Leonard K. Coles Papers fonds

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Leonard K. Coles Papers fonds

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  • Textual record
  • Graphic material
  • Moving images
  • Object

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  • ca. 1967 - [198-] (Creation)
    Coles, Leonard K.
    Oxford, County of

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Physical description

ca. 2.77 m textual records (including 1.83 m of scrapbooks)
ca. 0.56 m photographs and slides
8 mm reels, 1 video cassette
1 desk identifier

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Biographical history

Leonard Keeler Coles was born in Woodstock, Ontario in 1905 to Edward and Mary Coles. He attended Princess Public School, Central Public School and Woodstock Collegiate Institute, before attending Victoria College at the University of Toronto.

He was an active participant in University Rowing as well as inter-county baseball. In addition, Len Coles achieved Provincial & Canadian Championship ranking in tennis and badminton and was the Canadian Doubles Champ for badminton in 1935-36.

On October 17th, 1936 Len Coles married Marjorie A. Adams of Ingersoll. They had four children together: James, Robert, Roger and Anne.

Leonard Coles was the Oxford County Clerk and Treasurer between 1942 – 1970. During his years as County Clerk/Treasurer Len Coles played an active role in the formation and operation of such County programs as the building of Woodingford Lodge, the Health Unit, the Library, and Planning and Social Services. He also belonged to a number of committees such as the House of Refuge Committee and the Juvenile Court Committee, among others. Along with his County duties, Len Coles was president of the Ontario Good Roads Association, Director of Ontario Badminton Association and a member of the Senate at the University of Western Ontario.

Len Coles was also known for his research and writing on the history of Oxford County and its Council. His Len Coles Historical Notes began as a centennial project in 1967 and included studies of early councillors and members of parliament, the Court House Square, and the House of Refuge. His interest in the County continued long after his retirement in a room in the Court House renovated for him by County Council. There, Len Coles continued to work on his research and housed books, photographs and slides, histories of neighbouring counties, scrapbooks and other historical items related to the history of Oxford County.

Upon his retirement Len Coles was given the name “Mr. Oxford County” by friends – An honorary title bestowed earlier on Oxford County M.P.P. Sir Oliver Mowat, who served as Ontario Premier and Attorney General in the later 1800s.

Leonard Keeler Coles passed away on December 16th, 1991 in his 86th year.

Custodial history

All of the records for the County of Oxford were initially housed in the County Court House in Woodstock, Ontario. In 1967, County Council, along with Len Coles, authorized the transfer of the historical records (1842 – 196) to the Regional Collection at the University of Western Ontario. The County’s historical records, including the Leonard K. Coles papers, continued to be moved to the University until 1985. At that time, the records were then moved to the Norwich and District Archives (NDA) where an arrangement had been reached with the County, in which the NDA would have administrative custody over the fonds. Other materials related to this fonds were later removed to the NDA from the bookcase in Len Coles’ Historical Room in the Court House. In June 2000, the records were transferred and are now housed at the County’s official repository for the Municipal Corporation of the County of Oxford; The County of Oxford Archives located in Beachville, Ontario.

Scope and content

The fonds consists of various materials relating to the history of Oxford County and its administration (1850 – 1980s), including its predecessor the District of Brock (1839 – 1849). Such materials include:

By-laws for the County of Oxford

Annual Reports (such as the Woodstock Police Department)

Minutes of Meetings (such as the Property Committee and the Historical Society)

Municipal Handbooks, Brochures, etc.

Published materials on the History of Oxford County

Unpublished materials related to the history of Oxford County as well as other counties

Miscellaneous newspaper clippings related to Oxford County

Postcards – Jail, Armouries, House of Refuge and County Jail

Correspondence related to the County of Oxford


Cartographic materials

Scrapbooks (1946 – 1979) which include photographs, newspaper articles, invitations etc.

Photographs of the Committee Tour of the County Forest, the Jury of the Birchall Murder Trial, old County Court House and other scenes of Oxford County

Slides of County Councillors, Wardens, Committee Members, scenes of Oxford County, etc.

Negatives of County Court House and colour transparency

8 mm reels (1954 – 1962) and a reformatted version in V.H.S.

Len Coles desk identifier

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Physical condition

Some Material requires conservation work.

Immediate source of acquisition

The fonds was acquired in 2000, by the County of Oxford Archives from the Norwich District Archives.


Language of material

  • Canadian English

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Restrictions on access

The fonds is open to public research. However, please contact the archivist responsible for the records regarding access, as some materials may be too fragile to handle. The Archives will make every effort to supply reference copies where feasible.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Copyright is held by the archives. Researchers are responsible for observing copyright regulations that may apply to the publication of their research. If you wish to publish any of this material, please contact the archivist responsible for the records.

The Archivist has the right to restrict reproduction if the material is in a fragile condition

Finding aids

At this time, no detailed finding aid is available. Please contact the Archivist for further information

Associated materials

RG1 – District of Brock fonds
RG2 – County of Oxford fonds

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No further accruals are expected

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