Elizabeth Oliver-Malone has been appointed to the lifetime position of “archivist emeritus” in honour of her years of dedicated service to the Willowbank School of Restoration Arts in Queenston.
The board of directors of the school announced the appointment to coincide with Oliver-Malone’s 90th birthday on Sept. 10.
Reflecting on the honour, Oliver-Malone said, “My predecessors and peers have inspired me to keep on with archives for the Willowbank School of Restoration Arts and Centre for Cultural Landscape in an environmentally sustainable way. I have been very proud to do so.”
Together with her late husband Ralph Malone, she was a founding supporter of the acquisition of the Willowbank Estate and she has since remained an active member of the board.
Through the years she has organized and managed the Willowbank Archives and Library, even keeping some of the artifacts in her own home during periods of renovation and restoration of the building.
“In doing so, Elizabeth has become an expert on the history of the Hamilton family, who constructed the mansion in 1834 and subsequently lived on the property for almost a century,” said board chair John Scott.
Visitors to Willowbank during open houses are often welcomed by Oliver-Malone in period dress offering extensive tales of the evolution of both the estate and its occupants.
“Elizabeth has become an integral part of the culture of Willowbank,” said past-chair Patrick Little.
“I doubt we would have achieved the success we have with the school without her steadfast support.”
She visits the mansion several times each week and works with students in organizing both the library and archives.
“Her mind is like a steel trap – everything is stored and recalled as required. She is truly remarkable, like no other,” Little said.
Upon the announcement of the honour, Willowbank secretary Vikki Broer stated, “Elizabeth, you have and continue to be a highly supportive force at Willowbank, ever reminding us that understanding and sharing of the past is critical to a relevant and authentic future not only of Willowbank but of our world in general.”
Scott noted the archivist emeritus title “will ensure that the remarkable Elizabeth will actively serve Willowbank well into the future.”
He added that, “Willowbank is not only a Canadian historic site but in Elizabeth also boasts a true national treasure. We look forward to her continued contribution to the board and the Willowbank archives.”
“This is a very fitting tribute to a person whose dedicated work has made significant contributions to the preservation of our valued history.”