Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Take Your Best Shot exhibit opening and Snowflake Festival 2013

The place was packed again last Friday for our Take Your Best Shot exhibit opening, which was part of the annual Snowflake Festival in St. Albert.

The 3rd Take Your Best Shot photo contest invited youth from Grades 3 - 12 to submit photographs based on the theme of "Play" in St. Albert. The exhibit opening invited contestants, their families, and all visitors to view the entries on display. As well, there was a prize reception for the top three in each age category of Grades 3 - 6, Grades 7 - 9, and Grades 10 - 12.

There were also plenty of other activities happening at the Musée during the Snowflake Festival. Check out some of the action.

Tori helping make snowflakes with some youngsters.

Sharon was busy all night, helping make snowflakes

All submitted photographs to the contest are now on display at the Musée Héritage Museum until January 12, 2014. Check out some of the winning entries below. We invite all youth to stay tuned for next year's contest. All of us at the Musée enjoy the truly unique works of our local talent and appreciate the opportunity to display them for our community to enjoy as well. A grand thank you to our sponsor, McBain Camera, for making this photo contest possible.

Maya, Grade 6
2nd Prize, Grades 3 - 6
"I was taking pictures at the playground when my sister Maureen flipped upside-down on the glider. I lay down on my back below her to take the picture, and then I scrambled out of the way before she swung her feet back down!

I chose this picture because it almost makes my sister look like a superhero coming out of the cloudy sky."

Calvin, Grade 6
3rd Prize, Grades 3 - 6
"I took this photo on a field near my school where like to play football. I chose this photo because I like how the football, in flight, stands out in the picture because of its bright yellow colour surrounded by white and blue sky. The fact that only one third of the football is covered in sunlight makes the ball stand out more. I also like how the ball is passing through the goalposts."

 Sean B., Grade 10
3rd Prize, Grades 10 - 12
"Heart stopping, breathtaking, with a feeling like no other that leaves onlookers in awe! In this thrilling, undeveloped area my friend and I found a natural playground that we have used as a set of hair raising dirt bike jumps. This photo captures a true glimpse of what St. Albert is like behind the state of the art buildings and contemporary homes. I feel privileged to have this area so close to my home."

Grace-Anne, Grade 8
3rd Prize, Grades 7- 9
"This photo is of my dog Coal playing in a park close to my house where I have lived my whole life. My dog Coal is a Belgian shepherd mix and was also a foster dog. We got Coal from H.A.R.T. humane animal rescue team and was abused. Coal is really important to me he is more then a dog he’s family."

 Amy, Grade 6
1st Prize, Grades 3 - 6
"One day, when I was taking photos of the sunset from my backyard in St. Albert, I saw a hot air balloon and a paraglider. The paraglider was circling around the hot air balloon. I took the photo because it’s not every day you see a hot air balloon and a paraglider playing in the sky."

 Holly, Grade 9
2nd Prize, Grades 7 - 9
"Every year around Thanksgiving my family goes for a hike through the Riverlot 56 Natural Area to enjoy the sights and smells of Autumn. These two girls are my younger sisters."

Serena, Grade 7
1st Prize, Grades 7 - 9
"Me and my friends like to go to the Forest Lawn Ravine. One day we found a swing hanging from a tree and thought it would be a good play to play."
Samantha R., Grade 11
2nd Prize, Grades 10 - 12
"I chose this photo because it displays the theme of ‘Play’ perfectly. The smile on the boys’ face while playing on the swing shows how happy he is to be at the park, playing. By definition, to play means to engage in an activity for enjoyment, and the little boys face shows nothing but pure joy."

Dan, Grade 10
1st Prize, Grades 10 - 12
"I took this picture of my brother Ben playing Pacman on the Xbox 360; I think it represents play for a great many teenagers. I took the picture in the dark without the use of a flash because I feel this gave the picture greater contrast and definition. I also think the picture represents play over several decades because Ben is playing a retro game on a modern console."

Friday, November 8, 2013

Remembrance Day 2013 - Korea – by Roy Toomey

Not much work needed to put up exhibit panels? Check out what Roy Toomey, one of our education programmers, has to say about his experience writing the Korean War panels for the Remembrance Day 2013 exhibit at Musée Héritage Museum, opening on November 8, 2013. 

For Remembrance Day 2013, at the Musée Héritage Museum, we wanted to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War (1950 to 1953).  This international conflict, in which Canada played a major role, is not well-known.  Most people’s exposure to the Korean War is the film and TV series: M*A*S*H. Some 27,000 Canadians served in Korea.  This was the 3rd largest contribution of all the United Nations, behind only the US and the UK.  Over 516 Canadians died in Korea, showing that just as they had in two World Wars, Canadians were willing to give their lives for international freedom and democracy.
As St. Albert’s museum, we wanted to link the Korean War to St. Albert.  Finding soldiers who served in Korea, and who were actually from St. Albert, wasn’t easy.  We decided to focus on Gerard “Gerry” Harnois.  Gerry was born in St. Albert, and his grandfather, Leon, was the first Harnois to settle in St. Albert.  Leon married Christine Lacombe, the sister of Father Albert Lacombe.  Thus, Gerry had strong ties to the history of St. Albert.  He served nearly 30 years in the Canadian Army, serving in World War II, the Korean War, and Egypt in the 1950s.  His three brothers also served in World War II, and one of them, Philippe, died in the war.
Harnois brothers in military uniform - Maurice, Philippe, Gerard, and Paul.
Being passionate about Canada’s military history, I was given the honour of researching and writing the first drafts of the Remembrance Day 2013 exhibit panels.  The research itself wasn’t difficult but writing the text panels was a challenge.  Working under the supervision of our curator, Joanne White, an expert at writing concise and informative museum panels.  To honour St. Albert’s French-Canadian roots, our panels are in French and English, so fitting all the information on only a few panels can be difficult.
I consulted Veterans Affairs Canada for much of the information about the Korean War, and our own archives for information about Gerry Harnois.  When writing about military history, I tend to be wordy.  To me, all the information is pretty important, but you can’t include every detail on only a few panels.  We wanted three panels about the war, and one about Gerry. 
I started by organizing my facts, and then writing a short, organized history of the Korean War.  Once that first draft was done, I began paring it down.  Sometimes this meant changing the wording; other times this meant cutting “stuff.”  My first narrative was about four pages long!  With Joanne’s help, I cut it down to a page and a half.  Quite the cut, eh?  Once this 2nd draft was done, Joanne took over and made further cuts, creating the final narrative for the exhibit.  The trick to writing museum panels is to tell as much of the main story as possible, and to give a brief history of a subject, focusing only on key elements.  Working with Joanne to create text panels for the museum has taught me to keep it simple and concise.

There are other Korean War veterans that live in St. Albert today. Al McBride and Gord Carter are two of them. For more information about their stories, please visit the St. Albert Leader's articles at:  Credit where credit is due, and A different perspective on Remembrance Day.

The Remembrance Day 2013 exhibit is open at the Musée Héritage Museum from November 8-17, 2013. The Musée will be open on Remembrance Day from 10am - 1pm.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pilgrimage of Remembrance, 2013 – Part III by Roy Toomey

So what do museum staff members do when they go on vacation? One of our education programmers, who is a military history enthusiast, went to visit some World War sites in Europe. This blog is the final part of his personal account of what it meant to him.
After Vimy Ridge, we headed for Normandy, France.  World War I was over for us, but World War II was just beginning.  Our first stop was Dieppe.  At the beaches, it became obvious why Dieppe was a failure.  Steep slopes and loose, slippery gravel make it difficult to even walk.  High cliffs still littered with bunkers and pillboxes surround the beaches, especially at Blue Beach: perfect vantage points from which the Germans could repel the Canadians.
View of Blue Beach from front of German bunker
Dan and I left Dieppe, and moved on to Juno Beach, Canada’s own D-Day landing.  The length of Juno Beach is staggering; about eight kilometres!  Five Canadian regiments were spread out across the beach that day.  German defences were formidable, with machine guns, artillery, and fortifications placed at very regular intervals.  Seeing this in person, it’s a wonder the Canadians succeeded at all on D-Day, yet they made it further inland, and achieved more of their objectives, than the British or the Americans!
View of part of Juno from German pillbox
The museum, memorials, and preserved defences along Juno are excellent, and the cemeteries in Normandy are powerful reminders of the aftermath of war.  We visited the Abbaye d’Ardennes, and stayed at the grand Chateau d’Audrieu.  During World War II, these sites saw mass executions of Canadian POWs by the 12th SS.  The 12th SS murdered about 150 Canadians in Normandy.  Standing on the actual sites of these war crimes was sad and surreal.
Juno Beach bunker and centre
Chateau d'Audrieu
We left our car in Caen, France, one of the cities my grandfather was in while serving in World War II.  We took the train from Caen to Paris, and then flew home.  The trip was about nine days.  It was a great adventure, but really could have been longer.  It truly was the pilgrimage we had hoped for.  We paid our respects as best we could, and did our small part to honour the thousands of Canadians who sacrificed their lives for Canada, and for freedom and democracy, in two World Wars.  I strongly urge all Canadians to make a similar trip!  I hope you enjoyed these past few blog entries, and thank you for allowing me to share my experiences with you.

If you would like to see more of Roy's trip, please visit Roy's personal Flickr page. Stay tuned for Roy's next blog about his experience researching the Korean War for the Musée Héritage Museum.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Pilgrimage of Remembrance, 2013 – Part II by Roy Toomey

So what do museum staff members do when they go on vacation? One of our education programmers, who is a military history enthusiast, went to visit some World War sites in Europe. This blog is the second part of his personal account of what it meant to him.
Menin Gate Memorial. Ypres Cloth Hall in the background.
In Ieper, we observed the “Last Post” ceremony at the magnificent Menin Gate Memorial, and visited the “In Flander’s Fields” Museum at the Cloth Hall.  At the Menin Gate, I was again awed by the number of names; all men with no known grave.  I even found a ‘Toomey’ among the dead.  After Ieper, we visited Passchendaele and St. Julian, two battles in which Canadians played major roles.  The St. Julian Memorial is known as the ‘brooding soldier.’  The top of the obelisk is carved as the head of a Canadian soldier, head bowed, eyes cast down: a permanent honour guard for Canada’s fallen of the Great War. 

St. Julian Memorial
We also visited Tyne Cot Commonwealth Cemetery, the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the world.  One of Canada’s Victoria Cross recipients of the First War is buried at Tyne Cot.  At this cemetery, the Cross of Sacrifice is built atop a German bunker: an instrument of war turned into a marker of remembrance.  This was King George V’s idea, actually.  When he visited Tyne Cot in 1922, he said, “In the course of my pilgrimage, I have many times asked myself whether there can be more potent advocates of peace upon earth… than this massed multitude of silent witnesses to the destruction of war.”

Canadian Victoria Cross recipient at Tyne Cot Cemetery
We then journeyed to France.  We stayed in Arras, site of fighting in both Wars.  From Arras, we visited one of the most significant Canadian historic sites: Vimy Ridge.

Vimy Ridge viewed from across farm field
Being at Vimy Ridge is like being on holy ground.  The vastness of the park, the immensity of the memorial, the statues, inscriptions, and thousands of names, all created an intensely emotional experience.  The names on the Vimy Ridge Memorial are those of men with no known graves.  Not far from the Vimy Memorial, you can still see the craters upon craters, testament to the great artillery barrages the soldiers would have faced.  Fences prevent people from crossing into these areas, and signs warn of unexploded ordnance; weapons of a war nearly 100 years in the past but still just as potentially deadly today. 

Roy at Vimy Ridge
On the Vimy Memorial, I was able to locate and photograph the names of three men from St. Albert: Moise “Moses” Beausoleil, John Hugh Kennedy, and Clarence Harrold Maloney.

Moise “Moses” Beausoleil
John Hugh Kennedy (1889 - 1917)
Service men with girls, ca. 1914. John Kennedy's younger brother, Dan, is seated to the far right. Both were killed during World War I.
Clarence Harrold Maloney (1894 - 1916)
Maloney family farmstead in St. Albert, [ca. 1900 - 1915].
Hopefully these pictures will help to tell the story of St. Albert’s sons who never came home from the First World War.  Besides the memorial, the preserved trenches and tunnels at Vimy are some of the best anywhere.  While at Vimy, we ran into several Canadian high school classes on field trips.  It’s good to know that our teachers still educate their students about Canada’s role in the World Wars, the importance of these events to our history, and the sacrifices made by those thousands of Canadians.

Please check in with the Musée Héritage Museum’s blog later this week to read about our trip to the World War II sites in Normandy, France, and the conclusion of our pilgrimage of Remembrance. You can check out the first part of the blog at Pilgrimage of Remembrance, 2013 – Part I.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pilgrimage of Remembrance, 2013 – Part I by Roy Toomey

So what do museum staff members do when they go on vacation? One of our education programmers, who is a military history enthusiast, went to visit some World War sites in Europe. This blog is his personal account of what it meant to him.

I have always had an interest in, and deep passion for, Canada’s military past.  A big part of this passion stems from my grandfather’s nearly 30-year career in the Canadian Army (Signals Corps).  His service in Europe in World War II was one of the main reasons I fell in love with this subject, as it gave me a personal connection to it. 

As I grew older, I came to appreciate how vital Canada’s military history is to the history of our country in general.  Many of the events Canadians participated in and witnessed during two World Wars helped to shape Canada into the country it is today.  

Before going on this trip, I had worked with our curator, Joanne White, to create a database of soldiers from the St. Albert area that served in World War I and when Dan and I were planning for this trip, I felt that as a member of the museum staff, I should try to do some research for the museum while in Europe.  In the course of my research, I found that three of the men from St. Albert that died in the First World War were commemorated on the Vimy Ridge Memorial.  As such, I made certain to take the time to find their names and photograph them while at Vimy.  I will cover this in another post later on.

In June of this year, my friend Dan and I embarked on a nine day pilgrimage to visit the Canadian battlefield, memorials, and cemeteries of both World Wars.  Over the next weeks leading up to Remembrance Day, I will share our travels with you.
Dan and Roy on the ferry to Calais, France. White Cliffs of Dover in the background.
After flying to London, England, Dan and I traveled to Dover.  From there we took a ferry to Calais, France.  We took the ferry in order to experience what it was like to cross the English Channel in a boat, as our soldiers would have.  In Calais, we rented a car, and took off across France and Belgium.  Our first stop was Dunkerque, France, site of the famous Dunkirk evacuations at the beginning of World War II.  An old church in the centre of town remains scarred by gunfire to this day: a reminder of the destruction of war.
Old church in Dunkerque, France. Bullet holes can be seen to the lower right.
After Dunkirk, we drove to Ieper, Belgium (Ypres). Ypres witnessed some of the bloodiest battles of the First World War.  We stayed at an old manor house, at Hooge, Belgium, with preserved trenches, a bunker, and rusty wartime artefacts right in the backyard.  The Hooge Commonwealth Cemetery was my first experience with a military cemetery in Europe.  We weren’t prepared for how emotional an experience it was.  The number of graves, the names and ages of the men, the number of unknown soldiers (‘Known Unto God’), and the epitaphs all spoke to the tragedy of war.  Of the hundreds of epitaphs I would read, the one that always haunts me is this simple, loving phrase: “A Good Son.”
Hooge Commonwealth Cemetery
Please visit the Musée Héritage Museum’s blog next week for Part II of our pilgrimage, where I discuss the rest of our time in Belgium, and our visit to one of the holiest of Canadian historic sites: Vimy Ridge.  This entry will also cover the St. Albert connection to Vimy Ridge.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Take Your Best Shot: Youth Digital Photo Contest 2013

Musée Héritage Museum would like to invite all youth to participate in the third annual Take Your Best Shot photo contest. The theme for this year is "Playing around St. Albert". Photo entries will be divided into three groups: Grades 3-6, Grades 7-9, and Grades 10-12.

Winning photographs will be displayed at Musée Héritage Museum, with a special reception and prize reception held on Friday, November 29. Please visit the museum's website at Musée Heritage - Take Your Best Shot to get more details about the contest rules and deadline dates.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Harvest Festival Closes Out the Summer Season

This year Harvest Festival, at the St. Albert Grain Elevator (SAGE) Park, took place on Sunday, September 15. It was a beautiful day, if a bit windy, and visitors came out in droves to enjoy the last few days of summer. We had a number of activities to partake in, including entertainment by Trevor Tchir, Steven Badach and Michelle Sabourin, who played great music all afternoon, including a number of requests (which included "If You're Happy and You Know It").

Trevor Tchir, Steve Badach and Michelle Sabourin kicked off the festival with a great array of music

ELF Stockdogs wow the crowd with a sheep herding demonstration by a blind dog

Longriders provided the very popular horse-drawn wagon rides

We also had demonstrations by ELF Stockdogs, who brought a herd of sheep (including a wily lamb) and a few herding dogs. The crowd was amazed by what the dogs could do; it was especially heartening to watch their blind dog, who herded with the best of them!

Longriders also came out to provide horse-drawn wagon rides. The rides were very popular with visitors of all ages; we had a line up "down the block" (of crops, that is).

The St. Albert Quilting worked together in the train station

The Edmonton Weavers Guild showcase spinning and weaving

Artist Samantha Williams-Chapelsky shows off her work

"Patchwork Pieces" by Sharon Monk

Crafters came out by the dozens to watch demonstrations of spinning and weaving by the Edmonton Weavers Guild, and even had the chance to try it out themselves! The same was true of the St. Albert Quilters Guild, who demonstrated the art of quilting. Visitors also had the chance to see artwork by Samantha Williams-Chapelsky, and sign their name on a commemorative painting. Sharon Monk of Patchwork Pieces also had a number of beautifully made quilts for show and sale.

Adults had the opportunity to sample beer from local brewery Alley Kat

Kathleen and a team of volunteers served hot dogs to hungry festival-goers

Hungry (and thirsty) festival-goers headed over to Kathleen and her team of volunteers to buy hot dogs, chips and pop or water. Other options included delicious kettle corn from KGW Enterprises, and homemade gelato from Cravings Artisan Gelato (not pictured). Adults had the opportunity to sample beer from local brewery Alley Kat.

Kids partook in harvest-themed crafts, led by volunteers

A volunteer helps a visitor count their scavenger hunt items

We also had a number of "hands on" activities for kids, including making their own harvest sheave to take home (pictured above), "Ewe'r Such a Lamb" hats, and decorating their own muslin bags to keep! The bags were also used for a scavenger hunt around the site, which took participants to every corner of the park looking for special items on the list. Those who completed the scavenger hunt got an old-fashioned candy stick to enjoy (yum!).

Visitors, helped by Gord, check out our Model T

Roy gives visitors a tour of the silver elevator

Lastly, visitors had the chance to interact with our Model T, assisted by Gord, taking photos in it or just looking around. We also had tours of the grain elevators, which were given by Roy (above), Sydney (not pictured), and our new Director, Shari (not pictured).

We would like to thank everyone who came out this year for Harvest Festival, making it once again a great success! We hope to see you again next year.