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Archive for the ‘Exhibitions’ Category

Technology of the Past

Posted on: April 13th, 2016 by Jane Lemke
Polaroid Land Camera CMA 2003.013.007

This Polaroid Land Camera was purchased for $6.65 in 1972. This equates to about $45 if adjusted for inflation. Chilliwack Museum and Archives 2003.013.007

Who out there remembers Polaroid cameras? Or film? These technologies seem like a distant memory for many, if not completely unknown to younger generations. Nowadays, you can take a photo on your phone and share it with anyone you want within 30 seconds. There is even an app for taking a photo just to have it disappear!

Our upcoming exhibit, Photography from Obscura to App explores how the developments in photographic processes and techniques have formed how we photograph, what we photograph, and how photography has shaped our perception of the world we live in.   Economics is closely linked not only with the development of photographic processes and technology, but also with the esthetic unfolding of photography.  There has been a struggle to generate ideas that make photography more inexpensive and more exact, and to give it the most extensive possible distribution. The competition between various technologies and processes that began with the invention of photography in 1839 has resulted in the profusion of easily accessible images we surround ourselves with today.

In the early twenty-first century we are so familiar with the photograph and other technically reproduced imagery, that to imagine a world without these visuals is hard. The invention of photography was such an astonishing achievement in the mid-nineteenth century that perhaps its only imaginable equivalent might be the invention of the internet. Photography now relates to everything within society and art.

Camera Obscura

Camera Obscura

The first record of the Camera Obscura principle goes back to Ancient Greece, when Aristotle noticed how light passing through a small hole into a darkened room produces an image on the wall opposite, during a partial eclipse of the sun.

One of the first forms of photography was the Camera Obscura, which is essentially a dark, closed space in the shape of a box with a hole on one side of it. The hole has to be small enough in proportion to the box to make the Camera Obscura work properly. The way it works is that due, to optical laws, the light coming through a tiny hole transforms and creates an image on the surface that it meets, i.e. the wall of the box. The image was mirrored and upside down, however, so basically everything that makes today’s analogue camera’s principles different to Camera Obscura ones are the mirrors and the film which is used to capture and preserve the image created by the light.

What other forms of photography are now only in history? Too many to count! Photography from Obscura to App opens on September 22, 2016 at the Chilliwack Museum. Stay tuned for more photographic history throughout the summer.

Women and Sports

Posted on: March 16th, 2016 by Bettles, Shannon

This month there is an unusual event taking place at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives. The event features a panel of athletes, coaches and sports administrators who will talk about sports and answer questions related to their sports careers. I know what you are thinking – why is a museum hosting a sports-related event? Typically when people get together to discuss sports, it’s over a few beers in a bar. So what’s up?

Game On! Women in Sports

Our event is called Game On! Women in Sports and takes place in the Chambers Gallery of the Chilliwack Museum and Archives at 7pm on Thursday, March 31. Our major partner for this event is ViaSport BC, British Columbia’s sport agency, who have been promoting their provincial campaign advocating for gender equity in sport called Level the Field (#LevelTheField). The timing is good: ViaSport’s gender equity campaign parallels our current exhibit about Chilliwack’s sporting history Game On! The History of Sports in Chilliwack. The symposium and our partnership: a natural fit.

Why the Topic of Women in Sports?

Chilliwack Girls Hockey Team 1964

Chilliwack Girls hockey team from Left to Right, Front row: Carol Wawryk, Donna Coldwell, Yvonne Percher, Heather Innes, Mavis Tetlock, Lynne Furnis, Fay Cross. Back row: Ann Hanna, Sandra Roach, Colleen Barrow, Bev Carmichael, Arlene Price, Joene Pyvis, Judy Caldwell, and Coach Fred Madden. 1964. 1999.029.042.018

As our Curator Jane was busy scouring our Archives for sports-related material, it was quickly realized that something was missing from the historical sports record – women. While there was some evidence that women were involved in sports and recreation to varying degrees over the years, little of this research or archival documentation has been deposited at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives.

Newspapers, haven’t always highlighted or included female sporting accomplishments either. But we know that women did participate in, and excel at, sports. Photographs, oral histories and community members and a few artifacts help tell the stories. They speak of achievements on a local and regional level in team sports like basketball and field hockey, bowling, curling and lawn bowling for example. Women formed teams and clubs, officiated, coached and had fun, even through controversy at times.

The Game On! Women in Sport symposium on March 31st intends to fill in the gaps missing from our exhibit  – to bring the achievements and history of Fraser Valley’s women athletes, coaches, participants and builders, out from the darkness and into the light.

A Personal Connection

Shannon Bettles goalie

I always wanted to be a goaltender, even at a young age.

I’m very excited that such an event is being held by the Chilliwack Museum and Archives in partnership with ViaSport. Today’s museums and archives are more than dust-collecting warehouses of ancient artifacts – they are about stories and relationships. Bringing builders and champions in female sport together to tell their past and present stories are part of what Museums and Archives are all about. Sharing, learning, growing and laughing together – we remember and move forward in a positive way.

I am proud that my father was a champion of women’s sports. In the 1980s he volunteered for the Aldergrove Ringette Association to develop and promote ringette, a sport today enjoyed by thousands of girls, boys, women and men across Canada. In 1995, he fought to obtain ice as he organized Langley’s first girls’ ice hockey association.

I’ve been very fortunate to have been involved in team sports like ice hockey, ringette and softball for over 30 years. The opportunities to participate in and represent my province and country in the sports of hockey and ringette would not have been possible without the hard work of the women and men before me who fought to level the field.

Shannon Bettles University of Guelph

Here I am playing goal for the University of Guelph Gryphons, 2001. I attended the first Canadian University Championships for women’s hockey in 1998.

I hope to see a packed house on March 31 to welcome our panelists and ViaSport guests at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives. I would be thrilled to see the next generation of young female athletes, coaches, officials and administrators fill the room alongside the veteran athletes. My dad’s wish for his daughters was that they continue to give back to and support women’s sport. I have taken the ViaSport #LevelTheField pledge, I hope you do too.

Curator: A Jack of All Trades

Posted on: February 4th, 2016 by Jane Lemke
Curatorial Project, 2015

One of last summer’s curatorial projects was to carefully remove the sugar and mould from the former Paramount Theatre’s popcorn machines (Summer Student Mikaela Ramdial and Curator Jane Lemke)

One of the hardest questions I receive is: “What is a Curator?”. My answer is often rather awkward and rushed because frankly, it’s a big question and concise answer would reduce the true nature of my tasks; however, my best definition so far is: I am responsible for preserving and interpreting Chilliwack’s tangible history. The long, rather jumbled definition is, I am:

• Part conservator
• Part researcher
• Part historian
• Part scientist
• Part reference clerk
• Part graphic designer
• Part carpenter
• Part electrician and so much more.

Each day is different and that is one of the reasons why I love my job.

A substantial amount of my daily tasks revolve around exhibits. Beginning an exhibit is often the hardest part as the wealth of information available is astounding and it is my job to construct a narrative out of all the information. The archival collection has over 500,000 records including maps, photos, oral histories and paper records and the artifact collection has over 10,000 objects that range in size from a postage stamp to building rafters to extremely heavy canoes. Each item accepted into our collection has a strong connection to Chilliwack and we are privileged to preserve these records and artifacts for the public so that the history of Chilliwack is accessible for a long time.

Booen Photograph, 003520

This Booen glass-plate negative depicts three First Nations women posing in “pioneer” clothing. Chilliwack Museum and Archives, P003520

Our upcoming exhibit focuses on photography and will open on September 22nd, 2016. I am currently still in the research stage, trying to piece together various details, such as the price of cameras in 1905, the types of photographic papers that were used in the 1930s and the people behind the photographs in our collection. It’s a long process that results in a (fingers crossed) beautiful exhibit that highlights the contributions, memories and innovations made by Chilliwack’s photographic community throughout our City’s history.

One itinerant photographer was James Orville Booen, who set up a photographic studio in 1895-1897 here in Chilliwack. While he wasn’t in Chilliwack long, what is remarkable about Booen’s images is the consistency of the photographer’s vision. The images consist of studio portraits, scenes, streetscapes and outdoor portraits, which provides a substantial glimpse into Chilliwack before the turn of the last century and is one of the first complete photographic collections we have of Chilliwackians including First Nations as well as Japanese, Chinese and other immigrant groups that are often missing from the historic record during this time.

Booen 000142

J.O. Booen’s portrait of Sarah Jane Muirhead and Flossie Hamilton holding rifles, exemplifies the “Wild West”. I did try to recreate Booen’s photo for our 2015 staff photos but for some reason, it didn’t look quite right.

One of my favorite photographs from the Booen Collection shows Sarah Jane Muirhead and Flossie Hamilton posing with rifles in the typical Victorian dress of the time. These women demonstrate the classic definition of a “pioneer woman”: strong, moral, and refined. The photographer’s scene construction is the cause, down to the feathers in their hats. Booen choose to display these women in this way and to evoke a sense of the “Wild West”.

Looking back through Chilliwack’s photographic history is truly an amazing treasure hunt. Stay tuned for more about our photography exhibit!

Coqualeetza’s Indian Residential Schools Olympiad

Posted on: December 16th, 2015 by Jane Lemke
P8151 Coqualeetza

Front view of the first Coqualeetza Indian Residential school building on Vedder Road in Sardis. Chilliwack Archives P8151

In light of the release of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, I was reminded of some research that I completed for our recently launched annual exhibition, Game On! The Evolution of Sports in Chilliwack, that never made it into the final cut of the exhibit text. On May 26-28 1931, Coqualeetza Indian Residential School in Sardis hosted the first Canadian Indian Residential Schools Olympiad. It was held at Coqualeetza with events rotating between the 2 other residential schools in the area and covered many aspects of sports; track a
nd field, soccer, basketball, badminton, softball, baseball and shooting. Coqualeetza won the Department of Indian Affairs championship shield, as the point total shows:

  • Coqualeetza Indian Residential School, Sardis                  170
  • St. George’s Indian Residential School, Lytton                  73.5
  • St. Michael’s Indian Residential School, Alert Bay             59.5

“A thrilling experience was a trip of the boys and girls basketball teams to play against St. George’s School at Lytton. The trip was unique in that we made the first bus trip over the ‘new’ Fraser Canyon Highway, which was just built. The road had numerous curves and in one mountainous stretch we counted twenty-two hairpin turns in a mile. At one point a large fir tree fell directly in front of the bus and had to be cleared away before we could proceed.”
– 
George Williams, Coqualeetza basketball coach, Chilliwack Archives, AM 456

P4284 Coqualeetza soccer

Group portrait Coqualeetza senior boys football team, winners of the cup in 1925-1926. Chilliwack Archives P4284

The event was meant to be an annual celebration of sport during an era when public recreation was just in its infancy. The health benefits of sports were only recently emerging as an important part of a balanced lifestyle. Athletics at Coqualeetza Indian Residential School were related to vigour and health in the new field of “Physical Education”.  It is during this era that BC established the Recreational and Physical Education Branch and the first Provincial Recreation program, a community-oriented scheme called Pro-Rec. The program was aimed at providing healthy recreation opportunities, especially amongst unemployed youths during the Depression – essentially the beginning of organized sports. Pro-Rec came to be the centre piece in provincial adult education programs and served as a model for recreation schemes in other provinces.

While the Indian Residential Schools Olympiad gave students a brief break from the highly regulated way of life that characterized most residential schools, this break was part of an assimilative strategy that was used to discipline their “savage” ways and, in turn, transform them into “normal” Canadian citizens. The policy of Canada’s residential schools was to remove children from the influence of their families and culture, and assimilate them into the dominant Canadian culture.[1]  Over the course of the system’s existence, about 30% of Indigenous children, or roughly 150,000, were placed in residential schools nationally. The program was funded by the Canadian government’s Indian Affairs and Northern Development, and administered by Christian churches, predominantly the Roman Catholic Church in Canada (60%), but also the Anglican Church of Canada (30%), and the United Church of Canada (including its pre-1925 constituent church predecessors) (10%).[2]

P7511 Coqualeetza staff

Group portrait of staff and senior students of Coqualeetza Residential School. Chilliwack Archives P7511

There has long been significant historiographical and popular controversy about the conditions experienced by students in the residential schools. While day schools for First Nations, Métis and Inuit children always far outnumbered residential schools, a new consensus emerged in the early 21st century that the latter schools did significant harm to Aboriginal children who attended them by removing them from their families, depriving them of their ancestral languages, through sterilization, and by exposing many of them to physical leading to sexual abuse by staff members, and other students, and enfranchising them forcibly.

The 1931 Olympiad is a spectacle of physical endurance and strength but also a stark reminder of the often hidden historical wrongs committed in BC communities. My research was never able to uncover whether the Olympiad continued in subsequent years. Records from the Department of Indian Affairs do not show whether the Olympiad was funded in subsequent budgetary cycles. However, there have been numerous “Indian” Olympiads in BC throughout the twentieth century.

 

[1] Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future. Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. May 2015.

[2] Oblates in the West, accessed at: http://oblatesinthewest.library.ualberta.ca/eng/impact/schools.html

The “Peppering” Traveling Baseball Team

Posted on: August 6th, 2015 by Jane Lemke

While completely losing myself in sports-related research for our upcoming Game On! The Evolution of Sports exhibit, I have come across a few gems. One such gem was the discovery of a traveling baseball team called the “House of David”.

The Israelite House of David was established as a religious community in Benton Harbor, Michigan, in 1903 by Benjamin Purnell, along with his wife Mary. The purpose of this colony was to gather the 12 lost tribes of Israel for the “Ingathering”, to await the Millennium. Benjamin Purnell, a sports enthusiastast, encouraged the playing of sports. The House of David started playing baseball around 1913 as a weekend endeavor and by 1915 the team was playing a more grueling schedule. By 1920, the team was “barnstorming” around the country, earning money for the colony, and using the team as a way to preach to potential members. While the team was on the road, the colony established a home team, a girl’s team, and a junior boys team. The players were led by its manager, Francis Thorpe and the team was originally comprised of members of the colony. The team was always an attraction by their long hair and beards, a doctrine of the religion, and would draw substantial crowds wherever they played. By the early 20’s, in need of participate with better playing abilities and by the lack of colony member participation, were in the business of hiring players not of the faith. These “Players for Hire” were required to grow a beard, and some played for the team for many years.

After a lengthy legal battle and subsequent death of Purnell, an internal power struggle for the colony ensued. After this struggle, the colony divided into two separate factions, and eventually two separate colonies. One was the Israelite House of David, whose members believed that Benjamin was the one and only leader, which was led by colony pillar Judge H. T. Dewhirst. This colony went by the moniker of “The House of David”.

Both factions of the House of David teams visited small communities all over Canada and the United States. Different House of David teams visited Chilliwack many times throughout the 1930s, playing local teams at Chilliwack’s Athletic Park. The August 1, 1935 article of the Chilliwack Progress remarked “Chilliwack fans got a big bang out of the famous ‘pepper’ tricks,” which were said to be along the lines of the fancy basketball moves of today’s Harlem Globetrotters. Many of the Chilliwack games raised funds for the Chilliwack Amateur Athletic Association but also provided lots of entertainment for hundreds of spectators. At fifty cents, it was quite a good bargain (valued at under $9 if adjusted for inflation).

Don’t miss our upcoming exhibit Game On! The Evolution of Sports in Chilliwack, which opens October 29!