In the fall of 1918, Barnett’s personal library of upwards of 40,000 books on many different subjects was donated to Western University in London. Barnett’s move to Western was negotiated by historian Fred Landon, then Chief Public Librarian for the city of London. Landon convinced Barnett, apparently over a lunch time stroll, to donate his collection to Western’s fledgling university library which consisted of less than 5,000 books.
Barnett, who had, at one point, drafted a will leaving the collection to McGill University or if the university would not accept them to the federal government as a nucleus for a national library, accepted Landon’s offer on the condition that Barnett would still, for all intents and purposes, be in charge of his collection as curator. Barnett stipulated that the collection be available to any earnest researcher, whether in the university or not, and he specifically did not want his collection kept separate from the growing general collection of the university library.
Barnett was given a salary and an annual travel grant to allow him to continue to seek out treasures for the library. Mrs. Patterson, who donated Barnett’s desk to the Perth County Historical Collection, was Fred Landon’s daughter, Mary Florence Landon (1916-1979). She spent much of her life in Stratford.
Many thanks to Professor Ian Rae, King’s College, for drawing our attention to the presence of Barnett’s desk. And thanks as well to Stratford Perth Museum for loaning the desk to us for our 50 Treasures exhibit. Stratford-Perth Archives