(ATHENS, ONTARIO) The Athens Historical Society was delighted to host an evening with historian Brian Phillips as they celebrated the unveiling of their new heritage sign located in front of the Joshua Bates Centre at 1 Main Street West in the village on August 8.
The presentation, entitled “Athens: A History in Pictures”, showcased an elaborate collection of photographs and other memorabilia from the community’s past, all punctuated with Phillips’ dazzling running commentary. His natural wit and sense of humour help to bring not only the historical material alive, but also generate interest in the process itself.
“We just knew that Brian wasn’t going to disappoint us,” said Kathryn Hudson of the Athens and Area Historical Society. “It’s been a real thrill to work alongside him with the heritage committee for the past month. With his passion for history, and especially his passion for Athens history, it has just run over into all of us. I know that this dream of us having heritage signage and a walking tour has definitely been fulfilled. We can see all of the people, and all of the excitement for that, and I know that there’s going to be more happening to help fund our signage project.”
Phillips’ presentation was gleaned from thousands of photographs, documents and other items brought in by local residents to help fill in the rich tapestry that makes up the history of Athens. Using state of the art photographic and computer technology, he was able to capture all of their contributions digitally, enhancing faded and damaged materials, and saving them at archival quality. This new method of collecting and storing such valuable information is expected to long outlast the original artefacts, and keep this treasured material available, alive and fresh for generations to come.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about the method is the use of photographic techniques which enhance the details in the original pictures to a degree impossible to appreciate in the past. Items may now be enlarged to where facial features may be seen clearly and individuals recognized, once obscured signs become fresh and readable, and in some cases, it is even possible to read the time on the faces of people’s watches.