Fonds consists of manuscripts and research materials pertaining to Jean Murray Cole's biography of Chief Factor Archibald McDonald, entitled Exile in the Wilderness, and her published compilation of Archibald McDonald's letters, entitled This Blessed Wilderness. Also included are extensive research materials on Ranald McDonald (son of Archibald McDonald). Other research relates to Peterborough area settlers including the Strickland family (Catharine Parr Traill and Susanna Moodie), Frances Stewart, and Sandford Fleming. Materials encompass all aspects of research, correspondence with descendants, papers given by Cole, newspaper and magazine articles, maps, and photographs. The fonds also contains Cole's files on "Edwardian Peterborough" (a conference held in May 2005).
Cole, Jean Murray