While many have been, and still are champions of the preservation and celebration of local heritage and history, few have displayed the level of passion and sheer tenacity that Mary Laverty brought to bear over some three decades.
Starting in the early 1980s, Mary clearly recognized the need to preserve all forms of local heritage, including researching and presenting the history and architecture of buildings. She volunteered her time for restoration efforts, was involved with the naming and cataloging of Roy Studio Images, assisted in the writing and development of public policy on heritage issues, and rewrote the bylaws of the Peterborough Historical Society to bring them in line with 21st century thinking and practices. In short, Mary saw the pressing need for cultural preservation, rolled up her sleeves and made it happen.
Mary’s work with Roy Studio Images led to her researching for her book Upper Stoney Lake: Gem of the Kawarthas. Later, with her husband Doug, she researched and wrote Up The Burleigh Road: Beyond The Boulders. For her writing prowess and the breadth of her research, she received the 2011 Award of Merit from the Ontario Heritage Trust.
Among the many who worked with Mary on a number of committees and projects was inaugural Trent University president Dr. Tom Symons. Just recently, he remembered Mary for “standing out amongst those who have cherished and cared for the distinctive heritage of this old Ontario town.”
During her five terms as president of the Peterborough Historical Society, Mary sewed heritage dresses for volunteers to wear and managed the historical preservation of the museum. In addition, she organized the High School History Awards and the annual Heritage Awards presentation. Mary also spoke on heritage issues before numerous groups as well as promoted and organized active community participation in local heritage activities, most notably via the annual Doors Open Peterborough initiative.
Before her passing in July 2014, Mary amassed a number of awards and honours. In 1985, her championing of the educational and historical significance of PCVS brought her an Award of Merit as Educator of the Year; in 2007, and again in 2009, the City of Peterborough presented her with its Cultural Betterment Award; and 2011 brought her the Award of Merit from Heritage Ontario. Mary also won the George A. Cox Heritage Award.
It’s no small wonder that Trent Valley Archives director Elwood Jones praised Mary as the backbone of the Peterborough Historical Society, her husband Doug noting “When Mary got involved in a cause, she really believed in it.” Mary’s many contributions continue to form the foundation of historical understanding and preservation in Peterborough.