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Black Whale Fonds
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- Source of title proper: Title from contents of the fonds.
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- Percé Handicrafts Guild
Physical description area
20 cm of textual records
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In 1934 the Percé Handicrafts Guild was formed by a group of women, many of them wealthy "summer people" from Montréal, to encourage Gaspé handicrafts both for their intrinsic value and as a means of alleviating the financial hardships of the Depression. The Guild organized lectures, competitions, and exhibits, and in 1936 opened a shop in Percé called "The Black Whale." Guild members manned the shop on a volunteer basis, and profits were used for community projects, such as the Dental Clinic, staffed in the summer by McGill professors Roland Lamb and Arthur Walsh. The shop was a centre for the study of Gaspé history and natural science, and sponsored a number of publications, including a cookbook. Ethel Renouf was president of the committee who created and ran the Black Whale handicrafts shop. Margaret Lamb served as the first assistant clerk in the shop, beginning in the summer of 1935. She later married Roland Lamb, who served as the community’s first volunteer dentist in the summer of 1939. Phyllis Birks served as Chairman of the Percé Handicrafts Guild.
Scope and content
The fonds consists of textual records related to the operations and administration of the Percé Handicrafts Guild, the Black Whale Shop, as well other community initiatives sponsored by Percé Handicrafts Guild such as the the Black Whale Dental Clinic, and photographs of the shop and its volunteers. Operational and administrative files are intermingled with a range of informal correspondence, in particular many letters between Ethel Renouf and Phyllis Birks, and files of anecdotal notes and clips related to the Black Whale shop as well as to the history, flora, and geology of the Gaspé region.
Formal administrative records consist of letters patent for the Percé Handicrafts Guild, full minutes for 1939, and brief annual summaries of activities from 1933 to 1975. Legal documents comprise licence and registration papers, together with pertinent correspondence, 1938-1953, and a correspondence file relating to rental of the shop building. The financial side is illustrated by a cash book, 1934, and files of miscellaneous receipts, inventories, balance sheets and bookkeeping instructions, 1935-1971. Almost half the records of the Black Whale are informal in nature, for example, letters from Ethel Renouf to Phyllis Birks mixing personal news with accounts of shop operations and craft production, 1934-1937. Files of anecdotal notes and clippings relate the shop and to the history of the Gaspé, as well as on the flora and geology of the region. The fonds includes a copy of The Black Whale cookbook and some related records.. Some correspondence, budget notes and flyers pertain to the work of the Dental Clinic, 1939-1940. Sixty photographs featuring different views of the Black Whale handicrafts shop in Percé, Quebec, are also included. A number of photographs are individual and group portraits of the volunteers who created and ran the shop, including Ethel Renouf. A few photographs document a Black Whale Shop stand at the University of Montreal.
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Some photographs are duplicates in differing sizes.