Lament of a Lonely Collections Manager

All my summer students are gone for the year. Not that I don’t enjoy working with the other staff, but it sure is quiet around here…
This blog was set up by “my” summer students, as I affectionately call them. I really enjoyed working with these ladies. I am the collections manager around here, and I was their immediate supervisor. Of course, I have my own supervisor, so I hope that between us, we were able to provide the students with some new valuable skills. Although I was the one that kept pushing for a blog this last year, the technology was all new to me. It didn’t take the students very long to familiarize themselves with this whole thing and set it all up, though. I suppose I will have to try my best to upkeep this blog so that it can be used by next year’s students, too… Anyhow, the point I am trying to make is that they taught us just as much as we taught them. People tend to think that summer students come to a position to learn skills and gain something valuable to put on their resumes, but that is a one-sided view. One mustn’t forget the valuable skills that they bring to the employer. Each student that walked through our door this year brought their unique personalities with them. It has been my pleasure to learn from them to the same degree as they have learned from us.
Each person in this world will have a different take on one topic. Most of the time, we try to fit in, be alike, because that’s the best way to get along, or even get ahead. Occasionally, however, it is beneficial to focus on the things that make us individuals. At MSAMS we have tried to bring out the differences in the students. We were fortunate to be able to work with a group of students that had very diverse backgrounds, interests and skill sets. Between them, they spoke five different languages. Each student was studying a different subject at school. Vineet wants to become a doctor, while Cassandra wants her career to be in geography! Each student was uniquely connected within their own community, and so, each student could provide us here at the museum with new contacts to groups that we had never come into contact with before, and they made suggestions of groups that we would otherwise never have thought to contact. These new contacts were happy to participate in a variety of ways form volunteering to performing at events.
These differences that the girls brought were put to use in updating our educational kits. The kits consist of objects that have been donated or purchased by the staff, photographs and other ephemera along with historic research, lesson plans, interviews and so on. These kits can be rented by teachers, scout leaders or other persons interested in teaching children about history and heritage. The idea is that children can “touch and feel” the objects and photographs to enhance the learning experience. Since we at the museum wanted to update the existing kits, I asked the girls to contribute something to a given kit. I gave them basic guidelines of what I wanted, provided them with some basic tools and told them that these kits were their kits. I wanted each kit to have a unique flavour of whoever put them together. That way, more than one person can contribute to the same kit, as each person will have a different take on the same subject. For example, Vineet and Linda worked on the same kit, but chose two completely different topics.
The girls went all out with the idea of the kits. At the end of the summer, I now have three truly spectacular kits to add to the already existing ones, and three more are on the way. The experience was so successful that I have expanded the group of contributors to include our volunteers. We are still collecting historical objects that we can use in them, so if you, Dear Reader, would like to contribute something to them, either an object or a write up, here is your chance. Just contact me at the museum and I will make arrangements to have this happen!

Celebrating Arts and Heritage in Mill Lake Park August 28th and 29th.

As most of you are aware, Abbotsford and the Fraser Valley are homes to many different cultures and religous groups and most of these groups share their culture with amazing arts, dances and music.

The MSA Museum and the Abbotsford Arts Council are happy to be hosting the Arts and Heritage Unity Festival at Kariton House at 2387 Ware Street.

Come learn about the varying culture groups in an open environment. Have you ever wondered the tradition behind the Sikh turban or the Kirpan? The Shan E Khalsa Gurmat Academy would be happy to explain it to you! We will also have representatives from the Muslim Mosque explaining Ramadan, Xay:tem longhouse sharing cedar bracelet making, The Abbotsford Genealogical society teaching the importance of a family tree and so much more!

Local musicians will light up the stage, from country, to solo guitar and traditional Indian instruments.
Sun hang do will be there to show you how to kick some butt, with a korean twist.

Come learn bhangra, weaving, wool dying, henna and rangoli in our demonstration tent for a hands on look at these beautiful traditionals that make Abbotsford and the Fraser Valley such a strong, blended community.

Let education bridge cultural gaps in a fun, interactive outdoor environment!
Saturday 11AM-8PM
Sunday 11AM-4PM


The prints from the CPR Magic Lantern Exhibit!


Just in case you guys haven’t heard. The Trethewey House is hosting an exhibit known as the Prints from the CPR Magic Lantern. I spent all of last week organizing our heritage home, preparing it for 50 large prints. I got the opportunity to hang the artwork myself, with the help of fellow student Pam. What a hard job when you consider that we cannot put any nails into our plaster walls from 1920! Thank goodness for J.O. Trethewey’s extensive use of picture rails throughout the house (and Reta Trethewey for demanding it!).

These blown up digital prints were created by local artist Micheal Lawlor and will be dipslayed in our heritage home from August 15th to October 20th, 2010.

These prints were blown up from hand painted slides that were usually smaller than a 4X6 standard photograph (!!). These meticulously detailed slides were backlit by candlelight and shown to people worldwide hoping to evoke interest in settling in Canada.
All of the scenes and locations showcased were able to be seen or accessed via stops along the Canadian Pacific Railway. There’s a stop specfically in Abbotsford!

Stop by between 9am-12pm and 1pm-5pm every day for a tour of our heritage home and to take a look at visions seen from the National railway that shapped our beautiful city in the country!!


Day camps and Agrifair

Hello everyone. Last week was our first week of day camps and it was a success! Even though we only had four children, each day was educational and fun-filled. The kids enjoyed every activity that we had planned, although Tomb Raiders on Egyptian day seemed to be the most popular. The kids wrapped us (the leaders) up in toilet paper and tried to steal the “treasure” that the mummies were guarding in the gazebo. Even though I tried my hardest to catch the tomb raiders, they still beat the mummies every time! I feel as though the kids learned a lot each day, especially on Heritage day, when we gave them a tour of Trethewey house and concluded with a scavenger hunt. The children left MSA Museum with much more understanding on what every day life was like in 1920s Abbotsford.
photo cred: Pam
From July 29th to August 2nd, the MSA Museum had a booth at the 100th annual Abbotsford Agrifair & Rodeo. We were able to promote our upcoming exhibit– Prints from the CPR Magic Lantern Slides (1885-1930) which will be on display at the Trethewey house from August 15th to October 20th. We were also able to tell people about our fall programming, which includes the free and family friendly Autumn Light Festival. This event aims to bring the community and families together while celebrating the wonderful tradition of light festivals. The summer students are lucky enough to be planning this event, but unfortunately we will not be around to see it come to fruition as we will all be returning to our respective universities for the fall.

We are also still working on our educational kits and are aiming to have them done by the time the new school year rolls around. Elementary school teachers will get to choose from a variety of kits, including but not limited to: School Days (what school was like for children in the 1800s), Crossing the Pacific (the story of Sikh, Chinese and Japanese immigrants to Canada), Outlaws and Heroes (self-explanatory). Thanks for reading and hope to see you here at the museum one of these days!


Outlaws and Heros

Hey Everyone!

Lately, I’ve been doing lots of research for an educational school kit for children called Outlaws and Heros! This kit is going to be all about the pioneer era, focusing on a few infamous outlaws of the Wild West, some of whom, like Billy Miner, actually lived in B.C. in their lifetimes. Before this kit, I had never really been a Wild West fan, but what I’ve learned so far has really changed my mind. The exciting lives of these Western outlaws bring up countless important historical questions about the societies they lived in and the events that influenced their actions. Questions such as, who were these people? What brought them to break the law? What was the law system in the U.S. like in the late 1800s and early 1900s? How is it comparable to the justice system both the U.S. and Canada have now? How did the invention of trains effect their lives? What about the Gold Rush? How did the police force try and stop the crime? And of course, how did all these elements effect this area of the lower mainland? Those are only a few of the questions I will be answering in the school kit and the information will come with fun props and pictures to further illustrate what it would have been like to have lived in the pioneer era. If you have any information that you think would be fun for kids about the Wild West, the RCMP, or trains, I’d love to hear it!

Friday, I got the chance to look through old magazines and books from the early to mid 1900s. Some of them were even from the 1920s! I love looking through old literature to see what people thought, what people liked and what was in style almost 90 years ago. It’s neat to think that while some things have changed, many things have definitely stayed the same!

Don’t forget to sign your children up for a week-long MSA Museum summer camp! Everyday is a super fun but still educational theme! The dates are: July 26-30, August 9-13 and August 23-27. The camps are for kids who are 6-10 years old. It is $75 for the week, and only $65 if you are signing up two or more kids!


Heritage Site Office Hours
Monday-Friday: 9:00am-5:00pm
(Closed for lunch 12pm-1pm)

Trethewey House Tours:
Monday-Friday: 1:00pm - 4:00pm