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Official Blog of the Chilliwack Museum and Archives

Posts Tagged ‘school’

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.

Learning with Primary Sources

Posted on: October 13th, 2017 by Stephanie Clinton

“[The students] loved that the museum came to them,” commented a teacher who recently rented our newest local history kit, Community of Villages, which contains primary source reproductions from our archives. “Being in my class, instead of in the museum, they felt more freedom to ask questions and to interact with the materials provided.”

Over the past year we’ve been working on creating our local history kits in collaboration with the Chilliwack School District. These kits compliment our traditional 1-1.5 hr school programs as they expand on specific local history topics and allow teachers and students the freedom to explore the materials at their own pace.

Some of the reproductions in the Community of Villages kit.

Some of the reproductions in the Community of Villages kit.

With the new BC Curriculum in full swing this year, these kits focus on helping both teachers and students learn curricular competencies while exploring local topics. The Community of Villages kit specifically focuses on exploring the concept of “Continuity and Change” and helps students learn how to explain why some aspects of their communities have changed over time while others have stayed the same.

Learning with the primary sources in their hands provides a concrete real connection to the past for the students. Each kit comes with specific lesson plans and activity suggestions for a variety of grades, but sometimes all you need is a few simple prompts to get students talking and exploring on their own. Here are a few hints for learning with primary sources from our Community of Villages kit:

  • Sequencing – Have students work together to sequence a series of photographs from oldest to newest. This will get them talking about the quality of the photographs, the clothes people are wearing, the different modes of transportation and so on.
  • Compare and Contrast – Using photographs or newspaper articles, have students compare one from the past and one contemporary example. Have them chart the differences and similarities they can find.
  • Maps – Have students compare a current map of Chilliwack with an historic one. Questions come naturally about the changes in the city over time.
  • Location Mapping – Have students match historic photos to a current map or vice versa. Get them to locate their home or school on the map to see how their area has changed or stayed the same over time.

In many cases, I’ve found that the primary sources speak for themselves and that student’s curiosity is sparked and questions come naturally when they get to interact with the materials first hand.

If you have any questions or suggestions about learning with primary sources, feel free to get in touch with me at [email protected]!

Back to School

Posted on: September 6th, 2016 by Stephanie Clinton

Students of all ages have been packing up their school bags and heading out to school this week. This past month we’ve been getting ready for the school year as well by reviewing and updating our school programs. We offer programs with a local history twist that align with the BC Curriculum. If you’ve been booking with us for years or are new to the Chilliwack Museum and Archives school programs, we have some updates for you!

New this year:

Learning about changes in Technology over time with our Techno Quilt program.

Learning about changes in Technology over time with our Techno Quilt program.

Our Five Corners program has been adapted to fit with the Grade 1 and 2 Socials Curriculum and expanded to include more communities in Chilliwack. This program is now named ‘My Community’. When booking, teachers may choose a community focus for the presentation, Five Corners and Yarrow are currently available. We will be updating with more options as the school year progresses.

Our Full Steam Ahead program for Grades 4 and 5 has been updated with a new activity to help students learn more about the Cariboo Gold Rush and its impact on our own community.

Guided Exhibit Tours are available for all grades when our new temporary exhibit, Photography from Obscura to App, opens. As well, Guided Walking Tours of downtown Chilliwack will be available in May and June of 2017.

From October – May we will be offering a program for Grades 4+ based on our current exhibit, Photography from Obscura to App. This program takes students on a journey through the changes in photography over time and includes a hands-on activity.

Book online and learn more about our programs here.

Is there a specific local history topic you are interested in exploring with your students? You can always contact me with your questions or program requests at [email protected]

We’re looking forward to the 2016-2017 school year!