Alberton researcher finds award winning work rewarding


Published on April 6, 2017

Arlene Morrison, manager of the Alberton Museum and Eileen Oulton Genealogy Centre, Shows a sampling of the genealogy material that’s been compiled at the centre.

©EDIC MCCARTHY/TC MEDIA

ALBERTON, P.E.I. - Arlene Morrison says she has spent a lot of teary days in the Alberton Museum’s genealogy centre.  

The tears, though, are not out of frustration, and oftentimes they are not even her own.

They come from the connections that are made, sometimes even by chance.

She recalls helping a family with some ancestral research. While they were still in the museum, researching, a second group arrived and, even though the groups did not know each other, they were looking for the same information.

“You just kind of laugh and say, ‘well, here you are now,’” she says of the on-the spot introductions.

Morrison, who has been working at the Alberton Museum seasonally since 1984, was soon smitten by genealogy research.

After all, the founder of the museum, the late Eileen Oulton, had amassed a large collection of genealogy material.

Over the past 33 years Morrison has steadily added to that collection. Binders fill a back wall of the museum’s Eileen Oulton Genealogy Centre.

Sometimes people drop in looking for relatives who might live in the area, or to be pointed in the direction of their late grandparents’ homestead.

Or, she will make a call and say, “Look, your cousin is here. Can they go up to see you or can you come down and meet them?”

“I don’t know how many times I’ve contacted people and they’ve met up and I just let them go.”

She’s not afraid to pick up the phone and call all over North America in search of information for a family tree.

“When you tell them you’re calling from Prince Edward Island, there was something about that, and people were just so willing to talk to you,” she said.

“People get really excited over this stuff,” Morrison acknowledged.

“I have found things for people that I’ve been thanked a million times for. It’s a good feeling; it’s nice.”

Who was Mary (Cornfoot) Brehaut?

Born in Charlottetown, Feb. 7, 1887

Educated at West Kent School and Prince of Wales College. Taught at West Kent until 1912.

Active with P.E.I. Teachers Federation, IODE and P.E.I. Heritage Foundation

Instrumental in the 1953 revival of the P.E.I. Historical Society

Died in Charlottetown in 1975.

Morrison was recently presented with the Mary Cornfoot Brehaut award by the Prince Edward Island Museum and Heritage Foundation in recognition of outstanding contribution to the preservation of the heritage of P.E.I.

She deflects the recognition to the founder of the museum and genealogy centre.

“People always said that Mrs. Oulton was ahead of her time,” she reflected on the late historian’s interest in preserving the past.

“I just feel that I carried on what she wanted it to be, with the help of many other people. I just hope that she’s pleased, and her family, too are pleased, that her museum is still functioning.”

Morrison says she’s honoured to receive the Mary Cornfoot Brehaut award because it means someone feels she deserves it.

“I’m not here working for an award; I’m just here doing my job,” she said, admitting she loves what she does.

“It’s rewarding and it’s interesting and it’s fun.”

eric.mccarthy@tc.tc