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Resources: The John B. Ridley Research Library

Friday, March 20th, 2009
submitted by: Bob Evans

Any discussion of resources available to learn about Quetico Provincial Park would be entirely inappropriate without mention of the John B. Ridley Research Library ( ). If you travel into Quetico from any entry in Canada, you should plan a day or two before or after your trip to visit this excellent library. Several comfortable hotels are available in Atikokan to allow you a day or two to visit the library and enjoy Atikokan. The library is located in the lower floor of the Quetico Park Information Pavilion which can be found at the Dawson Trail Campgrounds in Quetico Provincial Park. If you have a French Lake area entry permit, you will check in with the Rangers in the Pavilion, and the library is downstairs.

This library was established in 1986 by the Quetico Foundation ( ) as a memorial to former chairperson John B. Ridley. “The mandate given to the library was to serve anyone with an interest in Quetico Park and environs, its history, resources, and the preservation and management of its wilderness and the lands around it.” (Quote from the library web site.)

The library is staffed during canoeing season by Andrea Allison, the research librarian. I have visited with her many times on site, by phone and via email, and she is always a great help. Not only is she a great help as a librarian, but she is an experience traveler in Quetico both in summer and in winter. She is acquainted with many of the people who have worked for the park, which helps greatly in her work.

Their small space has many books, photo albums, and other references on the shelves for immediate access. And since it is a research library, many more resources are archived in other rooms. Ms. Allison has spent a lot of time retrieving items for me when I was researching several topics. I appreciate her work immensely.

Ongoing activities are based in the Library. Shirley Peruniak, a former employee of Quetico, completed the book, Quetico Provincial Park: An Illustrated History,published in 2000, by Friends of Quetico Park ( ). In preparation of this book, Shirley completed many personal interviews with people involved in Quetico history. These interviews were transcribed and archived in the library. As a part of her research, a number of photo collections were secured and reviewed (many now in open albums on the shelves of the library). Shirley is still involved in this effort, and last summer we were privileged to meet her in the library and visit with her about some of the pictograph sites in the park.

Any entry to Quetico from the Canadian entry points should include a bit of time in the library. And be sure to drop a few dollars in the jar near the door. The information you gain is always worth a small donation.

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