The St. Thomas-Elgin branch was founded in April 2009 very much out of the ashes of Alma College, the renowned private girls school that was the city's crowning heritage jewel. The college was a victim of arson following years of neglect by its owners and inaction by various levels of government.
Former Branch president Suzanne van Bommel and past president Dawn Doty were at the forefront of community action to save the building, winning ACO recognition as a result.
St. Thomas and Elgin are at the centre of a rich railway heritage which has left behind a handful of important landmarks such as the Michigan Central Locomotive Rail Shops (now the Elgin County Railway Museum) and the famed Canada Southern Railway Station, now undergoing a major restoration as a community meeting space and home of the North American Railway Hall of Fame.
Although no complete inventory exists, the county has a rich collection of heritage buildings dating back to the 1820s. A local favourite is Old St. Thomas Church, built in 1822.
Many heritage buildings are at considerable risk due to a lack of municipal standards for upkeep. Of particular concern at present is the fate of a fine collection of late 19th century schools which are being slowly replaced by the Thames Valley School Board.
Buildings at Risk
Sunset Drive and Talbot Street
MCR Rail Trestle Over Kettle Creek