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Rica Erickson developed an interest in anecdotal history from her grandmother's stories, and when she started teaching she instituted 'museum days' to encourage her students to find out more about their local history and their ancestors. After she moved to Bolgart she started collecting the stories of the older residents in the Toodyay and Victoria Plains districts, aware that they held many stories about the history of Western Australia.

Her first attempt at historical writing was in 1951 when she was asked to write a few pages on the history of Bolgart for the Bolgart and District Pasture and Improvement Group's first annual field day. She became known locally for her interest in history and when some old records were found under the rotting floorboards of the old courthouse at Toodyay, they were brought to Rica who, recognising their value, found a home for them at the Battye Library.

I was thus awakened to the history of WA gradually. When I was moving up to Bolgart as a teacher I was alerted by Dom Serventy to the fact that I'd be going past Drummond's home; he told me where it was and everything. So then I questioned people in the district about Drummond's descendants and became very interested in the fact that they hadn't been there for a hundred years practically. The legends were still there. I collected everything I could in that direction, and then found that the whole of the district was just full of people whose antecedents had come out in the first ship, so they claimed.

…I deliberately dug out old people in Toodyay and would be invited to their place by a young descendant and then I would talk to them. Sometimes I would have a little piece of paper in my hand, hidden underneath the tablecloth and I'd put a word or two just to remind me what they had said. Then as soon as I left them I'd stop the car by the side of the road and write out notes while they were fresh - and I drew maps. One old couple I know I took in my car (wonderful old people) and they took me around Toodyay, old Toodyay as well as new Toodyay, and told me where things had been. (Battye Library, OH 2528, pp. 20-21)

The research on the Victoria Plains and Toodyay took over 30 years of talking to people and delving into historical documents. When the history of the Toodyay district was published a notice appeared in the WA Government Gazette on 22 February 1974 approving the raising of a loan by the Toodyay Shire Council for a 'public work and undertaking'. Under the Local Government Act this would usually refer to a permanent physical object such as a road, building or piece of machinery and it is believed that this was the first time a book was approved as a 'work'.



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