Seniors Helping Seniors Develop a Living History Collection

From June 2017 to March 31, 2018, we conducted a project funded by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors program that engaged seniors in telling, recording and sharing their stories. We worked with a variety of seniors-serving groups to support a wide range of senior volunteer participants, mostly members of Quebec’s official-language minority population, and members of the deaf community.

The project’s legacy is an evolving Seniors Living History Collection in a multi-media format, available to all through digital media and permanently based in our heritage building, where traditional and cutting-edge technology coexist.

The project brought together seniors for creative storytelling, documentary making and dissemination. We facilitated the senior participants’ use of digital technology to capture stories with video and sound. We are now categorizing them with multiple access points so that the Seniors Living History Collection has many applications. For example, the Collection will be a tool for researching neighbourhoods, career paths and different types of life experiences.

While seniors led the project and served as mentors, younger people were involved and there was good intergenerational collaboration.

We will ensure the Seniors Living History Collection develops beyond the project through our future digital media work with seniors.

For more information, please contact our Community Outreach Librarian, Eric Craven, at

Project Activities

Friday, June 16, 2017 from 1:00 to 3:30 pm
The project started with an information session followed by a workshop facilitated by Dr. Steven High, Concordia University history professor.

Weekly Friday sessions of project participants for learning, sharing and creating.

Outreach and collaboration with Concordia University Faculty of Fine Arts, Union United Church, Royal Montreal Curling Club, RCA Museum, Canadian Centre for Architecture and others.

Thursday, November 30, 2017 from 5:00 to 7:00 pm 
Mechanics’ Days Vernissage — A public reception showcased project work as well as displays by Concordia History and Art Education students whose classes were at the Library during the Fall semester.  Over 200 attendees.

Friday, January 26, 2018
Presentation by project participants to Concordia Art students. 50 people present.

Thursday, February 15, 2018 from 6:00 to 9:00 pm 
Workshop with deaf people about their relationship to music, in collaboration with Universite de Montréal and UQaM. This workshop was recorded by seniors participating in the project.

Starting February 25, 2018
“Birth of a local living history collection” — A series of articles by project participant Wanda Portrykus published in online — part 1, part 2 part 3, part 4 and part 5.

Friday, March 9, 2018 from 12:00 noon to 1:30 pm
Participants presented videos and other media they made in the course of the project. Light refreshments were served at this celebratory public showcase event.

Friday, March 9, 2018 from 1:30 to 3:00 pm
Photographer Brian Merrett gave a public presentation on the role of the artist in shaping the built environment. He discussed Montreal examples such as protests against plans for the Ville-Marie Expressway, the fight to save Windsor Station, and the conservation of Shaughnessy House as part of the Canadian Centre for Architecture. This public event was held collaboratively with Concordia University Art History.