Friday, 11 March 2011

When Cows Wandered Lethbridge and Sheep Lived at Henderson Lake

In just over a month and a half the exhibit -- Greatest Years You Never Knew: Lethbridge 1906 to 1913 -- will open. I've feeling very good about where most of the things are but time is getting close.

We are inviting/encouraging people to come in period clothes for the opening on April 30th (and we hope some of you will take us up on it). Some of our staff are going all out and their planned outfits are looking rather amazing. Several people have been asking me what I'm going to wear. They didn't think my answer of "I'm coming as a time traveler from 2011" was appropriate. So this past week I got into the fun of it all and found an outfit on-line that I think will be very suitable. It should arrive around March 22 so fingers crossed that it's what I think it's going to be. I'm not going to give any details but I'm designing my outfit around clothing that almost caused a riot in Toronto in March 1911.

The labels and panels have all been written but this past week I've been working on finalizing the details for the "ID cards" -- information on random individuals living in southern Alberta during this time period and whose stories will add more context for visitors. Our hope is to have a diverse group of people represented (but we only want about 15 cards) -- different ages, social status, marital status, country of origin, etc. But, as might be expected, there's much more information available on people from certain groups and very limited information on other groups. Hopefully people will be inspired to go home and think about things can be donated to help fill out the historical information.

Anine, Brad and I are working to create an interactive with "blocks" designed to be historic Lethbridge buildings (some that still exist but all of which were in Lethbridge in the 1906 to 1913 time period). Kids (and the young at heart) will be able to design their own Lethbridge by moving these buildings around in the streetscape. Or, if you wish, you can put them on the map where they were originally located and get a better sense of what the streets of Lethbridge looked like between 1906 and 1913. Should we also include in this interactive miniature streetcars, cars, bicycles and horses so you can see how they got around the city?

I haven't told Brad and Anine this yet, but I'm tempted to include a few cows. A 1906 bylaw stated that cows could no longer wander through Lethbridge (they were knocking over all of the newly planted trees). The fire department had to be called on occasionally to round up cows wandering through Lethbridge. It was also the responsibility of the pound-keeper to lock up the cows until owners could come and get them. Or maybe we could include the sheep they used to keep at Henderson Lake to keep down the oats (which they planted instead of grass in the early days)? Or chickens? Or? .... What animals, if any, do you think we should include in the interactive city scape?

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