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Official Blog of the Chilliwack Museum and Archives

Archive for the ‘Engagement’ Category

Introducing the Community Gallery

Posted on: August 15th, 2018 by Kelsey Ablitt

If you’ve visited the museum over the last few years, you’ve likely noticed various mini “exhibits” on the hallway between the two galleries. Over the past few years the hallway has been home to the photographs from the Kidtography Exhibit to journal entries from the Classroom in Residences program, both were collaborations with local classrooms. Ultimately, this hallway has become a space for the Education and Engagement Coordinator to display collaborative community projects.

A very happy me with the fresh vinyl.

With the school year having come to a close, the Classroom in Residence journal entries were removed from the wall. Knowing we wanted to keep this space as a home for community exhibits, it seemed appropriate to finally name the space. After some deliberation we settled on the “Community Gallery.” The Community Gallery would be home to future community collaborations to be displayed.

With the Community Gallery named, it was time to create a display or rather exhibit. To coincide with our latest exhibit “Mountaineers: Community Experience in Chilliwack’s Mountains”, curator Anna and I decided to hold a photography competition. The theme of the competition was engaging with our local mountains, meaning entries could be of hiking the mountains or images of the mountains from afar. From July 14th to August 3rd, we asked the community to use social media to submit their photos of the local mountains with us. The requirements were to use #chwkmountaineers, tag us @chwkmuseum, follow us and identify the mountain in their photo. Of course many of the entries featured some of Chilliwack’s better known peaks such as Mt. Cheam and Mt. Slesse. All of the entries were amazing and it was exciting to see the community taking part in our competition.

The Community Gallery featuring its latest exhibit, Mountaineers Photo Competition.

Along with prizes, our three weekly winners and overall competition winner will have their image displayed in the Community Gallery until the conclusion of our Mountaineers Exhibit in early 2019.

Join us in celebrating these community connections by visiting the museum to see the latest exhibit in the Community Gallery, on display now.

My Summer at the Museum

Posted on: July 31st, 2018 by Kelsey Ablitt

Guest Blog by Education Assistant Abbie Murphy

Mountaineers Bear Hunt craft taught at the July guided family craft sessions.

This past summer I had the pleasure of working the Education and Engagement Assistant position through Young Canada Works. Some of the things I learnt include different events in Chilliwack’s vast history, how a museum operates, and many instructional techniques that will benefit my future career in teaching.

When I first started at the museum, the Mountaineers exhibit was being prepared to open. During the preparation for the exhibit opening, I learnt not only of Chilliwack’s historical relationship with the mountain ranges in the area, but also, the techniques and mechanics that are required to produce an exhibit. For example, for the exhibit to open, the lights must be rearranged to highlight the texts and artifacts. Along with the other summer student, Alec, I worked to reposition current lights and add light fixtures to ensure the exhibit features were clearly visible and shown at their best. After adjusting the lights, I had a new understanding of the meticulous work that had to be completed before opening an exhibit. Thus, my appreciation for the staff at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives increased.

One of the projects I worked independently on this summer were the family craft drop-ins that I led each Wednesday in July. Although the craft dates took place in July, I spent the majority of June researching Chilliwack’s history and finding a craft to associate with the topics I discovered. Once I had selected four major themes, Mountaineers, Chilliwack Flying Club and Airport, British Columbia Electric Railway, and Chilliwack Fair and Agriculture, I started planning related crafts. In addition to preparing interesting crafts for elementary aged children, I created matching and true or false games using historical photos from the archival collection at the museum. Although I would not consider myself a crafty person, I enjoyed creating and teaching crafts that reflected Chilliwack’s history.

Canadian Goose Marionette Puppet

Another important part of my position at the museum were outreach events. Outreach involved working at different community events throughout the summer, such as Canada Day and Party in the Park. At Canada Day, I had created and prepared Canada Goose parts out of construction paper for children to build and turn into a marionette puppet. During the outreach events, I learnt about the community’s different interests in Chilliwack’s history and was able to teach, using the games and crafts I had created, about some of the captivating topics in Chilliwack’s past such as the flood of 1894.

Although my time at the museum is about to end, I will continue to use the historical knowledge and experiences that I have received while working at the museum throughout my education, career, and personal life. I have gained a new appreciation for Chilliwack after leading walking tours, assisting in educational programs, and teaching crafts. Sharing the details of Chilliwack’s past, the architecture, the environment, and the people, has truly allowed for both my education and appreciation for the area to flourish.

Facial Recognition – Archives Style

Posted on: July 25th, 2018 by Tristan Evans

Unidentified group with big smiles [2016.032.002.0786]

Big tech companies and government agencies have the advantage of using facial recognition software to help them identify individuals from digital images.  While I love a good conspiracy theory, I’ll break the myth and let you know that as a small community archives, we do not have such technology in our possession.  However, we here at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives have a secret tool that Google, Facebook, and large agencies do not have.  We have a great set of dedicated volunteers and a community that cares about preserving Chilliwack’s history.

 

Unknown individual doing something important [2016.032.002.0784]

 

Today I am going to tap into the community (you) and ask for help.  Throughout this blog you’ll notice photographs from a large collection.  The donor, I, and our volunteers have all tried to identify these remaining photographs from this large collection.  Unfortunately we have not had any luck.  This is when I ask you to kindly put on your archives hat and see if you recognize any of the individuals in these photos and/or maybe the event itself.

 

 

 

 

 

Looks like a charismatic speaker [2016.032.002.0787]

Any information you have on these photographs is appreciated.  Feel free to contact me directly if you recognize these photographs and I will gladly update our database.   You can find my contact information at the bottom of the blog post.  After you’ve looked at all the photographs of course.

 

 

 

 

 

Kids being patient [2016.032.002.0788]

Just three more photographs to go.  How about this fantastic family on the right with “smiling” kids?

 

 

 

 

 

 

More smiles [2016.032.002.0790]

Almost done.  How come this family is so lucky?  They appear in a few of these photographs!

 

 

 

 

 

Where is this store? I don’t know, do you? [2016.032.002.0791]

You made it to the final image… for now.  Recognize where this store is?

 

Thank you for looking.

 

Tristan Evans

[email protected]

604-792-5210 ext. 104

Local History Kit-Sumas Lake

Posted on: July 11th, 2018 by Kelsey Ablitt

Last fall while attending the University of the Fraser Valley, I took a directed studies course with history professor Scott Sheffield. The purpose of my directed studies was to create a local history kit on Sumas Lake to be used by the Chilliwack Museum and Archives. Having worked at the museum the previous two summers, I was quite familiar with the current local history kits and the type of resources they provide. From my research, I gathered materials that best depicted the vast history of Sumas Lake and the impact its drainage had on the community. While working at the Museum these past few months I have been able to complete the kit, making it an available resource for educators.

Sumas Lake Local History Kit.

To provide a brief overview, located in the Fraser Valley between Vedder Mountain and Sumas Mountain, Sumas Lake blended the border between Abbotsford and Chilliwack. In its peak season, the lake could expand to as large as 33,000 acres; on average the lake spanned 10,000 acres for the better part of the year. The lake was used by the whole community. For new settlers, it was a place for family picnics in the summer and ice-skating in the winter. For the Stó:lō people, Sumas Lake and the land that surrounded it was an important part of the daily lives and culture.

Plans to drain Sumas Lake had existed for 30-40 years, previous to the 1920’s scheme. While previous iterations of the plans failed, the project undertaken in the 1920s had several phases, culminating in the creation of two pump stations which removed (and continue to remove) water from the natural occurring lakebed on the Sumas flats. The pumps, located at Barrowtown and McGillvary Creek, were the largest of their kind in Canada when initially constructed and were capable of draining water from an Olympic-sized swimming pool in twenty seconds. The pumps began working on July 3rd, 1923 and the lake was successfully drained by June 1924, nearly a year later.

The draining of Sumas Lake is a multi-layered and complex subject, and many aspects of the drainage were (and remain) controversial to this day. The purpose of the kit is to explore the controversy, such as the impact on farmers and the local First Nations, both at the time of the drainage and current today. Through the primary and secondary sources included in the kit, ranging from newspaper articles advertising meetings regarding the reclamation project, images of tractors on the dried up lake bed, to booklets written on the overwhelming mosquito population, students have the ability to engage hands-on with their local history and make inferences as to why the lake was drained and the impact the drainage had and continues to have.

Sumas Lake tractors on lakebed floor ca. 192-. (AM 616)

Like many of our other local history kits, the Sumas Lake kit can be adapted to suit various grade levels and educators have the ability to create their own lesson plans using the information and primary and secondary materials provided in the kit to suit individual class needs.

The Sumas Lake kit is available for booking by educators for the 2018-2019 school year and can be booked online or by phone at 604-795-5210.

Upcoming Summer Activities!

Posted on: June 6th, 2018 by Kelsey Ablitt

As the summer approaches, myself and our education assistant, Abbie are planning our summer activities! For the past two years the museum has offered weekly craft activities throughout the summer. This year our activities will be taking place in July. Every Wednesday in July we will be offering both a morning and afternoon session of guided crafts. Each week we will be focusing on a theme related to Chilliwack’s vibrant history, offering a specific craft related to the topic.

We will be offering both a morning session from 10-11am and an afternoon session from 2-3pm.

July 4th: Mountaineering featuring a map craft.
July 11th: Chilliwack Flying Club/Chilliwack Airport featuring a clothespin airplane craft.
July 18th: British Columbia Electric Railway featuring a train craft.
July 25th: Chilliwack Fair/ Agriculture featuring a fair focused puppet craft.
Cost: By donation.
Location: Chilliwack Museum, 45820 Spadina Ave.

Activities are suitable for ages 5 and up.

The B.C. Electric Railway train craft that will be offered July 18th.

Along with our summer activities at the museum, we will also be at various outreach events throughout the summer, such as Cultus Lake Day and Canada Day. Stop by and say hello!

For more information on our summer activities please call 604-795-5210 x. 103 or email [email protected]

What’s Behind the Locked Doors?

Posted on: May 16th, 2018 by Tristan Evans

Today I would like to use this opportunity to promote a new event here at the Archives.  Starting this year we have been having free behind-the-scenes tours of the Chilliwack Archives.  The free tours are open to everyone and take place on the last Friday of the month.  Hint, May 25th for this month.  Each tour runs between 45 minutes to an hour.

 

Archivist Tristan Evans is pleased with the new sandwich board sign. Photo credit: Adrienne Rempel [February 6, 2018]

Are you curious what we are hiding behind those secret archive doors?  Ever wondered where I disappear to when you request to view a fonds or photograph?  Are you a long-time history nerd with serious questions and you want to know more about our local collections?  Come to the tour.  Are you brand new to the history field and just looking to see what all the hype is about at the Archives?  Come to the tour.  The tour is open to everyone, no previous research experience required.  Seriously, it is a really great opportunity.

 

Below is all the information you need:

 

Price: FREE!!!

Where: Evergreen Hall, Chilliwack Archives, 9291 Corbould Street, Chilliwack, BC V2P 4A6

When: Last Friday of every month at 3:00 PM

Reservation: Not required!  All you need to do is stop by the Archives at 3:00 PM

 

“I don’t always go on free tours, but when I do, it’s to visit the Chilliwack Archives”

-World’s Most Interesting Man

 

Archive Door protecting the secrets of the archive stacks. Photo credit: Tristan Evans [May 16, 2018]

I know that I’m not alone when I say I love visiting archives.  Sure museums are fun, but how often do you get to see behind the scenes?  You will be rewarded with the opportunity to explore how we catalogue and preserve archival records and cultural objects.  At most institutions you are lucky to peak behind an archive door and glimpse a view at the secrets of the archival world.  These glimpses into the mysterious world of an archivist are usually reserved for special occasions such as “archives week” or “culture week.”  Not here at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives.  We are very fortunate here in Chilliwack to have a large and diverse collection of archival records, artifacts, and cultural objects for a community of our size.  My job is to preserve these archival records; but also, to make them available to the community.  So please, stop by on the last Friday of every month, 3:00 PM, no RSVP!

 

Are you sold yet?  If not, here are a couple comments I’ve heard after our first three tours:

Newspapers… Boxes and boxes of newspapers. Photo credit: Tristan Evans [May 16, 2018]

“Good Tour”

“Great Tour”

“I really enjoyed that, thank you”

“Oh wow!  That was the greatest tour I have ever had in my entire life.  It totally changed my life.  Nothing can ever top this”

 

Okay… Maybe I slightly misquoted that last one and perhaps exaggerated a little bit.  In all seriousness though, these tours are great.  I really hope to keep them going and they are something that very few institutions offer.  Generally speaking, the public is forbidden to go behind-the-scenes of an archive.  These tours tear down those restrictions.  They make my job less of a mystery to you, the public, and they are a perfect opportunity for you to ask questions you may have about our collections or general Chilliwack community history.  I really hope to see you on May 25th or any other last Friday of the month.

Interactive Discovery Bins

Posted on: May 2nd, 2018 by Kelsey Ablitt

Do you ever see old items and get the overwhelming urge to handle them? Well have no fear, the discovery bins are here for you!

The Discovery Bins are located in the Community of Villages.

Located in the back section of our permanent exhibit is an interactive discovery bin station. The discovery bins provide a more hands on and interactive experience for visitors of all ages, though they tend to appeal largely to children. For children, these bins help them learn about and test out tools people once used in their home or to communicate with each other. For other visitors, the artifacts in the bins can be a trip down memory lane, as they see familiar items that may have been found in their childhood home’s kitchen.

We currently have six themed discovery bins available for exploration. The themes are farming, kitchenware, communication, travel, education and local First Nations history. In each bin various artifacts are provided along with interactive games and worksheets. The worksheets can be helpful in starting the conversation about what something is and how it may have be used. A Discovery Hunt booklet takes visitors through each bin as a type of scavenger hunt.

Do you recognize this artifact? Next to it is a glimpse of our Discovery Hunt Booklet.

Some of our most popular artifacts are an eggbeater, a rotary phone and a butter press. With the way technology has evolved, for some visitors these older forms of modern items can really puzzle some of our younger visitors.

On your next visit make sure to check out the discovery bins, you’ll never know what you’ll find!

SQ’ÉWLETS Exhibition Final Week

Posted on: April 26th, 2018 by Adrienne Rempel

Installation image of Sq’éwlets exhibition. Photo by Lori Johnson.

This is the final week that the exhibition SQ’ÉWLETS: A Stó:lō–Coast Salish Community in the Fraser River Valley will be on display at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives. The exhibition will wrap up this Saturday April 28th, with a closing ceremony held from 10am to 11am (the exhibition will remain open until 2pm on Saturday). All are welcome to this community event.

Sq’éwlets exhibition opening event.

During its 5-month span, the  SQ’ÉWLETS exhibition has welcomed over 800 visitors. With a strong interest from local schools, our staff provided exhibition tours to nearly 200 students in the community. This spring, we also ran our first classroom-in-residence program, which provided two classrooms with a dedicated period of time to engage with, and study, the exhibition.

If you don’t have the chance to make it to the exhibition, you can still catch the content through the Sq’éwlets First Nation website (but we hope you make it out anyway!)

With informative panels, photos, touchable objects, a material identification activity, video, and a touchscreen portal to the exhibition website, there is a lot to see and do for folks of all ages!

(The website was produced by the Sq’éwlets First Nation in collaboration with the Stó:lō Resource and Research Management Centre at Stó:lō Nation, the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, and additional partners.)

Wrapping up the Classroom in Residence pilot project

Posted on: March 28th, 2018 by Stephanie Clinton

Guest blog by Lena Yacyshen, Classroom-in-Residence Coordinator

In December we posted a blog about a new education project we would be launching in the spring. Now that the Classroom in Residence pilot project has wrapped up, we can share a little more about our experience and the activities students participated in during their museum residency.

Students learning about Chilliwack’s historic downtown and making comparisons between the old and new architecture.

The Classroom in Residence Project is different from other museum education programs in that it is week-long and immerses students in the museum, Chilliwack’s history and community. We hosted two elementary school classes during the pilot project. The students learned a lot and made strong connections throughout the week, and we also learned a lot from them too. These two pilot classes have helped lay the foundation for the project moving forward and have also demonstrated the value of the project to School District #33.

Each day students participated in different activities in the community and at the museum. In the afternoon students were given time to slow down and reflect on the mornings events in personal journals. This kind of open ended assignment not only helps build students’ critical thinking, writing and drawing skills but also allows them to document their learning in a personal way. This balance of learning new things, (and having new experiences) making connections with what has been learned in the classroom while taking time to slow down, reflect and consolidate learning is an essential aspect of the project.

What did the week look like?

Day One: Students were given an extensive museum tour and shown around Chilliwack’s Historic Downtown.

Day Two: Students spent the morning at the archives learning about how material culture informs us about time, place and culture and the importance of preserving and having access to local documents. Students also used primary sources to examine land settlement over time in Chilliwack and learned how to conduct basic local research.

Students using primary sources to look at land settlement and development over time in Chilliwack.

Day Three: Guest speakers from Stó:lō Nation and Sq’éwlets Fist Nation discussed the current exhibit and other aspects of Stó:lō culture and history such as transformation/ origin stories and the impact of residential schools. In the afternoon students visited the library for a tour and an introduction to all the activities and learning resources available at no cost.

Day Four: Students were given a behind the scenes tour of The Chilliwack Progress’ newsroom and learned about local news from their award-winning journalists. Later, students created their own group newspaper, basing production on what the Progress’ team taught them.

Day Five: Museum staff gave a lesson on exhibit creation/design and students mocked up their own exhibits for the museum. Students finalize their best journal entry from the week and installed their own exhibit out of their entries (come by the museum before June to see it!). That afternoon, students hosted an open house for their parents and School District staff where they gave museum tours and showcased what they had been learning throughout the week.

Lessons Learned

Students captivated by (Albert) Sonny McHalsie’s story telling.

At the end of the week students were excited about all the new discoveries and connections they made in their hometown, and they wished the residency could have lasted longer. Students came away with a strong sense of place and a deeper understanding of many topics because of their unique experiences. Learning first hand from important Stó:lō community members and Elders allowed students to truly understand the hardships this community has faced, but has also given them a sense of the beauty and strength of Stó:lō culture. Learning behind the scenes at the library and newspaper gave students insight into how these institutions meet the needs of our community and contribute to our sense of place. Learning about Chilliwack’s past and present helped participants feel connected and more invested in our community. Program participants could see the museum (and all museums) as a place for living culture where there are links between the past and our contemporary environment. These collective experiences instill curiosity and a love of learning and we feel strongly that the students we have worked with will become life-long learners who are invested in their community.

A word from the Coordinator

My time at the museum as Classroom in Residence Coordinator has whizzed past me because of the fun, challenging and dynamic nature of the position. Everyday I learned multiple new things about myself, Chilliwack’s history and community, education, museum practices and more. I have been interested in pursuing a career in education outside of the traditional classroom, being unsure of what form that would take this type of local and collaborative approach to education has been eye opening for me. I can’t wait to see how the Classroom in Residence Project evolves over time- the possibilities are endless and the students that get to participate are truly lucky.

Chilliwack Writers reflect on “What it’s like Living Here”

Posted on: March 23rd, 2018 by Stephanie Clinton

This past Saturday the museum welcomed a group of inspired writers to join Heather Ramsay in an exploration of what it’s like to live in Chilliwack.

“It is always incredible to witness how many different ways the same sights and sounds can be interpreted by different observers and writers…and that was just during our tour of the museum. Once we got started on describing places that are special to us, whole new worlds took shape. From the destruction of one “cracker box” home, to the construction of a log house dream, places came alive in so many different ways. As the teacher, I was happy to hear such inspired writing from the students. When they asked me when the next workshop would be, I took that as a sign that we went somewhere great together.” – Heather Ramsay on Saturday’s workshop.

As a museum and archives we collect historic records which help us understand our city and it’s past. However, as we always like to say, we’re not just about “old” things, but about the places, the objects, the memories and the moments which make our city what it is today. And that includes you! Your stories and experiences of Chilliwack are important. Our workshop participants started to explore this on Saturday and as one writer wrote to us about the workshop, “the group was great and the people and their stories were fascinating.” Anne Russell, one of the workshop participants, has shared an excerpt from her first draft below.

Anne Russell, on her Little Mountain “crackerbox” home in the 1990’s:

Anne's crackerbox home on Little Mountain, ca. 1990's.

Anne’s crackerbox home on Little Mountain, ca. 1990’s.

“This funky forest home resonated with our desire to be slightly off the grid. We hadn’t moved 100 km from the city just to live in a BC Box house in a subdivision.

We felt like we’d found the place to be the kind of young adults we wanted to be. Adventurous, nature-loving hikers and mountain bikers living amongst the cedar trees, grooving in nature with two cats in the yard – and a puppy and kitten who soon followed — and a tiny garden eked out of the forest surrounding us. We were like two schoolkids playing grown up in a most romantic setting.”

We will be sharing some of the participants’ completed stories over the next few months on the blog and we hope you’ll be inspired to share some of your experiences of our city as well!