Wednesday, 29 September 2010

9 months.....

9 months feels like a long time when someone is pregnant! I am sure the women out there would agree that from the first moment you find out you are pregnant to the first moment you hold your babe, it is a long LONG wait.

Well 9 months feels just as long when it is the length of time spent planning an event, but I finally got to "hold my babe" this past Sunday, when the event day came, and went, and with much success from all the feedback I have received.

This event was the Galt babies party and Centennial celebration event of our building - we also invited the whole community because it was a centennial celebration and because we had a new exhibit - this saved our community programmer and curator from planning programs around the new exhibit opening since I was already going to be doing an event, and they could thus focus their energies on other matters.

We sent out about 1100 invitations to Galt Babies, all over the world! We also sent out invitations to our members, volunteers, and those involved with the exhibit. We put posters up and advertised in the Leisure Guide and other public places so the public would know they were welcome, too.

Over 9 months I had a wonderful committee who met very frequently, weekly at least for the last few months and bi-weekly before that. This committee helped shape the event, spending the first few months brainstorming and looking into what was possible and what was not. Once we had a HUGE list of ideas of things we wanted, I first met with the curator to see how this could all fit in with her having a few speakers at the exhibit opening, and the community programmer to see how much of this we could do with her supplies on hand. Then I took it to the staff and got some feedback from them.

We started with what felt like 100 ideas and in the end only used a small number of them because, well, with only one staff and a crew of volunteers, we could only manage so much planning, but also because many of our activities would have been outside and Lethbridge has had the rainiest, coldest summer I have ever seen and it seemed too risky to put so many eggs into that basket.

But we did it - we managed - we pulled it off! And though, of course, there were things that could have been better, ie I'd have loved to have a stage but we had no place to store it on Friday and Saturday, so our performers were on the floor level with the seated guests); we could have emphasized to the public that they were welcome - as it was, almost everyone there was a Galt Baby and/or a guest of a Galt Baby; etc.....we still heard so much excitement about the rides in the streetcar that the Lethbridge Exhibition sponsored that day, and everyone loved the reenactment of the 1910 opening with 2 actors (Charlie Christensen played Mr Naismith, ViceChair of the Board of the Hospital; Duane Petluk played Prime Minister Laurier) and the found key (found by Ray Waddle) story. I have to thank Kevin Poupart, former Katimavik volunteer with the Galt, for the key idea!

And one of the most wonderful parts of the day took place a few days after the event.....Haraga Jewelry made a beautiful silver bracelet and engraved in it "Galt Centennial 2010" and gave it to us as a donation to giveaway. I got to call the winner of the bracelet and she was so excited she almost started to cry on the phone. She couldn't believe she had won. She told me how much fun she had had on Sunday and how much she loves the Galt and how special and treasured this bracelet would be. I was so glad it was going to be cherished by her as it was by me, when I first saw this wonderful donation.

Today our community programmer pulled me aside during the senior's program and said to me "the bracelet winner is here" and pointed her out. She had come to pick up her bracelet and stayed for the senior's program that we run on Wednesday afternoons. I went to introduce myself to her as the person who called her and she almost started to cry again, and apparently she had cried at the front desk when she came to claim her prize.

To be a part of an event that allows me to talk to one person who shares, through her stories and her passion and her emotion how much we mean to her, is fantastic. To hear this woman thank me for the work that I did, along with my volunteer committee, over the last 9 months, makes the long LONG wait of starting the planning to seeing my event/babe be born, makes every stressful meeting/email/phone call and all the sleepless nights and countless hours of working odd hours....things to appreciate! Like seeing your babe for the first time, I can smile now after meeting this women today and nod my head and think "yes, it was worth it" as I forgot all the "pain" associated with the last 9 months.

Thank you to my wonderful volunteer committee and to all of those who attended the event - I hope many of you feel the same way that this woman does and I look forward to hosting another Galt Babies event in the near future (hoping for summer 2011!)

Friday, 24 September 2010

Do you have a black bear I can borrow?

I'm serious. I really do need a black bear (not a live one but one to display in an exhibit). In 1912, as part of the development of Henderson Park, a zoo was built here in Lethbridge. It was HUGE -- two black bears and one eagle. The zoo only ran for a few years and was closed due to money problems. The picture here (Galt Archives 19760219024) shows one of the bears in its enclosure.

For the exhibit I'm curating on Lethbridge 1906-1913, we think we'll recreate part of the zoo and would like to have a black bear to go with it. We actually have a few leads on where to borrow one but if you have ideas, let us know. The zoo really gives a sense of how people of that time thought and gives an idea of how they saw Henderson Park.

The zoo and other visuals and objects we have also create a connection to the Dry Farming Conference of 1912 which was one of Lethbridge's great successes from that time period. Now if only I can find a Rumely Tractor. [The first prize given at the conference (and won by a southern Alberta farmer) was a Rumely Tractor.] And figure out a way to get it into the building. (I haven't given up on it yet.)

We also want to have a really immersive part of the exhibit so are creating what we are calling an Interactive Parlour. We're working with the Lethbridge Community Band to find and get music from the time period. We have books (textbooks and others) from the time period that people can look through. We have Christmas cards from the time period. But we're still looking for more items. If you were to walk into an area on an exhibit 1906-1913 called an Interactive Parlour, what would you expect and want to find there?

We're also hoping to create an area in the exhibit on historic buildings with information on those still remaining and an area of ruins of buildings we've lost. Think of ruins from Greece and Italy -- but how to recreate that in a small space and with our lost buildings? So many ideas. So few months to create it all. So back to work I go.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Colour Me History

I love to colour. And I particularly love to colour outside the lines (or even draw my own lines when I think that will look better).

So as I was thinking about how to "layer" things for my exhibit (provide information in various ways for those who like in-depth material but not bore those who just want a little bit of catchy information), I was lucky enough to visit the Lewis and Clarke Interpretive Centre in Great Falls and got from them a very cool idea. On the Saturday we visited they had in the centre two Newfoundland dogs. This allowed them to talk about the Newfoundland Dog (Seaman) who was on the expedition. With the dogs were a bunch of handouts and information -- on the breed, on Seaman's adventures, and more, there was also colouring pages of Newfoundland dogs.

Eureka! I had an idea (and, yes, I do have them on occasion). Why not create colouring pages of events that happened in Lethbridge between 1906 and 1913? Especially on things that kids will find interesting and relevant to them. Anyone who knows me, knows drawing is not one of my strong suits (I NEVER win at games like Pictionary) but we have incredible, awesome, amazing volunteers (I just can't say enough about them)!

We put out a request to volunteers to help with this and got several responses (but if others are also interested, please let us know because we can certainly use a few more). The more we can create for kids, the better. We will draw a set of pictures and at the bottom of each picture will be some historical information for kids and parents. We'll have these pictures available for kids to take home during the exhibit but we'll also have them up on our web-site for people to download and enjoy at home before or after their visit to the museum.

I say I'm doing all of this to make the exhibit more accessible for all age groups. But, really, it's because if we get the pages done, I'll have an excuse to do some colouring. Because, after all, someone is going to have to test to make certain they're good and effective colouring sheets.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Doctors, nurses, and blood...oh my!

Last Friday we celebrated and had fun at our biggest annual fundraiser, our Beer Tasting event! This year we used the theme of medicine as the hospital building that we are in turned 100 this month.

Pacific Wine and Spirits

This was a very fun theme to create from, and easy to do......
  • we of course recommended people come dressed in costume - there were doctors, nurses, patients, and even a "blood" costume (which won our grand prize draw, donated by Mark Anthony Group, of a countertop wine bottle fridge)

Costume Winners

  • we changed all the signage in our building to reflect those you'd see in a hospital

  • we added colored tape to the floor from the entrance, to follow to other parts of the event (ie follow the blue tape to the bar)

  • the band, a local group called DNR, is a group of doctors and nurses, mainly from the emergency room at the Lethbridge hospital - they played some excellent rock music!


  • event bracelets said "Emergency Room" on them and people had to report to triage upon their arrival

  • we offered complimentary samples of Panago's Organic Juices in test tubes

and more!

Girls Night Out Wines

With some amazing sponsors - Davidson and Williams, Quintus Financial (Terry Mah), LA Liquor, Panago Pizza, Days Inn, , , and Pyramid Entertainment


fantastic support from Cremo Cream, Imbibe Magazine, LA Chefs, Lasting Impressions Airbrush Tattoos, Petris Liquor, , Golden Hour First Aid Services, Stage Right home staging, and the Sandman Inn

Big Rock


the silent auction donors such as Bert and Mac's, Custom Creation Gift Baskets, El Dorado RV, Galko Homes, Gas King, Heidelberg Inn, Honkers Pub, Lethbridge Historical Society, Lethbridge Living magazine, Lethbridge Lodge, Pauline Johnston Antiques and Collectibles, Sandman Inn, Spiralz Creations, Stage Right home staging, and Sweet Ideas

Lasting Impressions Airbrush Tattooing

The Crowd

we had our most successful Beer Tasting ever!

Thanks to everyone for supporting the Galt Museum & Archives. We hope you had fun and look forward already to next year's event!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Writing-on-Stone Bus Tour

For the past three years we have been collecting feedback about our bus tour programs and by far the most requested place for us to take a tour was Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park. In August, on our last bus tour of the season, we finally got a chance to go there.
On the drive to Writing-on-Stone our Blackfoot interpreter from the museum, Blanche Bruised Head, talked about Blackfoot history and culture. People on the bus asked lots of insightful questions and I think it really helped prepare people for the next part of the tour: the interpretive walk to see the petroglyphs and pictographs that cover the park's sandstone cliffs.
The petroglyph/pictograph part of the tour was led by Bonnie, a park interpreter. The tour normally takes about 1-1.5 hours, but ours ran a little long giving people lots of time to ask questions. The walk required a park guide because we were in a protected area that is not otherwise open to the public. Some areas in the park are protected to preserve the pictographs and petroglyphs, while other areas of the park are open to the public. There is also a self-guided tour of the area that is a nice 4.4 km (return) walk.
The hoodoos, seen above, were created by wind and water erosion. First Nations people have lived in this area for at least 3,000 years. Some of the petroglyphs and pictographs they created here recorded important biographical or historical information. Other rock art would have been linked to their spiritual lives, including petroglyphs and pictographs that were created as a part of rituals and vision quests.

Petroglyphs are rock carvings:
Pictographs, in contrast, are paintings created with ochre which is a crushed iron ore mixed with water:
While the guests were on the walk in the protected area, my volunteer Tasha and I set up the picnic lunch. This, from a planning perspective, was the most challenging part of the tour! The bookable picnic shelters at Writing-on-Stone book up in January so we relied on getting to one of the first-come, first-serve shelters in the river valley. We booked Country Kitchen Catering to make buffalo (or bison) burgers and then we brought the burgers, pre-cooked in a warmer, out to the picnic shelter. There was salad and dainties for dessert.
Buffalo is a traditional food for the Blackfoot people so this opened up a conversation about traditional foods and we learned about some of the native plants of the area. For example, did you know that wild turnips grow in our coulees back in Lethbridge? Also, during lunch we served traditional Saskatoon Berry soup and bannock cooked by the Blackfoot Cultural Society. Our afternoon snack was buffalo jerky since buffalo meat was often preserved by drying and then used in various foods like pemmican. Mint tea, similar to what we served in the morning before the bus departed, is another traditional food from the area.

After lunch we went up to the interpretive centre for another tour with Bonnie (center in picture below), and for a chance to explore the exhibits and learn more about the history of the area.
Overall, the tour was a lot of fun and a really interesting way to learn about Blackfoot history. Blanche and Bonnie as our tour guides really did a great job of contextualising the rock art and explaining the historical themes. The volunteers, as always, were also a great help in making the day a success. I’m looking forward to doing this tour again in the future.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Flashlight Cemetery Tours

And, now, for some blatant advertising.

Sorry, I couldn't resist. I try not to use the BLOG solely for marketing but I have had so many people ask when Flashlight Cemetery Tour tickets go on sale that I thought it would be easiest to focus this BLOG on the tours. Tickets went on sale on September 7 and are available through the front desk of the Galt.

You can find all details as to dates and times on our web-site:

I know from our front desk that ticket sales are going briskly so (and particularly if you have specific dates and times that you want) buy your tickets right away. This tour sells out annually.

I thought I'd take the opportunity to share one of my favourite memories from past years of the tours.

As most of you know the tours are done in the dark and by flashlight. St. Patrick's Cemetery, where we hold these, is quite isolated and the noise of the city is muffled. At one of our stops, with everyone in the tour facing me, I suddenly saw all of the members of the tour freeze and I heard a collective gasp, as people's eyes got big and focused on something behind me. With great trepidation, I turned and looked at whatever they were seeing behind me. There in the distance were four orbs of light. I started to laugh and turned back towards the group. "It's deer, people." Our flashlights were reflected from the deers' eyes.

I'd love to hear your memories of the tours. If you have any fun stories to share, please pass them along.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Clue #2...and Zombies, Vampires, Rocky Horror Picture Show galore!

A few people have emailed me this week letting me know where they have searched for the key but have not yet found it....the key, what is it about, you ask....?! Well on Sept 26th we are recreating the opening of our building 100 years ago, and that includes the fact that the key was misplaced. In honour of that (probably embarassing) fact, we have hidden a key (along with instructions, in a small plastic baggy to guard it from the elements) somewhere in Lethbridge. New clues are being released each Wednesday here, on our twitter, on our facebook and on our website, as well as in the media.

Clue #1 from last week: “Trees! Water! Go there, you'll see! Walk or race, you set the pace. Peek around Lethbridge's beautiful gathering space.”

Clue #2 released today: "Searching, researching - can be fun right? Spend time looking in the archives into the night. Lethbridge has libraries for you to be - but did they know you'd be looking for a key?"

Let me know if YOU find it!! And you can open the doors for us at this upcoming event!

I am also really excited to note that our Halloween Movie Madness tickets are going on sale this Friday. With the Rocky Horror Picture Show being such a success, some of our youth and post-secondary volunteers and I thought it would be fun to expand on this for a few nights before Halloween. It is a FULL schedule with Thursday Oct 28th being Bite Night (Vampires) from 4 pm - 1 am; Zombies Galore Friday Oct 29th from 5:30 pm - 1:30 am; and finally Rocky Horror Picture Show on Saturday Oct 30th!

Tickets are $10 for Thurs, $10 for Fri night, and $18 for Saturday night, because we include your prop bag for the RHPS! Or you can get all 3 nights for $30. We'll have a bar, concession, costume prizes and the doors are open for come and go all night long!

If you want to see the list of movies being screened, check out our website and click on Events.....there are some from every decade almost, some cheesy, some scary, and a whole lotta fun! But now I have to decide what theme nights to run in 2011 so if you have a preference - werewolves, ghosts, or a whole series (Friday the 13th anyone??) let me know so that I have time to work on getting the rights to do a public screening in time!

Start working on this costumes - the last week of October is going to be a fuuuuunnnnn week!

Friday, 3 September 2010

Making a Difference

This experience made me smile (and, I must admit, tear up a little) when it was told to me.

Blanche, our Blackfoot interpreter, has been working with us here at the museum for the past 8 years. Blanche is legally blind (though many people who do programs with her are not aware of this). Blanche has this incredible ability to captivate young and old alike with her stories and experiences. As she teaches Blackfoot history and culture, she is also about building bridges between people. There is, unfortunately, a great deal of prejudice and misunderstanding between cultures and especially with respect to the Blackfoot in southern Alberta. Blanche has often told me over the years experiences she has had in the community and her strong hope that eventually everyone will just be treated as people and not First Nations or white.

As I called her earlier this week to book a class, she related the following story to me.
For years, Blanche has told students about her limited vision and says that if they see her out and about in the community, they should come up to her and say oki (Blackfoot for “hi) and introduce themselves because she won’t be able to see them. In August this year Blanche was at Wal-Mart shopping with her son and grandson. As she was sitting there, a young girl walked past her, stopped and then walked towards her with her hand-outstretched. When she got in front of Blanche she said “oki” and then “oki, Museum Lady.” She was with her young brother and turned to him and said “this lady works at the Galt Museum. You and me and Mom and Dad should go and visit her there one day.”

At that point her Mom noticed her talking to Blanche (who, as far as she knew, was a stranger) and asked her daughter why she was bothering the lady. The daughter responded that she was the museum lady and that she wanted to say hello.

To the little girl, she may just have been saying hi to someone she recognized, but to Blanche it was so much more. Months after meeting Blanche at the museum, the young girl remembered her and remembered what she had said.

Blanche remembered the meeting as unbelievably beautiful and was deeply touched by this little girl and her brother. Blanche’s son who was standing beside her summed it all up. He looked at Blanche and said “Mom, you’re making a difference.” Isn’t that, really, what all of us want to achieve – make the world better by what we do every day? Thanks, Blanche, for all that you do for us (and the community) every day.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Thank you Lethbridge! And now for some fun....

Wow Lethbridge, you did your best to make sure to attend the annual Scenic Plaza Whoop Up Days BBQ last Tuesday after the parade! I had blogged about this great event a few weeks back and well either you just love beef on a bun, or you wanted to help support the Green Acres seniors, or both! Whatever it was, do we, and the seniors I am sure, appreciate your support.
For the first time ever, we thought we'd run out of food - we did run short on beans so the last dozen people or so only got a small scoop, and almost ran out of beef, but that's ok - having an amazing turn-out like we did with the children filling our sidewalks with chalk art, getting their face's painted and colouring at their tables; and listening to a fun assortment of music provided by Pyramid Entertainment, made it a fun event for everyone! Thanks to all of our partners: CBI, Green Acres, Servus Credit Union, Tim Hortons, Servus Insurance Services, and Pyramid Entertainment!

Next up......a missing key.....are you a geocacher? If so, you'll love this one....if not, well if you have any detective spirit, you'll have a good time with this contest!

History tells us (not in the newspapers from the day though, this story has been passed along orally) that on September 1, 1910, when this building opened as the new hospital, that someone misplaced the key! As an event coordinator I absolutely LOVE this story because every event has hiccups, just usually the audience does not see it nor are they aware of it. I think it is ok when something goes "wrong", especially when it is at an event like an opening - I can't help but wonder how the person who forgot to take care of this task was feeling, or his/her boss, how the Prime Minister handled it, were people red in the face, was the audience giggling or confused...etc.

So in telling this story to one of our Katimavik volunteers, Kevin Poupart, he came up with the idea that we hide a key and give people clues throughout the month of September, to find the key, and whomever does gets to be the person on Sept 26th, when we officially open the Galt Hospital exhibit and celebrate our centennial, to open the doors to the crowds. Knowing how often I alone have looked at photos of the official opening, I know that this person may go down in history from the photos that may be taken on Sept 26th so this could be a really fun opportunity for someone who would be excited to "win" this.

So clue #1 is: “Trees! Water! Go there, you'll see! Walk or race, you set the pace. Peek around Lethbridge's beautiful gathering space.”

Watch our Facebook, Twitter, website, and the media each Wednesday in September for more clues!! Good luck!