Arnprior & McNab/Braeside Archives

About Us

Our Mandate

The Arnprior & McNab/Braeside Archives, an independent non-profit corporation, was established in 1993 to acquire, preserve and make important historical documents available.  

 Strategic Plan Summary

 Click on the above link to see our 2022 Strategic Plan Summary.

Volunteer Support

Each year thousands of hours are contributed by service volunteers who help researchers better access the archival material. Other volunteer work included service on the management board, standing and ad hoc committees, web site development, research, special projects, publicity and fund raising. In 2022 alone, the volunteers at the AMBA gave over 1437 hours of service.


Our Commitment 

The Arnprior & McNab/Braeside Archives consists of historical items that may contain offensive, outdated language in their titles and descriptions, and/or may depict individuals or groups in a negative way. 

We understand the impact language and images have on our community, in particular, that they may play a role in perpetuating systemic and cultural bias. The language used in the past is part of the history of Arnprior, McNab/Braeside and the surrounding region, and part of the Archives’ function is to represent the reality of this history as accurately as possible. To this end, no language has been omitted or changed at this time in the presentation of original records. 

While we retain legacy terminology for retrieval, we are working to identify instances of discrimination in archival titles and descriptions, provide contextualization for records, and are dedicated to the use of respectful descriptive language in future archival descriptions. 

If you have any questions, comments or concerns, or if you find any records of a sensitive nature you feel should be addressed, please contact:


Our Holdings 

The Arnprior & McNab/Braeside Archives holds approximately 400 fonds/collections as of December 2019.  Most of this archival material has been described in our database at the highest (fonds) level, while many fonds have been further described at the Series, file and/or item levels. These descriptions of our holdings are fully searchable online. You may browse the fonds titles using the Advanced search option in the Research database. Many records also contain images that have been scanned and linked to our descriptions. These will be updated on a regular basis.


Collection Overview

Our holdings contain many types of archival material, relating to the history of Arnprior and McNab/Braeside and the surrounding area. Highlights include:


Lumbering Era

This area was part of the once-flourishing lumber industry in the Ottawa Valley. There are collections on the Gillies Brothers of Braeside, the McLachlin Brothers of Arnprior, and the Stewart Family of Waba, as well as other private donations of journals, photographs, and other items.


Renfrew County Land Records

The original land registry documents from about 1850-1970 for the entire Renfrew County are housed here. Besides the registry books, there are individual instruments for land transfers, such as deeds, quit claims, and wills.



The Archives holds thousands of photos and negatives. Besides those found in a number of collections, there are two collections of special interest.

  • Handford Studio Collection – Contains thousands of negatives from their Renfrew portrait studio dating from just before 1900 to the 1970s. Many are the early glass plate negatives. All of the nitrate negatives and some of the other negatives have been scanned and are available for viewing in the online search.
  • Charles Macnamara Collection - An amateur local field naturalist, photographer, and scientist, this collection contains hundreds of negatives and photos, as well as his papers. Visit the Virtual Museum for a more in-depth look at this fascinating gentleman.


Cartographic (Maps and Plans)

Over 500 maps have been described at the item level. They include early maps of Arnprior, McNab Township, and area. There are also early Fire Insurance Plans for Arnprior, Braeside and other valley towns. In the online search, choose "maps" as the "Type of Material."


  • Municipal records, including assessment and collectors’ rolls.
  • Microfilmed local newspapers.
  • Community organization records, including local Women’s Institutes' Tweedsmuir Community Histories.
  • Private donations, including family histories and business records.
  • Research files from Peter Hessel, local historian and author. Includes a transcription of German Passenger Lists.
  • Local census and cemetery records.
  • Documents from the Arnprior & District Museum.


Collection Profile

  • Total Holdings: approx. 383 metres
  • Textual Holdings: approx. 333 metres
  • Photographic Holdings: approx. 50 metres
  • Number of Described fonds: 399 (a fonds/collection may consist of one item or thousands of items)


Management Board

Executive Officers

Irene Robillard - President

Brian Gilhuly - Vice President

Sara MacKenzie - Secretary

Brian Gilhuly - Treasurer

Other Board Members

Chris Toner - Town of Arnprior

Lori Hoddinott - Township of McNab-Braeside

Anita Schubrink - Women’s Institute

Ed Murphy - Member at Large

Emily Stovel - Member at Large




Emma Carey


Diane Bresson

Annual Reports

President's Report 2022

Archivist's Report 2022

Treasurer's Report 2022

25 Year Timeline



Donations gratefully accepted 

Our Thanks

Funding for this project was provided by the Government of Canada


Thanks also to:

Town of Arnprior

Town of Arnprior

Township of McNab-Braeside

Township of McNab-Braeside

Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Geneaological Society

Ontario Trillium Foundation

Ontario Trillium Foundation

AMBA also gratefully acknowledges a grant received from the Friends of the Archives of Ontario and a grant received from the Ontario Ministry of Culture.


This website and the archival search developed and hosted by Andornot Consulting.