I started History Lives Here in 2004 upon returning to my hometown of Picton, Ontario after a career as a journalist working across Canada, in Europe, and around the world documenting Canada’s international relief and development efforts.
My interest in my hometown history started decades earlier when I researched the rise and fall of the canning industry in the area – once the centre of the canning trade in Canada – as part of my graduate studies in journalism. I was astonished to learn that I was researching a great untold story of Canada as I interviewed retired farmers, women who had worked the long shifts peeling tomatoes in local factories, former plant managers, and others involved in an industry that came to mean everything to Prince Edward County.
I’m glad I missed the first days of the canning industry. It was very unsanitary, botulism among consumers was common, and it was decades before science improved early practices. Still, it was a major advance in the days when starvation was a constant threat. And despite the low wages, poor crop prices paid to farmers, and the monopolistic practices of factory owners, it was the driving economic engine in this county for almost 100 years. When it collapsed in the 1960s – a victim of more modern factories built in other places with longer growing seasons and more fertile soils – it was a death blow to the local economy.
That research left me addicted to history. And I have been telling stories about my hometown and neighbouring communities ever since. My thesis research later became part of a television history series – The History Moments – launched in 2009 featuring short video vignettes on local history themes broadcast on area television stations and before movies at theatres.
Over the years, we’ve been part of many projects to restore heritage buildings and properties, to celebrate significant anniversary events, and to heighten community awareness of the history that is all around us – and the need to preserve it for future generations.
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We believe the best way to preserve this heritage – before it is lost to Time – is to tell these stories to mainstream audiences; and to package history into a suite of goods and services retailed year-round and worldwide to consumers so history becomes an economic driver.
The future of the past in many Canadian communities is uncertain. Aging volunteers, donor fatigue, and unprecedented development are all factors in the dramatic change taking place. Without thoughtful heritage and development strategies, historic properties and cultural landscapes can be casualties.
But if history made money – as it does in many places in the world – everyone would be in favour of preserving the past. That’s the puzzle we’re working on.
Let us tell your stories….
before they are lost to Time.
Peter has traveled extensively as a journalist working across Canada and internationally in places such as Costa Rica, Colombia, China, Ghana, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. His interest in local history was developed when he wrote his master’s thesis [Master of Journalism graduate, Carleton University 1986] on the canning industry of Prince Edward County, once the capital of the industry in Canada. The rise and fall of this industry – and its impact upon the community – created his enduring interest in local history.
Peter also has extensive experience working within the non-profit sector as a volunteer, board member and consultant. His understanding of volunteer agencies, broadcast skills, and interest in local history all combined to develop his company.
Peter has developed a strong team of experienced professional associates to provide a wide range of services to businesses, industry associations, and community heritage organizations celebrating their history.
Robin Cooke Inc.
Sandra Foreman Photography
Brad Mann Communications
Event Planner/Marketing Specialist