Author: Susan Ratcliffe
Publication Date: 2008
A lady with a passion for architecture and history, with an enthusiastic curiosity, with a drive for research, with an eye for detail and love of correct language, and with an abiding love for Guelph - that was Barbara Brooks. Her sudden loss on January 24, 2008, is not only a loss for arts and heritage in Guelph, but a loss for the Guelph Historical Society.
She filled many roles on the Board of Directors of the Guelph Historical Society, but she was best known as the editor of Historic Guelph: The Royal City, and the administrator of the annual Verne McIlwraith Essay Contest. She selected the themes, encouraged entries from experienced and novice essayists, assisted with questions, and received late entries with grace and gratitude. Then her real strengths came to the fore in editing the essays and vetting the research; she had a keen sense of good English and a dogged determination to make the essays correct in every way. She ensured that Historic Guelph maintained its reputation as a trustworthy and reputable journal of quality.
She contributed to heritage in other areas as well, as a 20 year tour guide for the Guelph Arts Council's Historical Walking Tours and as an enthusiastic contributor to Doors Open Guelph. She wrote many of the tour guides for the annual event since its inception in 2002. Her love of architecture was also evident in her annual service in the GAC Heritage Awards programme. To quote Sally Wismer, director of the GAC,
"She always did her best to help others to enjoy the significant architectural treasures with which Guelph is blessed - to see older buildings with new eyes."
Barbara Brooks will be missed in the world of Guelph's heritage, and especially in the Guelph Historical Society.