University of Guelph wants to share stories of rural Ontarians

Researchers from the University of Guelph want rural Ontarians to share their stories for a new archive.

Archive has 24 stories about rural Ontarians so far

David Borish is a collaborator with the University of Guelph's People's Archiver of Rural Ontario. (Supplied by Josie Wittmer)

Researchers from the University of Guelph want rural Ontarians to share their stories for a new archive.

The People's Archive of Rural Ontario has taken inspiration from a similar project in India, which documented the lives of people from rural communities. 

Josie Wittmer, who was hired to work on the project, said they have collected 24 stories so far, and want to hear from people in northern Ontario.

"There's a few northern Ontario stories, but we're really looking to get more of a northern Ontario voice and have more stories come in from that region," she said.

One of those stories is about Joe Wong, a  restaurant owner who had six Chinese restaurants across northern Ontario.

Wong adapted to local tastes and customs, and his sweet and sour pickerel became a well-known staple at one of his restaurants.

The People's Archive of Rural Ontario features a story about Joe Wong, a northern Ontario restaurant owner, who adapted to local tastes and customs. (Supplied by Josie Wittmer)

Another story documents how members of the Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation in northwestern Ontario harvest manomin, a type of wild rice.

The story also explores how yields of the wild crop have decreased over the years due to hydroelectric projects in the region.

"I think one part about having a people's archive, in particular, is that it's highlighting these voices and experiences from people's everyday lives in rural Ontario, in their words," Wittmer said.

"And so I think that it's important to have an archive documenting people's experiences and people's voices as they want to be represented."

David Borish, who is also a contributor to the project, said it's an opportunity for Canadians to learn about rural Ontario.

"If you're living in an urban environment it's also an option for people to actually learn about the diversity of rural Ontario," he said. 

"Because, you know, rural Ontario is not just about farmers in southern Ontario, it's about so much more than that."

With files from Sam Juric


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