Wednesday, February 26, 2014

CBC's Ron MacLean gives a shout out to St. Albert's Hec Gervais

Amidst the great results of our Canadian Olympians during the 2014 Winter Olympics, the contribution of a St. Albert, Alberta curling great was not lost on Ron MacLean and the CBC. During prime time Olympic coverage Ron MacLean made mention of Hec Gervais as a pioneer of curling.

A lot of people across the country watching the show may not know that Hec Gervais, known as "The Friendly Giant", was born and raised in the St. Albert area. Gervais spent a lifetime farming in the St. Albert area and also became a legendary figure in curling.

Armand Gervais and son Hector Gervais, 1948

Gervais was born in 1933 and started curling competitively in 1950. He also played junior football and hockey in the 1950s. It was in curling, however, where he found his fame. His fabulous career would lead him to be inducted into the Curling Hall of Fame in 1975. Some of his accomplishments in curling include competing in 10 provincial championships, winning four of them. His teams also won the Brier in 1961 and 1974. In 1961 he was the skip of a team that won the Scotch Cup held in Scotland, emblematic of the World Championship.

Hector Gervais, Ray Werner, Ron Anton, and Wally Ursuliak. World Champions in 1961. Photo courtesy of Helen Gervais.

Gervais would continue to make St. Albert his home. He helped develop the St. Albert Curling Club and the Friendly Giant lounge in the curling club is named in his honour. Gervais Road is named in his honour as well.

The Musée Héritage Museum received a generous donation from the Gervais family in the 1980s. We hold a number of Hec Gervais' personal materials in our museum collections and archives, such as trophies, sweaters worn during games, plaques, photographs, paintings and other artifacts.

A commissioned caricature of Hec Gervais, 1976.
Please come on down to the museum if you would like to take a look at any of these artifacts of a curling great from St. Albert.

Information for this blog comes from:
Interview of Hec Gervais, conducted by sportscaster Tim Dancy in the 1987 Labatt Brier program.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Family Day weekend recap

On the February long weekend, we celebrated Family Day and Canada’s national Heritage Day with two very special events. On Saturday, February 15 we hosted the The Alberta Quilt Project, and on Monday, February 17 we opened the doors for some fun at the Little White School.

Diane, Lucie, and the Musée's very own curator, Joanne.
The Alberta Quilt Project, a project to document Alberta’s quilting history, is an initiative of the Royal Alberta Museum and is organized by Lucie Heins, Assistant Curator of Western Canadian History. Phase I of the project was to document contemporary quilts and Phase II, now underway, is documenting heritage quilts.

Lucie Heins and Diane Betton
As each quilt arrived at the museum, one of our staff interviewed the owner/quilter to find out its history. Who made it? Where? When? Was it for a special purpose? Once the history was recorded the quilt was then examined. Shari and Joanne, the Musée Héritage Museum's director and curator, were able to help out as Lucie worked with a St. Albert Quilter’s Guild volunteer, Diane Betton, to find out as much as possible about each piece. Quilts were measured and fabrics examined to determine when and how each quilt was made. Patterns were also recorded and the condition noted; we then hung each quilt and photographed it.

The Royal Alberta Museum will be compiling all of the information and photos to be put onto The Quilt Index database which features well over 50 000 quilts from around the world ( The Quilt Index is a partnership of the Michigan State University Museum, the Alliance for American Quilt and MATRIX: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online. This valuable resource allows quilt owners, quilters, and researchers to access information about their own quilts and the many thousands of others that have been brought together.

On Friday we were able to document the Alberta quilts in the Museums own collection, and on Saturday we invited members of the public to bring in their own quilts. In all we documented 20 quilts that will be added to the database. For more information about the project visit the Royal Alberta Museum’s website:

Tori, the Musée's education programmer, was at the helm at the Little White School.
Family Day Monday was a lovely mild and sunny day, enticing many a family to spend it outside. People from all over St. Albert and area stopped by the Little White School, divulging in our complimentary hot chocolate and cookie snacks while also enjoying the ambiance of the historic schoolhouse. Kids had fun trying their hand at writing on the chalkboard; learning about just how different school was “back then,” and creating beautiful pastel artwork, courtesy of the Art Gallery of St. Albert. We had numerous visitors come in who reminisced about a time when they attended class at the Little White School; even the Mayor stopped by for a visit! By the end of the day everyone had left with a full tummy, a work of art (or two or three), and a new piece of knowledge about St. Albert’s heritage. We would like to thank those who visited us, and hope to see you all in the summertime!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Staff Profile: Featuring Sharon Morin

In the coming weeks, we will be featuring our staff at the Musée Héritage Museum. You will get to know some of the interesting folks who make it possible for us to deliver our programs and services. Staff will be regularly sharing their thoughts and projects at the museum. We hope these features will give some insight into the different personalities, experiences, programs, events, and projects at our museum and heritage sites. This week we begin by featuring Sharon Morin, Program Manager.

Born into a large politically active Métis family of 8, I have spent a lot of time participating in many political and cultural activities and in many ways lived a traditional Métis life. After finishing school and taking various business courses I worked at Métis Urban Housing. 

I am married, have 4 handsome sons with my husband of 25 years and we now have 3 grandchildren! 

Volunteering my time and working with retired Senator Thelma Chalifoux, we started the Michif Cultural and Resource Institute in historical St. Albert.  Located in a historic house we refer to  this special place as a Métis Living Museum and Resource Center and invite people in to learn more about the Métis in St. Albert and Alberta. 

Initially I volunteered at the museum developing and leading programs and seven years was the Lead Aboriginal Programmer at the museum developing curriculum related aboriginal programs for all ages. Currently I am the Program Manager for the Musée Héritage Museum and Heritage Sites. 

During the week our department offers education programs for school children which I coordinate and manage. Students and teachers arrive daily at the museum where we average about 600-700 children a month. All the programs are linked to the Alberta curriculum and encourage sensitivity and cultural awareness. Each program incorporates activities, a craft project where we strive to have elements of the traditional teachings within the whole program.

Community programming is also part of my job and often occurs on weekends and evenings. This includes Brownie and Cub programs, tours for Seniors and speaking with local clubs and at school assemblies.  

I am the Past President of the Aboriginal Women’s Professional Association, co founder and Board President of the Michif Cultural and Resource Institute, community member on the St. Albert National Aboriginal Day committee and was on the steering committee for the St. Albert Founders Walk working on a 150th anniversary legacy project for the City of St. Albert. In 2013 I was nominated, and received the Edmonton Fierce Award in the category of Empowerment.

Ekosi Maka

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Family Day at the Little White School

Mission Park, 1978.

On Monday, February 17th, the Little White School will be open for a Family Day celebration!  If you’re sledding on Seven Hills, come in out of the cold and enjoy some hot chocolate and cookies. 
View of Mission Hill with children on bleachers, Nov. 1981.
Come visit the historic 1948 classroom, where Musée Heritage Museum programmers will teach visitors about the old-fashioned rules and discipline of school “back then.”  Take part in classroom lessons like arithmetic, a spelling-bee, story-time, and make a craft to remember your visit to the Little White School.
Little White School classroom, ca. 1987.
In our other classroom, staff from the Art Gallery of St. Albert will be hosting a special “Pastels with Pizzazz” program, where visitors will learn how to create vibrant art using pastels on black paper.

Bathrooms are also available on-site.  Admission is by donation.  We hope to see you at the Little White School for Family Day!