Saturday, 26 February 2011

Thoughts from Teachers' Convention

I didn't get a chance to blog on Friday as is my usual because I was at Teachers' Conventions on Thursday and Friday. I spent Friday at the University of Lethbridge with a booth at the Southwestern Alberta Teachers' Convention promoting the Galt programs. That afternoon the local ATA Social Studies Council and the Galt hosted a social at the Galt as a way of introducing teachers to the resources of the museum and to provide an opportunity for teachers to network and visit with colleagues.

On Friday I was in Calgary at the Palliser District Teachers' Convention presenting on teaching critical and historical thinking skills to students.

One thing I enjoy about Teachers' Convention is having a chance to talk to teachers about their concerns and issues -- what topics are they looking for resources to help teach? What areas of study are they finding difficulties in getting their kids to understand? If they had all the times and resources, what sorts of programs would they like to see?

This gives me the opportunity to keep up with what is happing in the education field and, most importantly, gives me a chance to start brainstorming new programs or new resources the Galt can provide to assist teachers and students as much as possible.

One topic came up from teachers at both conventions (and an education professor a few weeks before convention) so I know there's a real need for this -- understanding immigration in Canada today and how Canada is changing as part of the grade 9 curriculum. We have immigration programs for grade 5 and 7 classes but they focus entirely on historical immigration -- studying which groups came when and their stories. But there is a real need for expanding this for a grade 9 class -- grounding students in the historical but focusing also on modern realities and modern challenges. And I have plans to work with a few local teachers to see what sort of program we can develop to bring this history into the now.

This is why I love teachers' convention -- it is an amazing place to observe problems, recognize the opportunities and generate new programs and resources that meet a very real need. My brain is buzzing with ideas and I can't wait to email and meet with these teachers in the weeks coming up to get to work on a new program.

Friday, 18 February 2011

For your 1906-1913 Mixtape

I've been focusing this week on sounds and music to add depth to the Lethbridge 1906-1913 exhibit. Bobbie Fox found me a lot of these songs (and I have a fabulous mixed CD to listen to) and some I came across while researching for other stuff.

Many of the songs have been stuck in my head all week. So on this Friday of a long weekend I thought I'd share a short list of some songs you may know that were written between 1906 and 1913.

Teddy Bears' Picnic"
John Walter Bratton - 1907
The version of this that Bobbie found has a bear growling at different times throughout the song. She thinks we should have the song playing from the bear in the zoo in the exhibit so it appears that the bear is growling at you. What do you think?

Let Me Call You Sweetheart
Leo Friedman (M) and Beth Slater Whitson (L) - 1910
This "swoon tune" was written in 1910 and sold approximately 6 million copies in the first decade. Be honest, how many of you played it or sang it on Valentine's Day? This song always makes me think of box socials and hay rides or what I imagine they would have been like.

Oh, You Beautiful Doll
Nat D. Ayer (M) and Seymour Brown (M) - 1911
Anine Vonkeman, our Marketing and Communications Coordinator, thinks that kids going through half of the exhibit should carry "potato dolls." Now when I hear this song, I have visions of potato dolls in my head.

When Irish Eyes are Smiling
Ernest Ball (M), Chauncy Olcott and George Graff Jr. (L) - 1912
This song was written in 1912 for a Chauncy Olcott stage show. The more research I did into this time period, the more I realized that all of those songs that I thought were traditional Irish songs are very modern and very not Irish.

It's a Long, Long Way to Tipperary
Jack Judge and Harry Williams - 1912
From what I've been able to find on this song, it was originally a ballad titled It's a Long Way to Connemara (written in 1909) but in order to win a bet in 1912 that he could have a new song ready in 24 hours, Jack Judge rewrote the shelved ballad as a march and changed the destination to Tipperary. Then in 1914 one of the British regiments was heard singing the song in France and the song became associated with a vision of hope and became the military song it is known as today.

Danny Boy
Tune Adapted and Lyrics written by Fred E. Weatherly - 1913
This song had its start in 1913 when a poem written by Fred Weatherly was combined with an old tune and this "traditional" Irish song was born.

Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral (That's An Irish Lullaby)
James Royce Shannon - 1913
As can be seen from even this short list, Irish ballads and songs were popular during this time period and this falls into that category.

And, yes, I know the title to this blog is anachronistic -- both in that tapes didn't exist in the 1906-1913 time period and that no one uses tapes today. I'm a product of the 1980s and always will be.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Do you bush?

I’ve been asking people this question all week.

Those who don’t know what I mean have been giving me the most curious, confused and strange looks. With those who know what I mean, it has often led into a fascinating discussion about bushing – where did you learn, what variation did you use, did you get in trouble for doing it, and do you still bush?

First, let me explain what bushing is.

Bushing is a game (some consider it gambling) often used to determine who is going to buy coffee or food. Traditionally it has been done more within groups of men than women though today it is seen within co-ed groups as well.

The variation I remember seeing as a child (usually when Dad met up with a group of other men at auction sales, etc) was done with coins. Each man would put 0, 1, 2, or 3 coins in his right hand. All of the men extended their closed right hands and guessed how many combined coins there were. The person who was right was out and did not have to buy a round. A new hand was started until only one man was left – he then had to buy for everyone.

I have also been told of other variations. There is one variation done with numbers where one person (sometimes the man who lost the time before) chooses a random number. People guess numbers and are told whether the number is higher or lower. The strategy here is to NOT pick the number because the person who picks the number has to pay. From coffee row in Picture Butte, I’ve been led to understand that if there are just a few men, then coins are used. If there are quite a few men, then the number variation is used instead.

And a third variation involves uses fingers (rather than coins) and guessing how many combined fingers people will extend. I have also been told by one person that rather than traditional “bushing” their group has replaced it with rock, paper, scissors.

I have always been fascinated with traditions such as this. Where did the name “bushing” come from? One person called the game “bird in a bush.” Was this the original name and then shortened? Where did this activity originate? Is it played right across Alberta? In other provinces? My Dad, who worked in the oil industry, remembers playing it at camps across Alberta but it appears there were different variations in different places.

Other people remember being told by restaurant owners that they couldn’t “bush” in the restaurant – as it was considered gambling. I must admit, I never thought of it as gambling. As a child, watching the men bush I was always amazed at how fast it was and how everyone just seemed to automatically understand the rules and what was happening.

So, once again, have you bushed and do you still bush? Do you have a different variation to the game? Who taught you? Is it played outside of Alberta? Why is it called bushing? (or why do you think it’s called bushing) I would love to try and track the origin of the game.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Lots and lots of Award Nominations

So this is the time of year where it seems everyone who does a city-wide or region-wide award, has their nominations due! This creates a lot of work sd there is always a lot of paperwork that the nominee has to sign, plus I have to interview them for information, and then I have to type it up and make it a winner! But it is all worth it - every time there is an award being handed out in our region or province, I take a good look at our volunteer base and know that one of the 300-ish people who donate time here at least annually, deserves to win and many more deserve a chance by at least being nominated.

So here I am again, working towards a deadline of Friday currently, for 2 nominations for Immigrant Achievement Awards. This is only the second year for these awards in Lethbridge, and they will be handed out on March 19th.

Then following that, I have 11 youth volunteers being nominated for Leaders of Tomorrow awards, which are handed out on April 12th!

There were also some sports awards, and I know a few of our volunteers definitely deserve to be recognized for their passion in this area (plus at least one of our staff!), but as I don't hear about these awards until more recently, I didn't have time to fit it in with my other nominations, so maybe next year!

It is wonderful to be able to recognize our volunteers through public events, such as award nominations. If I had the time, I'd find something for each one of our volunteers to be nominated for as each of them deserves recognition, not only for what they do here for us, but what they do also for other organizations, their families, their friends, etc. We are very fortunate to have so many wonderful people who believe so strongly in the Galt, and who give so much of themselves to us!

If you know of other awards, send them my way - preferably ones with nominations in the spring, summer or fall though as I don't think I can do much more in the winter ;) Back to my nomination forms and packages I go.....

Friday, 4 February 2011

I want a chaise. Do I need a cornerstone?

There are so many choices and options when it comes to an exhibit. For the time period I'm studying (Lethbridge 1906-1913), there are over 1700 objects in our Collection and it's also possible, of course, to borrow from other museums and collections if necessary. Objects need to be studied and chosen. Photographs picked. Decisions made about marketing and promotional displays. And through it all it is important to keep asking a few questions. Is this item "needed" to tell the story? Or is it just something that I "want" to have in the exhibit. Some decisions are easy. Some are much more difficult.

First, display decisions. One we had to make was an in-house promotion that goes over the doorway into our Viewing Gallery. It needed to be something that could handle the light in that room, be large enough to grab attention, showcase aspects of the exhibit and, hopefully, get people wondering about the exhibit and build interest in the exhibit. And it had to fit that space and be easily put together. Using a 1911 photograph of a building decorated for the coronation, the display below was constructed. The first photograph shows Brad Brown, Exhibit Designer, installing the display. The second photograph shows the finished product. Thanks to Susan Burrows Johnson for preparing the cloth bunting and Anine Vonkeman for getting the poster done.

Object choice is always fun. What objects will best tell the story? Some choices are easy.

The whistle and farebox from the Lethbridge streetcars (which started in 1912) are an on obvious choice.

Others are much more problematic. One area of the exhibit looks at buildings of the time -- buildings we lost and buildings that remain as a legacy from 1906-1913. I have always thought that an authentic and powerful way to tell the story of buildings lost were with some of the pieces in our collection from some of these lost buildings.
Sounds simple enough but these are 4000 lb. cornerstones (from Fleetwood School on the left and Central School on the right). Do I truly NEED the cornerstones to tell the story? Can I do it in another way? I'm still pondering this...

And then there's the interactive parlour (where you'll be able to sit, look through books and documents from the time and immerse yourself in music and more). We have found a great many cool items for this area, including a tea cart and table, two rocking chairs from the time period, a few other small chairs, many nicknacks, doilies, decanters and much more. While we still have to decide if it will fit in, we even have a true chandelier (there was electricity and we'll have lamps in the exhibit but this is possible to centre the room). But what I really want is a chaise -- a large, grand, over the top one that will finish that room perfectly. Oh, and a Victrola that's not working so we can put modern equipment inside and have period music playing from the machine. And...

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Any Galt Babies out there?

Galt Babies/Galt Museum Centennial Sept 2010

Plans are to have another birthday party this year for the Galt Babies. Who are the Galt Babies? People born in our museum, back when it was a hospital.

We are very lucky in that we know of over 1000 people who love our building as much as we do!
Galt Babies Party 2008

Periodically we have a celebration for the Galt Babies. Basically this consists of free admission for the day, cake and coffee and tea, some entertainment, and tours of the building to explain how it was as a hospital. We are also very fortunate as the Galt Nurses, women who either trained in this building for their nursing career, or whom trained with the Galt School of Nursing, volunteer their time at these parties to welcome and congratulate the Babies!

Our last Galt Babies party was September 26, 2010 when we celebrated our building's 100th birthday. That being a strange time of the year, and Galt Babies living all over the world, we found a lot of people sent their regrets that it was not a good time for them to travel. With that in mind, we thought we'd try for a party on a long weekend in the summer - a time where the out-of-towners are more likely to be able to come here to be a part of the celebrations.

Galt Babies Party - hospital tour - 2008

So with that in mind, we have a few months to add any Galt Babies we don't know about to our invitation list! If you, or someone you know, is a Galt Baby and have not received past invitations from us, please contact us and let us know so we can make sure to add you to the invitation list. If you know someone who was born in our building who has since passed on, we do want to know about them too as we want to ensure we have as accurate of a historical record of who was born here, as possible.

Galt Babies/Galt Museum Centennial Sept 2010

Please contact Lori at 403-320-4219 or lori.harasem @ (without the spaces) to register yourself or someone else. We look forward to meeting and greeting you this summer!