Tag Archives: Museum

Finally a New Post

Hello again world – well once again I’m back at it trying to force myself to communicate my thoughts to the unknown masses – sounds a bit dire doesn’t it?! Anyway a new and exciting project is in the works for me – actually two new and exciting projects!

The first is Memories of Niagara a new site to collect oral histories for the Niagara Historical Society and Museum . The museum is focusing on 1950-1970 and a little bit into the 1980s and covering what is today the municipality of Niagara-on-the-Lake. It’s a very extensive project we have collected just over 80- interviews to date and are adding this to the collection the museum already has as well as using some material that was collected by the Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library a few years ago. It’s very interesting to learn about this time period which encompass huge changes for the old town and surrounding township. The project covers topics such as  fruit farming, the canning industry, boat building (Shepard Boats, Georgian Steel Boats and C & C Yachts), a local fishing industry, heritage preservation, small town life, the end of the military training in Niagara-on-the-Lake  and of course the beginning of some of the things that make the area a world renowned tourist destination (the wineries, and the Shaw Festival). There have also been some interesting stories from individuals of European decent about immigration after Word War 2 and of course some locals who can trace their roots back to the United Empire Loyalists! What a lot of history for such a small corner of the province, I bet you thought there was only 1812 history in Niagara!

Photo credit: Artur Rozumek

I should of course mention, it is a huge year – (really 3 years 2012-2014) – of celebrations for the region, which played an important role in the War of 1812. Perhaps most notable the Battle of Queenston Heights where Sir Issac Brock fell. If that’s your interest you’ll want to come by the town this summer and stop in at the Museum, Fort George, and the battle site where Brock’s Monument casts an impressive shadow over the bluff. It is bigger than the statue to Nelson in Nelson Square, London England, a very cool place to get out of your car and learn some history!

Anyway all of that links into my second new project the Wampum Peace Run, I’ve been invited to work with Jim Calder, Delmor Jacobs (co-authors of Lacrosse The Ancient Game), Annet Kerr, Mathew Miller, and Derek Smith on this fantastic event that recreates  the message system used by Ongwehonwe Haudenosaunee (Six Nations) people in the pre and post contact era, and during the war of 1812. More to come on this exciting project that will see runners leaving from the Six Nations Reserve and Fort Erie Peace Bridge and meeting at Queenston Heights – covering over 10o kilometers and helping to tell the story of First Nations Peoples in the War of 1812.

In the Hamilton area? You have to visit this!

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of a of a private tour of the Hamilton Museum of Steam Technology with curator Mac Swackhammer. It is most definitely one of the best small to mid size museums I have been to lately. The Architecture of the building alone is magnificent, built in the 1850s it’s a testament to the skill of early masons and engineers. The waterworks has been designated as a National Historic Site and a Canadian Civil Engineering Landmark. But you really have to visit it to appreciated the structure. All of the parts of the steam driven beam engines are original. To stand in the piston room dwarfed by the great machinery and look two stories up to the massive iron beam rocking back and forth or watch the crank and flywheel rotate is astounding.

It may seem silly to be astounded by this large piece of metal, but even if you aren’t a great lover of mechanics,consider that this machine and its operators saved hundreds of people from the ravages of cholera, and helped Hamilton become the center of industry that it is today.

The museum is easily accessed from the QEW, at 900 Woodward Ave., and is open from Tuesday to Sunday throughout the year.

Moving Over

This post won’t be long -I’m moving over from my old blog  Muse(ums)…Escape the Tower so you can read my old blog entries there, as well as a little bit about who I am. However if you don’t want to visit the old site I can give you a quick overview of who I am here.

The original purpose for my blog was as an assignment for Digital History, one of the courses I am taking for my M.A. in public history at the University of Western Ontario. So I am a Public Historian in training, still learning the balancing act that such a field requires. My undergrad was a B.A. from Trent University in History and Indigenous Studies.

Although I am still exploring the historical field my interests are closely tied to the history of everyday life – hence my title “A Community of History” I believe that history is created by and for communities and that as a Public Historian it is part of my role to facilitate this sharing of stories.

I hope this blog will help me to do that.

A Chance to Revive Some Memories

This afternoon as I was taking an extended break from my essay and re-designing my blog I came across photos from my year at college so I decided to do an entry on what to date has been one of the most interesting and challenging years of my life! For those of you who don’t know my beginnings in museum work this may interest you, for those of you who do, I invite you to relive some great memories with me!

My first experience working in a museum was through my year of study at Fleming College, in the MMC program. Although as some unfortunate members of my class (who were living on campus) found out our classes weren’t actually held at the college, in fact they were at the opposite end of town. For anyone who has dealt with bus systems in a small city you will understand the frustration this caused! On the plus side we had a great bus driver (the same one everyday) who by second semester recognized all of us and would drop us off at the top of Armour hill, in a rather sleepy state to pick up the keys and make our way carefully down the snow covered hill to our portable.

Of course I am getting ahead of myself I promised some memories so here is a somewhat chronological rundown of my favourites!

1. The first day . . . how many of us were from Trent?! Vicki you will appreciate this!

2. Our first week and the trip to Lang Pioneer Village. . . of course trying to be fashionable at a pioneer village is just an awful idea, especially when you get your heal stuck in the boardwalk (yes that was me – how embarrassing)

3. Team building . . . apparently the “had a little sports car v-48” skipping rhyme doesn’t work when there are 14 people trying to jump-rope at the same time.

4. Museum nerd night at Riley’s . . . Jordan and his Mickey Mouse hands, oh how we love white cotton gloves!

5. Math for museums . . . poor John trying to teach a class primarily made up of historians how to do double entry bookkeeping . . . yuck!!!

6. Breaking terracotta pots, (re-breaking them in some cases) and gluing them back together – mine is still holding pencils on my desk and has made it through two moving days.

7. “Popcorn” . . . the song to the promotional video for the program – Caillin and Vicki you remember that day!?

8. Conservation/Preservation of books, my first experience with “red rot”, I ended up with a rust read blotch on my sweater!

9. Mount making 101, if I remember correctly our instructor was from CCI, I’ve never seen someone so adept with a blow torch!

10. “Birch Bark to Green Parks” at the PCMA, although it was a full year project involving design, research and construction, some of the highlights were the log driver video (Jordan that was genius), painting – which I’m sure we are all experts at now, canoe moving in small spaces, and of course the opening!

To those of you who shared the year with me thanks for making it great! Congratulations to all of you who have found jobs in the field, I know it isn’t easy but it is definitely worth every moment!

To my new Public History M.A. classmates, I look forward to a great year with you building new memories and sharing laughs along the way . . .