Monday, April 28, 2014

The Musée archives special connection to the recently canonized Pope John Paul II

On April 27, 2014 at St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Pope Francis declared Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II saints during a historic canonization ceremony. It was an unprecedented ceremony since it was "the first time a current and a retired pope [Pope Benedict XVI] have celebrated Mass together in public in the 2,000-year history of the church" (National Post: The day of four popes).

The Musée Héritage Museum has information to share about one of these popes. In our archival holdings are photographs from the Edmonton, Alberta portion of Pope John Paul II's papal visit to Canada in September of 1984, including the Papal Mass.

Some people may wonder how a museum in St. Albert, Alberta ended up with photos from this significant event. The answer to that question has to do with a local photographer, Victor Post.
Victor Post with his camera, [ca. 197-]. Victor Post fonds, 2012.02
Victor Post was a prominent photographer based out of St. Albert. He was also an official photographer for the province of Alberta. His photographs and records were donated to the Musée by his wife Kathy Post in 2012. These records are found under the Victor Post fonds. Among these photographs are his commissioned works for Alberta, which includes the papal visit in 1984.

The portion relating to the Pope's visit includes photos of many events attended by Pope John Paul II, Victor Post's press badge, and itineraries for the papal visit to Alberta and Canada. There are also photos from a not so well known stopover by the Pope in September 1987. In his first tour, Pope John Paul II was unable to visit Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories due to bad weather. He promised to return, so on his American Tour in 1987, he found time to visit Fort Simpson. The photos in our archives show his arrival and departure from Edmonton, where he stayed one night. He was greeted by Premier Don Getty and other dignitaries.

The Victor Post fonds consists of a variety of photographs and includes royal visits, mountain landscapes, the Calgary Olympics, the oil industry, Alberta and local St. Albert history, and much more. Please contact the archivist at the Musée Héritage Museum to learn more about this extraordinary photographer or to view the photos Victor Post took throughout Alberta, including those from the papal visit.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sharon's excursion to the Glenbow to learn more about the care of artifacts

Sharon Morin discusses her professional development course at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta.
I am very fortunate to be the Program Manager at the Musée Héritage Museum. I have been encouraged from our Directors all the way up to the Board level to expand and grow my skills and knowledge in all capacities.

My latest opportunity was to go to the Glenbow for a 2 day course on Care of Artifacts in Aboriginal Cultural Centres, offered by the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI). Now I know to some people this might sound a little dry but our presenters Janet Mason and Elisabeth Joy made these two days interactive, informative and thoughtful with some humor and fun thrown in. Both were personal, organized, seasoned and prepared.  They brought all types of objects for us to analyze. Objects like a 1890’s photo album, a little girls pink sock, a pair of Inuit Kimmuks and a Javanese Shadow Puppet to name a few. We were challenged to figure out why the objects were deteriorating, how to store, prevent, stop and sometimes restore if necessary.
Unit 1, page 1 of the workshop booklet, "Care of Artifacts in Aboriginal Cultural Centres", produced by the CCI.

At the Musée my primary focus has been in developing both Educational and Public programs, giving our collection and heritage buildings a voice. This 2 day workshop has expanded my knowledge of the roles that our Curator Joanne and our Collection Assistant Kathleen have at the Musée. I know some of the work that goes into the development of the exhibits, such as the need to have a clear path to our artifacts and some basic knowledge about proper storage. I thought I knew a lot, but I really had no idea of the attention to detail that is given so that future generations can appreciate and have the complete story of the artifacts in our collection.
Sharon Morin

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

St. Albert 50+ Club gets ahold of archival materials at the Musée

Roy, education programmer at the Musée Héritage Museum, recently visited the St. Albert 50+ Club and shared some of the Musée's archival materials on the St. Albert Women's Institute.

Norah Rouault, Lorraine Moore, and Marguerite Dalman looking at archival materials

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting with longtime members of the St. Albert Women’s Institute, and the St. Albert 50+ Club.  What prompted this meeting was a request to our archivist, Vino, for scrapbook pages created by Women’s Institute member Marguerite Dalman in the 1970s.  These pages contain newspaper articles, photos, and other items pertaining to the Women’s Institute, and its founding of the St. Albert Seniors’ Club, from 1973 to 1975.

The 50+ Club will celebrate its 40th anniversary soon, and they are working on a book detailing the club’s history over the past forty years.  The Women’s Institute was the driving force behind the original St. Albert Seniors’ Club, which became the 50+ Club over time. 

It was the Women’s Institute that started gathering the funding and support for the Seniors’ Club; and Women’s Institute members, as well as their husbands, friends, and relations, were largely responsible for the construction of the building.  According to the ladies, the original rectangular building still stands, but is unrecognizable now, due to various additions to the building.

At the 50+ Club, I met with Norah Rouault, Marguerite Dalman, and Lorraine Moore, all longtime members of the Women’s Institute, and three of the women responsible for the founding of the Seniors’ Club; and Yvonne Bull, a member of the 50+ Club, and one of the members that is leading the creation of the upcoming book.

I passed around the pages of the scrapbook, treating each page with the care that historic documents require; Marguerite, Lorraine, and Norah pored over the material, sharing interesting and emotional stories about that time; and Yvonne diligently took down notes.  It was interesting to hear about how much of a struggle it was for the ladies’ organization to be taken seriously at that time, and to begin and complete the Seniors’ Club.

The reason for the founding of the Seniors’ Club was that Women’s Institute Members were tired of their elderly parents, and other senior citizens, having to use the Community Hall, which had no storage for the seniors’ things.  They would have to pack boxes into the hall, and then back out of the hall, every time they had a gathering.  Marguerite, Lorraine, and Norah wanted local senior citizens to have a place of their own!  They worked hard to found the Seniors’ Club, and forty years later, the place is still going strong.
Yvonne Bull
As an employee of the Musée Héritage Museum, it’s really a pleasure to be able to meet wonderful members of the community, like these ladies.  While I went as “keeper” of the archival materials, to ensure it was taken care of, it was really me that learned at that meeting.  Local stories, told by the people who experienced the events, are so important to our past.  It’s those stories that really make up our local history, and it’s the storytellers that help to add spice to that history!

Roy Toomey

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Musée Héritage out in the Community

Whenever we get the opportunity to go out into the community we jump at it. We took that opportunity in February and March to share with a number of groups.  Below are the highlights of a couple of outreach programs.

February 28 was Father Lacombe’s birthday and we were invited to Father Lacombe School in Lacombe, Alberta to share the history of Father Lacombe and the St. Albert mission.

We spent the day meeting with students from grades 1 to 9 and teaching them about Father Lacombe’s interaction with the First Nation and the Métis of the area including all of the great things that he did and the people that he touched throughout his life in Alberta.

It was a great day and we are looking forward to going back next year to celebrate his birthday again with the staff and students in Lacombe!

On March 6th, we were invited by the Creating Hope Society to participate in their Aboriginal Youth Career Fair at Eastglen School in Edmonton, Alberta to set up a display and have a craft of some kind that would showcase Aboriginal culture. So of course we took the Finger Weaving activity.

It is always good for me to get out and see everyone that I don’t always get to see while working in the Musée. Other cultural representation included Bryce Morison from St. Albert. First Nation performer Mark McKennit (Dancing Fox Spirit), also from St. Albert, Darrell Joe, and Chayla were also there in their First Nation regalia.
Program Manager Sharon Morin with Bryce at the Creating Hope Aboriginal Youth Career Fair
There were booths from the Dept. of Defenses’ Bold Eagle program, Edmonton City Police, Rupert Land Institute and the Belcourt Brousseau Métis scholarship program to name a few.

Look for us out in the community, you never know when you will see us.

Sharon Morin

Thursday, April 10, 2014

National Volunteer Week 2014

Appreciation night at the Musée
April 6-12, 2014 is National Volunteer Week. This is a time to recognize the over 13 million volunteers in Canada.

The Arts and Heritage Foundation of St. Albert, which includes the Musée Héritage Museum and Art Gallery of St. Albert, was proud to attend the Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon at the St. Albert Alliance Church on April 8, 2014. The luncheon was hosted by the St. Albert Community Information and Volunteer Centre and we were happy to have our volunteers join us at our table, along with the many other volunteers who contribute their time and energy to volunteering throughout our community.

Special guests at the event included 2-time Olympic hockey gold medalist, Meaghan Mikkelson, Alberta Minister of Culture, Heather Kilmchuk, and St. Albert Mayor, Nolan Crouse.  Katie Fitzgeral, a local Grade 11 student at Paul Kane High School, performed as well.  She is one of six outstanding volunteers who was recently recognized by the Alberta government and received a 2013 Stars of Alberta award.

The Musée Héritage Museum also hosted a special membership and volunteer appreciation night event on March 28, to honour the people that help out at all the locations managed by the Arts and Heritage Foundation. The event included a sneak peak at our new exhibit, Hands on Nature, hands on activities, as well as a special behind the scenes tour of our archives and collections.

Membership and Volunteer Appreciation night at the Musée

We at the museum would like to extend our thanks to all the volunteers who help us in many different capacities. The great thing about volunteers is that they give their time because they want to give back to the community and we are truly grateful to the ones who work with us. The recent volunteer events we planned or attended were one way for us to show that all of their work is much appreciated!

Thank you volunteers!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Staff Profile: Featuring Jean-Philippe Stienne

Continuing with our staff profiles is one of our newest additions, Jean-Philippe Stienne (JP to all of us).

JP helping out during last year's Harvest Festival at the St. Albert Grain Elevator Park

The last year has been an exciting one for me and my family. This time last year we were about to embark on what we have called the Great Canadian Adventure. My wife had been offered a job as an Environmental Scientist in Edmonton and as we had always liked the idea of living abroad. So we decided to ‘up sticks’ and move from Yorkshire, England to see what the Alberta lifestyle had to offer. 

In between entertaining my two girls and visits to the Rockies, I have also been fortunate enough to continue my career as a museum professional with the Musée Héritage Museum. A visit to the museum with my girls during the International Children’s Festival led on to volunteer projects and then to a project to develop a new and improved collections management database. 

Collections management databases hold collections information. Museums use these databases as a tool to record and find information such as descriptive details, object histories, location information and images. This information is very important to all museums. For example, it is very useful to a curator looking for objects to put in an exhibition, a researcher wanting to know more about the history of an object or objects or a programmer looking to relate a program to objects in the collection. In the past a museum may have used a library card style system to record this documentation system. Now most museums use a collections database.

In my time in England I worked in a variety of collections based roles at The Wordsworth Museum, Hartlepool Museums and most recently The National Coal Mining Museum. I have drawn on this experience and worked alongside other museum staff members to try and deliver a database that meets the requirements of the museum. I am presently working with program designers to create a database that uses a collections management software called This software is used by many museums across North America. 

Preview of the early stages of the Musée's database.
One of the advantages of over our previous database is the fact that offers a public portal to the database through the Internet. Therefore, and hopefully soon, we will all be able to access images and object details of this fascinating collection with the click of a button.