is making a valuable contribution.

Elsa-Ann has been the Archives co-chair since the creation of the Archives Advisory Committee and oversees the day to day operation as well as developing policies and practices that are in line with the Archives Association of Ontario. She assists researchers looking for family history, or history of a property with requests coming from as far away as the UK, USA, and from all across Canada. Finding the right home and making connections with the community and the people she helps is key to her personal agenda. In particular, one scrapbook that was part of a donation, but contained important family mementos, was returned to a family member a number of years later—due to the tenacity and memory of this volunteer.

“Part of what we do ensures that articles go to the best place. This story is an example of being able to volunteer in both areas . . . As a result, the connection between the album and family history was made.”

Elsa-Ann also belongs to the York Durham Association of Museum and Archives where she sincerely values the connections she has made there. She continues to make connections in the community through events and programs and to push developments and best practices at the Museum and Archives.


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