COMMENTARY: Past is not forgotten but what about the future past?

Cornwall historian Sara Lauzon is fundraising for a monument to mark the burial spot of the House of Refuge inmates. She hopes to have a ceremony in June. (Cornwall Newswatch/Randi Belec)

I’m Bill Kingston with today’s commentary. I have admired the work and the passion displayed by Sara Lauzon. You probably know her as Cornwall’s “little historian.” Sara has been working on a book while also researching the former inmates at the House of Refuge, the site known today as the Heartwood nursing home. It’s a monumental task to record the history and the stories of all 906 former residents. Sara has been hunting through records, looking through microfiche and talking to people to capture those stories. But it makes me wonder how challenging the “future past” will be for historians. Fifty years from now when they’re looking back on this time what historic documents and pieces of information will be left? Everything is so superficial with Facebook, social media and the like. Writing a postcard is not a normal occurrence (maybe at Christmas time) and a hand-written letter is something to be revered and cherished and photos are rarely printed – mostly sitting on hard drives and thumb drives that can disappear with the click of a button. Everything has become so digital and not tangible that historians are going to have a tougher time recording our history. As the saying goes, “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” and without that history will future generations have a tougher time than their predecessors?

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