I recently had the pleasure of preserving, arranging and describing St. Andrew's church's records for the Grimsby Museum. The collection's items offer an invaluable record of the development of early Grimsby and Niagara history, when Empire Loyalist families settled in the area. Several prominent figures were involved in the church’s history, including Colonel Robert Nelles, who served during the War of 1812 and was also appointed to the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada. These records provide a detailed narrative of the Niagara region and development of the Anglican Church from the 1790s until present day, as well as many pivotal events prior to and after Confederation in 1867.
Particular records and artifacts of interest include:
Of course, this is a small taste, as the collection is so rich. Click here to access the collection's arrangement list for a quick snapshot of the records. Click here if you are interested in looking at the archival description, which provides researchers with an in-depth look at the collection (including an administrative history). If you are interested in accessing any of these records, please contact the Grimsby Museum.
Thank you to the Grimsby Museum, Adam Montgomery (who assisted with the administrative history and taking photographs) and St. Andrew's Church. Thank you to Olia Jurychuk for sending me a copy of Linus Woolverton's will, which detailed information about the church's lych gate.
Recently, the museum received a kind donation from the Estate of Joyce Cunningham, consisting of five beaded items dating to the 1910s. Born in 1928, Joyce was a long-time Atikokan resident who loved gardening, preserving, crocheting and feeding Whiskey Jacks. Her husband, Harold, was a heavy equipment operator who worked the shovel at Caland Mine. Joyce inherited these beautiful beaded pieces from her mother, Erie Hann, who immigrated to Thunder Bay from England in 1901. Born in 1899, Erie would have been well-versed in several types of domestic work, including beading and embroidery. Her grandson, Bruce, and grand-daughter-in-law, Nancy, state that Erie made the 1914 keepsake pillow seen below, and also believe that she hand-crafted the other pieces as well.
Beaded clothing and accessories have been an art form practiced for thousands of years by individuals from various cultures around the world. Delicately beaded handbags became popular in the Victorian era, making glass beads a major part of domestic textile art. Beading and embroidery played a central role in the daily lives of middle class women and their female children. They spent countless hours embroidering their purses as a way to attract prospective mates. Purses like the one seen in the photographs above can be viewed as a wearable sampler that allowed women to showcase their domestic abilities. The 1847 Quarterly Review stated that, "dress becomes a sort of symbolic language - a kind of personal glossary...[and] every woman walks around with a placard on which her leading qualities are advertised."
In the later decades of the 1800s beaded purses saw a decline in popularity, only to see a resurgence again at the beginning of the 20th century. The keepsake pillow seen here was decorated with the date 1914, showing that the popularity for this aesthetic returned at this time. During the First World War, beading continued to be a fashion trend. In 1914, The Times fashion columnist reported that “these bead bags carry us straight back fifty years to the days of hoop skirts and muslin tuckers, lace mitts and pantalettes…” Perhaps the volatility and uncertainty of this period left women with a longing for the past, and beaded items satisfied their need for the golden age.
 Informal Interview with Bruce and Nancy Cunningham, June 13, 2017.
 Random History. Fashion is in the Bag: A History of Handbags. http://www.randomhistory.com/2008/10/01_handbag.html, (accessed June 13, 2017)
 Helene E Roberts. "The Exquisite Slave: The Role of Clothing in the Making of the Victorian Woman," Sings: The Role of Women in Culture and Society, vol. 2, no. 3., 1977., 554.
 Hoag Levins. Beaded Bags and Industrial History: Six Hundred Years of Glittering Commerce, 2005, historiccamdencounty.com/ccnews98.shtml. (accessed June 13, 2017)
Last winter I organized an archival fonds consisting of forty years of documentation produced by Quetico Centre, a conference and education centre in Northwestern Ontario. This was a joint project for Athabasca University and the Atikokan Centennial Museum. This post describes my experiences organizing the project- my first attempt to create a fonds. Archival work requires both practical and theoretical knowledge to ensure that the documents are well cared for and properly organized. I ensured that all materials were handled in a way that complied with conservation and collection standards; however, this post will focus on the theoretical framework I used to complete the project.
Creating the Fonds
The Quetico Centre Fonds project was completed in compliance with RAD, a standardized process of arranging and describing documentary heritage used in archival science. This method uses the principles of provenance, original order, and respect des fonds to dictate how documents are arranged. Provenance refers to the individual, family or corporate/administrative body that produced the materials being archived. In this case, Quetico Centre was a corporation that produced the documentation. Original order and respect des fonds are important archival considerations which state that documents must be kept in the order in which their creator originally kept them. This method of arrangement provides a context used for better understanding the documents' meaning, both individually and in relation to the others in the collection. Throughout the project the original order of the documents, if it could be established, was kept. For instance, the board of director materials were kept in the order in which Quetico Centre administrators originally filed them. However, it is not always possible/most beneficial to keep the original order. For example, there was a box of various newsletters where it was apparent that an order was never established; they were just thrown together. In this instance, to better assist researchers, I decided to create an order, putting each newsletter in chronological order. This way the evolution of the Centre could be traced through the examination of developments over time.
Prior to arranging materials, I examined how the archival field had evolved over time to determine how archivists ascribed meaning to documents. This decision was particularly important because, in some cases, I had to make decisions about which materials to keep and which ones to discard. The Atikokan Centennial Museum has limited storage space, thus not all materials could be kept (a decision which was reached by the Curator, myself and our donors.)
Hans Boom, in his article, "Society and the Formation of a Documentary Heritage: Issues in the Appraisal of Archival Studies," shed light on this complex matter. His article outlined archival historiography and displayed how the field has evolved by showing the attempted creation of guidelines for accepting and rejecting archival documentation. The earliest assumptions were that a decision about what was to be kept or thrown away could be made on a case-by-case basis. As the need for archives increased, this was no longer a viable solution. Scholars attempted to create formal guidelines for creating a documentary heritage. Wilhelm Rohr, for example, introduced a hierarchical gradation, meaning that the producers of documentation were placed on a hierarchical scale in order to determine the value of the documents. Meinert took this idea a step further by stating that only the creator of the document could give it meaning. Meanwhile, Fritz Zimmerman proposed that the value of archival documentation is derived from human interest and need; therefore, human demand gives documents their value. Boom argued that this could not be possible because it would be too difficult to predict what historians would want to use in the future. According to Boom, there has not been a suitable answer to the problem of how to properly form a documentary heritage. He provided his own solution, stating that the value of a document can only be determined by a comprehensive view of society. In other words, archivists cannot use contemporary value systems to judge documentation. Rather, they need to adopt the value systems of the time period in question to properly determine what documents to accept or reject.
I decided to use Hans Boom’s theory as the foundation of my project. To accomplish this, I read several books about education during the time period in which Quetico Centre operated, as well as books about Northern Ontario education. This research helped to place Quetico Centre’s history within the larger adult education narrative, as well as geographic place. I also read local history books which provided me with nuanced details about the Centre’s operations. This information gave me a better understanding of the Centre’s values and philosophies.
The information acquired from these readings provided me a context in which to judge the collection's documentation. I felt more confident in making decisions about which documents to keep. For example, several pamphlets discussing adult education in Mexico were disposed of. The information in these pamphlets may have influenced Quetico Centre’s philosophy; however, they were never alluded to in any of its Director's speeches or writings. There were several other pamphlets that included information on broader adult education topics that seemed to be more pertinent to the collection. It should be noted that all documentation, before its removal was checked with one of the collection's donors (the Director's widow). She provided her opinion about the materials and verified if their removal seemed appropriate. This practice was done out of respect for our donor, who lived the history we were organizing and was an invaluable resource throughout the project.
After organizing the fonds I created a finding aid. The aid's purpose was to assist both researchers and museum staff by providing easy access to the collection. RAD-compliant descriptions were used to ensure an easy to use, standardized document was produced. These descriptions help users gain a better idea of what the collection encompasses so that they can make decisions about what documents will be useful for their research. The fonds's description gives documents context by providing historical details about Quetico Centre's establishment, its key players and educational vision. Good descriptions mean that researchers can search for documents in a more independent manner. Thus, museum staff can spend less time helping the researcher, and more time on other museum duties, like cataloguing.
To further assist future researchers I created several documents to accompany the finding aid, including: a time line of important dates, biographies of people involved with the Centre’s activities, and a booklet entitled, Quetico Centre: Learning Through Discovery. This booklet places the Centre within the context of adult education in Canada. It will be sold to visitors in the museum's gift shop and handed out at the Quetico Centre exhibit opening in June.
The Final Product: Images and Finding Aid
I feel that the project was a success. I can say with absolute certainty that I have a new appreciation for the amount of work archivists undertake to organize collections. It consists of many hours of unseen and rigorous labour. As a researcher I feel I have a better appreciation of the work involved.
If you are a researcher interested in Canadian adult education, education in northern Ontario, or Atikokan history, check out the finding aid below.
 Jean Dryden and Kent M. Haworth. Developing Descriptive Standards: A Call to Action. Occasional Paper No. 1. Ottawa: Bureau of Canadian Archivists, 1987, 1-15., 1.
 Wendy M. Duff and Marlene Van Ballegooie. “The Foundations of RAD.” In RAD Revealed: A Basic Primer on the Rules for Archival Description. Canadian Council of Archives, 2001., 2.
 Ibid., 3.
 Hans Boom. “Society and the Formation of a Documentary Heritage: Issues in the Appraisal of Archival Science.” Archivaria 24, 1987., 90.
 Ibid., 95-96.
 Ibid., 91.
 Wendy M. Duff and Marlene Van Ballegooie. “The Foundations of RAD,” 2.
The Atikokan Centennial Museum has a wonderful exhibit space dedicated to Indigenous history. As this region has a rich Indigenous history dating back 9,000 years, there are many different types of artifacts on display. To offer a few examples, we have hung three beautifully decorated tikinagans in our gallery space. These artifacts are a traditional handicraft made by Ojibway women. Mothers originally used tikinagans as a swaddling cradle to carry their babies. The museum also displays various tools from the Basil Montague Battley Collection. One notable tool is a copper hook that was said (by the donor) to have originated in the western United States. If this story is true, it demonstrates how vast the trading networks were; however, this assertion has never been verified by the museum. Another artifact to note is the regalia loaned to the museum by Jaret Veran, a local Métis man, who danced in the opening ceremonies of the 2010 winter Olympics. These artifacts, and the other objects in the collection, remind visitors that Atikokan's story did not begin with European contact. Since putting up the exhibit, the museum has made efforts to partner with the Atikokan Native Friendship Centre (ANFC). With their assistance, the museum hopes to make the gallery a place that properly represents Indigenous stories in the narratives presented.
Jaret Veran wore this regalia to dance at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics. The regalia was made by members of his family: Jack Veran, Allison Durand, Evelyn Veran and Linda Fogg. The artwork seen here was done by Linda Fogg. On loan to the Atikokan Centennial Museum by Jaret Veran.
My primary job at the museum has been digitizing the collection. I mainly work with photographs. As I have digitized the records, I have noticed that there were many wonderful photographs of the local Indigenous population in our records. I thought that including photographs in our displays would be a great way to give the space a more human element, giving a face to the community. Moreover, since the museum has limited documentation of the local Indigenous population, our Curator, Lois and I thought that it would be great to have the community help us identify some of the people in these photographs. This idea was partly inspired by the project naming initiative undertaken by Library and Archives Canada.
I recently read an article entitled, "Shadows and Sacred Geography: First Nations History-Making from an Alberta Perspective," which stated that Indigenous photographs "represent personal and emotional memories for them and through them a First Nations viewer may come face to face with past relatives for the first time. Archival photographs constitute for some Native people their earliest, possibly only 'family albums.'"" This idea served as my inspiration. Although I knew that the authors were not talking about an album in the literal sense, I thought that making an album was a great idea. I pulled together all of the photographs I have found thus far (31 in total), and Lois took my scans to get printed. Copies were used in the album to ensure the protection of the originals (which I can say are safety nestled back in their archival boxes.)
I knew what my goals were with this project, but I was not sure the best way to execute it. Lois suggested that I put a page in with every photograph so that people could write information down. This was a good suggestion because it could help us acquire more information, which would undoubtedly result in a more encompassing collection, and it was a way for people to interact with the material we present. I had a fun arts and crafts afternoon putting the project together.
The album turned out great, and it now accompanies our Indigenous history exhibit. In addition, Lois plans on bringing the album to a drop-in session at the ANFC. We hope that this project will allow us to make a greater connection to the local Indigenous population. We will be thrilled to include any information learned about the photographs in our accession records. Our collection is not all-encompassing, but we work hard to make it as inclusive as possible.
 Michael Ross and Reg Crowshoe. Shadows and Sacred Geography: First Nations History-Making from an Alberta Perspective. In Making Histories in Museums. Edited by Gaynor Kavanagh. London and New York: Leicester University Press, 1996., 245.
In 1968 the Atikokan Centennial Museum received a donation of military artifacts from Florence Ransom. One of these artifacts was a Next of Kin War Memorial Plaque featuring the name of her husband, Reginald Ransom. During World War I over 1,000,000 of these plaques were issued to family members in commemoration of those who died in service.
In 2014 our Curator, Lois Fenton, researched Reginald Ransom and the 52nd Battalion he fought with. She noticed that his attestation papers named his next of kin as his mother, Susan. This information showed that Florence and Reginald were married while he was fighting overseas.
Sadly, Reginald Ransom never came home. He died serving our country on February 24th, 1917.
This information made us wonder, how did his new English bride end up living in Atikokan, Ontario?
Reginald became good friends with army mate John Alexander ("Sandy") Johnston. Before his death, he made Sandy promise to take care of Florence if anything should happen to him. Sandy stayed true to his word. The rest of this story will unfold throughout this exhibit as the lives of these two veterans are recounted.
This exhibit was originally put together as a special presentation for the Atikokan cadets, who were getting ready for a trip to Vimy Ridge. The displays were temporary, kept up for only two days. Aside from the cadets, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 145 members were also invited to explore the exhibit space. Due to the exhibit's short duration, we thought that a virtual exhibit was a great way to share these veterans' stories with the local community and other Canadians.
This virtual exhibit is an Atikokan Centennial Museum project. As it is hosted on my private blog, I feel that it is important to acknowledge the people who helped put it together. The local history was researched by Lois Fenton and Sandy Johnston's daughter, Nancy Fotheringham. Nancy kindly loaned many of the objects seen in this blog and this is acknowledged in the photographs' captions. I was responsible for giving the artifacts context through discussions of a broader military history. I also scanned and photographed all of the artifacts. The information presented has been fact-checked by military and medical historian Dr. Adam Montgomery.
Sandy Johnston (1889-1965)
Sandy was born in 1889 in Dresden, Ontario. Like many men of his period, he had different vocations throughout his life. He was mechanically and mathematically inclined, spending time in Detroit learning the mechanics of the new car industry. As a young man he also moved to Port Arthur (present day Thunder Bay) to work as an accountant in the lumber camps. In 1915, shortly after the war erupted, he volunteered for service as a Private in the 52nd battalion. That December, the battalion left for England, and by 1916 he was stationed in France.
The 52nd Battalion was part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). The CEF was "the collective name given to the military structure created in 1914 in which some 620,000 Canadians served overseas during World War I." This Force did not include the Canadians who served in the navy, merchant marine, or the Royal Air Force. In other words, the CEF was "Canada's wartime army overseas." In total, 260 numbered CEF battalions were formed during the war.
Sandy worked within the Canadian Signal Corp, laying and maintaining communication lines. In 1916 he was promoted to Signalling Sergeant. 
Easter weekend of 1917 saw one of Canada's most iconic battles, Vimy Ridge. "Weeks of planning, map-studying and platoon tactics rehearsal climaxed when 15,000 soldiers charged into heavy German machine gun fire, behind a wall of precisely placed Canadian artillery shells." The troops stormed up the ridge, a task which had previously caused 150,000 French and British casualties, and were successful in dislodging the Germans from their strongholds. But this victory did not come without a loss. After three days of fighting 3,598 Canadian troops were dead and 7,000 were wounded. This event was the first time that all divisions of the CEF fought together, and this included Sandy Johnston.
It was also discovered that Sandy fought in the Battle of Passchendaele. In October of 1917 the 52nd Battalion led the 3rd division attack. An October 22, 1917 Battalion War Diary entry stated that he "went forward in busses (sic) to look at the new front line." This information was verified by John Easson, a retired major, after he corresponded with Nancy.
Sandy was awarded the Military Medal for the maintenance of communications while under enemy fire at Vimy Ridge. His award was listed in the London Gazette, 9 July 1917.
Sandy was awarded two other medals for his service, the first being the Allied Victory Medal. Approximately 5.7 million of these medals were issued during the Great War. To be a recipient "an individual had to have entered a theatre of war (an area of active fighting), not just served overseas." The rainbow ribbon represents the combined colours of the Allied nations. The front of the medal depicts a winged classic figure, an image that represents freedom. The back of the medal reads, "The Great War for Civilisation 1914-1919." Each allied nation issued a medal of a similar design, similar wording, and identical ribbon.
The second medal was the British War Medal. Approximately 6.4 million of these medals were issued by the British government to those who had represented the British and Imperial Forces at any point of the war.
Before the end of the war, Sandy was commissioned as an officer in the Royal Flying Corp (which later became the Royal Air Force.) Nancy stated that her father "was given the chance to get a commission and learn to fly because of his bravery in the field at Vimy for which he received a Military Medal." Obtaining a position in the Air Force was seen as prestigious, as the task required more skill and innate physical characteristics such as good eyesight. Becoming an air pilot also meant an escape from the trenches. Nancy expressed that, "it was a chance [for her father] to escape with honour." His first flight was in August of 1918; his last was in January 1919.
Reginald Ransom (1887-1916)
Reginald Ransom was born on July 22, 1887 in London, England. His attestation papers stated that he was from O'Connor, Ontario and that he identified as a labourer. He joined the 52nd Battalion in Port Arthur on February 18, 1916.
As mentioned above, Reginald was a casualty of the Great War. Lois states that when, "reading the battalion's war record one feels the impending doom, the great carnage of war, the timeline to his death." He was buried at Petit-Vimy British Cemetery in France.
Florence Ransom (1888-1967)
Reginald's wife, Florence, moved to Canada under Sandy Johnston's care after the war. He provided her employment; she managed his general store in Atikokan for nine years. At this time, the store bought and sold furs in the fur trade. In an Atikokan Progress newspaper article, she fondly recalled her delight in the Indigenous population bringing in furs, stating that it "was a colourful occasion to see them trading their furs far into the night." At this time Atikokan was a very small, remote community with a population of 300. It was so small, in fact, that she recalled there being only two stores. Even after she stopped managing Sandy's store, Florence remained close to the Johnston family for many years.
Florence remained a widow for the rest of her life. She was very active in Legion activities, and it can be assumed that this was a way to honour her late husband. Below, among other notable artifacts, note her Certificate of Merit, awarded to her by the Ladies Auxiliary of the 145 Legion branch.
Sandy Johnston Post WWI
After the war, Sandy spent a year working as a demobilization officer in Port Arthur. He then became owner of the McKenzie Inn, east of Thunder Bay. As alluded to above, in 1925 he moved to Atikokan, where he purchased a general store from the town's founder, Tom Rawn. In addition to buying and selling furs, he acted as the postmaster for the community until 1947. He continued his military service later in life. During the Second World War he served as a recruiting officer for the Port Arthur area. After that endeavour he owned and operated the Imperial Oil Agency in Atikokan until his retirement in 1953. On top of his other great achievements, Sandy also served as reeve of Atikokan for five years, 1956-1960.
Throughout his life, Sandy maintained a strong interest in the Canadian Legion, Atikokan Branch No. 145. In fact, he served as its president from 1941 to 1948. The Legion offered a place for returning veterans to come together to discuss their shared experiences.
Sandy married Myrtle Rawn and they had three daughters: Judy and twins Nancy and Patricia. Although he had a rich post-war life, injuries to his feet were a silent reminder of what he had endured.
A museum label of Atikokan's World War I Veterans. This information was taken from an Atikokan War Veterans database created by Adam Montgomery & Stephanie Bellissimo on behalf of the Atikokan Centennial Museum. All Atikokan war veterans' gravestones with visible military markings were photographed and compiled into a list. This list is not conclusive. If a veteran chose not to have any military insignia on their stones, or if they were buried outside of Atikokan, their information was not included. If you have someone to add, please let us know! Leave a comment below. Include the person's name, corp, rank, birth and death dates (if known) and we will update our records.
This exhibit commemorates the 100th anniversary of the battle at Vimy Ridge and the sacrifices that individuals, communities and the nation made for our freedom. Commemoration is important; however, events like these should not just be remembered on anniversaries. It is important to take a moment every now and then to acknowledge the ever-enduring strength of the human spirit to fight for what is believed to be right. Many of these men paid the ultimate sacrifice for their convictions. Reginald's inscription of "death before dishonor" inside his Bible (seen above) speaks to this. We are eternally grateful for these men's brave actions. They will always be remembered.
 The Next of Kin Memorial Plaque & Scroll. http://www.greatwar.co.uk/memorials/memorial-plaque.htm (accessed February 27, 2017)
 Information gathered from Sandy Johnston's military records, form R-122, Reg'l No 438593.
 J.L. Granatstein and Dean Oliver. The Oxford Companion to Canadian Military History (Oxford University Press, 2011), 85.
 Philip J. Haythornthwaite. The World War One Source Book (London : Arms and Armour, 1992) 159.
 Ibid., 159.
 Information gathered from Sandy Johnston's military records, form R-122, Reg'l No 438593.
 Canadian Geographic and the Walrus, The Story of Canada in 150 Objects: Collector's Edition, 2017., 14.
 War Diary, 52nd Battalion, Army Form C. 2118., October 22, 1917.
 Philip J. Haythornthwaite. The World War One Source Book, 161.
 Unknown author, Service Chevrons, http://www.canadiansoldiers.com/insignia/service.htm (accessed February 27, 2017)
 Imperial War Museums. British World War One Service Medals, http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/first-world-war-service-medals (accessed February 17, 2017)
 Information recorded in Sandy Johnston's Flight Training Manual.
 Commonwealth War Grave Commission, Reginald Joseph Ransom, http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/531249/RANSOM,%20REGINALD%20JOSEPH (accessed February 27, 017)
 Atikokan Progress. Roles as Early Shopkeeper Here Recalled by Mrs. Flo Ransome, date unknown. [throughout the records Ransom was either spelled "Ransome" or "Ransom." The Museum has chosen to use "Ransom" as this is how the name is spelled on official records.
 Atikokan Progress. J.A. Johnston Obituary, May 13, 1965.
Wassy and Eddie Trudeau's Love Story Expressed Through Documentary Heritage and Material Culture: A Virtual Exhibit
P.E. "Eddie" and Wassy Trudeau (née Zdan) were married on June 26th 1948, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Throughout their marriage Eddie worked as a Bridge and Buildings Foreman for the Canadian National Railway (CNR.) Due to the nature of his work, the couple moved throughout the Port Arthur Division of the CNR until they settled in Atikokan. Before her marriage, Wassy worked as a school teacher. In Atikokan she performed office work at the General Motors and Ford dealerships.
A biography written about the couple by an unknown source described Eddie as a man who "loved his career and was a committed God fearing man and a loving husband..." Eddie and Wassy were married for forty-two years.
Wassy had a creative spirit. She enjoyed crocheting, knitting, embroidery, sewing and tailoring and crafts. Eddie "enjoyed being a critic of Wassy's knitting and crochet work" and encouraged her to showcase her work at local fairs. It should be noted that one of her afghans was valued at $1000 at an exhibition in 1986. She also made her wedding dress and veil seen in the photographs above.
The couple was stylish, as demonstrated by the hats above. Can you picture them going out for a night on the town?
Eddie traveled throughout Northwestern Ontario for his work. The envelopes addressed to "Mrs. P.E. Trudeau" seen above were stamped in Winnipeg and Sioux Lookout. Eddie never missed giving Wassy an anniversary, birthday or Valentine's Day card, even while away from home.
When reading Eddie's cards it seems he was a man of little words. However, the card's messages and artwork were filled with beautiful sentiments. The cards shown in this online exhibit make up only a small fraction of the cards that Eddie sent his wife; preserved by the Atikokan Museum.
There are many ways to analyze the sentiments of commercialized cards.
To offer an example, scholar Emily West explains that the ready-made statements suggest that people's emotions are universal, and that "the industry can meet the nation's social expression needs by customizing these core insights."
But for many, the meaning of greeting cards comes more from the time spent picking them out, rather than what they say. West states that "much of [the card's] communicative power comes from how they index the time and effort, both emotional and physical, of the sender who must leave their home, enter the marketplace, select the 'right' card, fill it out and mail it."
The sentiments that Eddie chose to express to his wife through greeting cards were very heartfelt. Giving cards to Wassy was something that appeared to be very important to him, so he most likely spent time trying to find the 'right' one to capture how he felt.
Wassy kept all of the cards given to her throughout the years, showing her sentimental nature. Of the cards that make up this collection, only a select few were from Wassy to her husband. This could be either because she did not send him as many cards, or for whatever reason those cards were not kept.
The card below sent from Wassy showcases her sense of humour.
Eddie gave his wife many cards throughout their marriage. The last one in the collection is from 1989, a year before his passing.
These artifacts represent a beautiful Atikokan love story, now captured in time for future generations to enjoy.
Happy Valentine's Day from the Atikokan Centennial Museum.
Ps. don't forget to spend time picking out beautiful cards for your partner, as they might end up in the museum one day!
 Biography of Wassy and Eddie Trudeau, Ed Brasseur Collection 2016.30.40.6, Atikokan Centennial Museum
 West, Emily. "Mass Producing the Personal: The Greeting Card Industry's Approach to Commercial Sentiment." Popular Communication. 2008, Vol. 6 Issue 4, 231-247., 231.
 West, Emily. "Expressing the Self through Greeting Card Sentiment." International Journal of Cultural Studies. 2010, Vol. 13 Issue 5, 451-469, 453.
Nurturing, Resourceful, Strong, Perseverance, Capable, Well-Rounded, Independent, Indispensable, Hopeful, Fun-Loving, Assertive, Caring, Capable, Awesome, Responsible, Loving, Determined, Kind, Caring, Stronger Emotionally, Competent, Conscientious, Adaptable, Enlightened, Intelligent, Flexible, Smart, Committed, Strong, Beautiful.
These are some of the words our visitors used to describe women during our celebration of 100 years of women's suffrage event. Thirty people came out to spend the evening engaging with women's national, provincial and local stories.
Our museum's Curator, Lois Fenton, asked me to create a public history evening so that I could gain experience in public programming. I worked hard all summer, with help from Lois and our volunteer Joan McIntosh, preparing a presentation and temporary exhibit. I spent much of the fall advertising for the event by writing newspaper articles, handing out posters to local businesses and doing a radio ad. I was very excited about the topic we chose because I thought this would be a great way to celebrate local women who live in a male-dominated environment. Also, as any archivist, museum worker or historian knows, collections often focus on male experiences. This event was not only a great way to highlight women's achievements but it acted as a stimulus for collecting their stories. It was a very successful event so I thought that I would share what was put together.
The signs below greeted guests as they walked toward our event space in the back of the museum. They were used to engage visitors and to get them to think about the progress women have made over the last 100 years.
I decided to focus my presentation around the larger provincial and national narrative. I focused my discussion on the women's suffrage movement and on the Royal Commission on the Status of Women. These stories gave context so that the exhibit could be better appreciated. After my presentation, we asked our guests to spend time viewing (with their wine and cheese) the exhibit space that featured local women's stories and achievements.
What was Women's Suffrage?
The women's suffrage movement was a decades-long struggle intended to address fundamental societal issues of equality and injustice felt by women- and this included the right to vote.
Many credit Dr. Emily Howard Stowe with initiating the woman's suffrage movement in Canada. In the 1860s Stowe supported her invalid husband and three children. She scrimped and saved until she had enough money to enter the medical profession. The only problem was that women were not granted acceptance into Canadian medical schools. Undeterred from her goal, she entered the Women's New York Medical School. Doctors who were accredited in the United States needed to take further medical courses in Canada in order to obtain their Canadian license. Even with her degree, the University of Toronto refused her entry to their program. It was not until 1871 that Stowe and Jenny Trout were admitted. This was a momentous occasion as they were the first two women to attend lectures at the Toronto School of Medicine.
Click here to view a Heritage Moment Clip featuring Emily Howard Stowe and Jennie Trout. (Poor Dr. McFarland never saw what was coming!)
Throughout the rest of her life Stowe would be an advocate of Woman's Suffrage, creating groups like the Toronto Woman's Suffrage Association and the Dominion Women's Enfranchisement Association.
The suffrage movement was not just an Ontario endeavour; there were many women across the country advocating for similar goals of equality, basic human rights, and the right to vote. In fact, Manitoba was the first province to allow women the right vote in January of 1916, with many provinces and territories soon following in example. Women in Ontario were allowed to vote in 1917. Quebec was the last province to follow suit with women given the right to vote in 1940. All women were given the right to vote in federal elections in 1919.
However, these successes did not mean that all women could enjoy this new privileged. In fact, Asian men and women could not vote until after the Second World War. Likewise, Aboriginal men and women did not receive the right to vote until 1960. This was because they were seen as wards of the crown under the Indian Act, and were thus excluded from voting, except in rare cases.
Below are several of our museums labels featuring women from the time of suffrage, photographs courtesy of the Atikokan Centennial Museum.
How were Men and Women Viewed at this time?
To understand the suffrage movement better, we should look out how men and women were historically viewed. Men were seen to be of the public sphere: they were rational, motivated by reason, political, strong, and the breadwinner. Women were seen as quite the opposite being of the private sphere and being irrational, motivated by emotions, weak, and domestic. To offer an example, throughout history women were healers. They were early pharmacists; midwives; and doctors without degrees- healing family and community members alike. However, in the 19th century there was a rise in medical science that placed the specially trained medic ahead of the self-taught healer. Women were refused access to teaching institutions, much like what happened to Emily Stowe. Essentially, women were now refused technologies in the field that they had contributed to for hundreds of years. This is because the medical profession moved to the public sphere, somewhere inaccessible to women. Actions like these fuelled the suffrage movement, leading women to take agency in hopes of changing their social position and status.
Why was the Suffrage Movement Important?
During this time women were stepping into the public sphere to advocate for basic rights; pushing the envelop allowing for future generations to make a choice between the private and public sphere. Gaining suffrage did not just mean that women could vote- but they could step inside of a world that traditionally belonged to men.
Royal Commission on the Status of Women
Fast Forward fifty years to 1967. Women now had the right to vote. More and more women had jobs outside of the home. A greater number of women were becoming educated. Progress had been made, but there was still a long way to go. Sensing the gender gap, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson decided to establish a Royal Commission on the Status of Women. This was a direct response to a months-long campaign by a coalition of 32 women's groups led in Ontario. Tensions were high, and these groups threatened a march of two million strong on Parliament.
The mandate of this Commission was to inquire into a report on the Status of Women in Canada, and to make specific recommendations to the federal government to ensure equality. 468 briefs were reviewed; 1000 letters read, all confirming the widespread problems faced by women in Canadian society. Some of these issues included: equal pay; establishment of maternity leave; a national child care policy; birth control and abortion rights; family law reform; education; and women's access to managerial positions. There was a large section that also addressed issues specific to Aboriginal women. This movement is considered the second wave of feminism, with women's suffrage being the first.
All 167 recommendations made by the Commission were based on the core principle that equality between men and women was possible, desirable and ethically necessary. The findings led to the creation of the Minister responsible for the Status of Women in 1971. By 1980, most of the report's recommendations had been partially or fully implemented.
Below find a sample from our exhibit that features women from the time of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women.
Why was this significant?
The Commission helped unite women to a great extent, by giving them a voice in shaping gender-responsive policies. Not only did it shine a light on the problems faced by women, it also led to important social victories like an equal minimum wage and maternity leave. That is not to say that this commission fixed the equality problem. Presently, women still face challenges in society. However, the gap is slowly shrinking, with help of initiatives like women's suffrage and the Royal Commission on the Status of Women.
What was life like for Atikokan Women?
The story of women in Atikokan was born when Mary Rawn and her husband Tom founded the town in 1899. Many women, like Mary, were faced with battling the wilderness for survival. Over the years, Atikokan developed and thrived largely due to the extraction of resources in the surrounding area, at the time requiring male strength to conquer. Men put the town on the map; women made Atikokan what it is today. As the population grew, and women were stepping further into the public sphere, many positive changes began to take shape. For instance, many clubs, like the Women's Institute, did immeasurable things for the community. We also begin to see women stepping up to the entrepreneurial plate, and now women own most businesses in town. There are also many examples of women entering male dominated industries and professions, like rangering and mining to name a few.
A display featuring Janice Matichuk's hard earned awards - the Award of Valour, the Governor General Award for providing assistance to others in a selfless manner, the Award of Merit and the Ministry of Natural Resources PRIDE Service Award, among her other outstanding achievements. Janice worked as a Park Ranger for Quetico Provincial Park, a very male dominated profession, in which she excelled. All objects are on loan.
Lois, Joan and I spent three days setting up the exhibit space. We split the display areas into three sections: women at the time of suffrage, women at the time of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women and a display featuring the contemporary story of Janice Matichuk as a Park Ranger at Quetico Provincial Park. The lists and labels we created for the display were not comprehensive, there were women that we missed. For instance, we did not include Aboriginal or Metis women in the displays. This is not because we do not consider their experiences as part of the narrative. It is because, unfortunately, we do not have any archival records in our collections that share their stories. Thus, this exhibit became a stimulus to enter a wider discussion of women's experiences within our community. During the event we handed out forms asking visitors to record stories about themselves or other women from the community. By filling out these forms they helped add to our collection, which will allow us to craft a more encompassing future narrative.
Quiz on the Status of Women
I created a quiz that was administered to guests as they entered the event space. The purpose of this quiz was to either challenge or reinforce visitor's perceptions of women. We took up the answers together at the end of my presentation. The quiz was an eye opener; I was surprised by some of the findings when I put it together.
I asked our guests not to change their answers when we took up the quiz because I wanted to quantify their responses. Our guests answered the majority of the questions correctly. However, there were a few that stumped them. For instance, 69% thought that women held 1% or less of the top corporate positions. 69% also believed that women did not mostly work in traditional female roles. This quiz was a powerful exercise that not only had visitors actively participating in the event, but it also challenged what they thought they knew about women. See how you fare on the quiz. Find the answers below.
The information used to create this quiz came from Women at a Glance: Statistical Highlights, 2012. The answer stating that 8.5% of women hold top corporate jobs came from a 2015 CBC article.
This event had a great response from the local population. A woman from the Metis Council approached Lois and I after the presentation because she liked what was said about wanting to include Aboriginal and Metis stories in the collection. She said that she will bring this up at their next meeting. We also had more men show up than was originally expected. A father brought his two young daughters, and many husbands came with their wives. I was pleased with this, because I believe that women's stories and experiences should be acknowledged by both sexes in order for positive societal changes to occur. The evening was a success and we were pleased with how it came together.
 Cleverdon, Catherine. The Woman Suffrage Movement in Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1974), 19-27; Library and Archives Canada. "Dr. Emily Howard Stowe." collectionscanada.gc.ca/physicians/03002-2500-e.html, accessed August 4, 2016
 Historica Canada, "Women's Suffrage in Canada" http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/suffrage/ (accessed August, 2016)
 Coburn, Judy. "I See and am Silent": A Short History of Nursing in Ontario," In Women at Work, 1850-1930, edited by Janice Acton, Penny Goldsmith and Bonnie Shepard. (Canadian Women's Educational Press, 1974), 127-155.
 Historica Canada. The Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/royal-commission-on-the-status-of-women-in-canada/ (accessed August, 2016)
For the first time in my budding career, I have the privilege of digitizing and organizing a museum collection. Previously, I was trained as a volunteer on Past Perfect museum software. Part of my volunteering duties were to enter archival documents and the odd object or photograph into the database. This seemed a simple enough task. It was not until I was given the job of digitizing a whole collection that I realized how difficult collection management really is. There are some mornings when I stumble across a mislabeled photograph, a lost image or discrepancies in the numbering system and I think "what do I do now?" I will admit that I have only been in this role for three months, so I am considered a novice. That being said, I have entered approximately 900 entries (yes, I counted) and am beginning to find my rhythm. Below is a list of collection management tips that I find essential to staying organized. I hope they help you too!