Though the museum is quieter these days (fewer tourists and visitors), we are getting a ton accomplished behind the scenes.
Our summer student, Beci Bonkowski, has been hard at work sorting through items that had previously been stored off site. She researches them, looks for catalogue numbers, and provides recommendations to our acquisitions committee about them. Our acquisitions committee then makes decisions as to what to keep (what is in good condition, has good history, etc.) and Beci creates catalogue records for items that never got one. Cleaning out this sea can give us room to expand our archaeological repository as well as creating proper records/improving records for items catalogued in our collection.
Please note that we hours have changed due to Covid-19. We will be open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. This gives us a chance to clean and prepare the museum for the visitors the next day.
• Stretchers, Snowstorms, & Station Wagons: Early Ambulance Service in the North Peace: Our latest exhibit is up at the Fort St. John Hospital (in the lobby by the pay phone). It looks at ambulances from Dr. Kearney's Jeep and Alaska Highway Ambulances to the ambulance service run out of our Fire Department. Most of the exhibit focuses on our best-known ambulance driver, Ernie Carriere, and his experiences. This exhibit is free and was presented in partnership with the Fort St. John Hospital Arts Committee.
We have lots of exhibits and signs in the works! Our summer student, Beci, has redesigned the signs and Heather has updated the text for the Made Beaver part of our fur trade exhibit and our post office exhibit. We’ve expanded the post office exhibit to three signs to share more historical photographs and stories of working with the mail. Heather is researching the railway portion of our transportation exhibit and Beci is putting together an exhibit on shoes and their owners for our display case at the airport.
Archives & Collections
Just over half a year through and we’ve already tied last year’s number of inquiries (54). Our inquiries haven’t slowed down too much due to the pandemic as many of them come in by email, Facebook, and phone. In an average year we usually see about 110 inquiries and are certainly on pace to meet that target. We’ve had some really neat inquiries this year from the BC Megafauna Project coming to take a sample of our mammoth tooth (to radiocarbon date it) to someone looking for the house where he grew up. Our most popular requests continue to be for archival photographs or for genealogical information.
In order to help us respond to these inquiries (and carry out our own research), we have dreamed of making the Alaska Highway News (and other newspapers in our collection) searchable. Well this year that dream begins to become a reality. Thanks to a significant grant in aid from the Peace River Regional District, we are able to purchase a large-scale scanner as well as Therefore Software (thanks to Ideal Office Solutions) and begin scanning the newspaper as searchable PDFs. We have some other potential grants in the works but definitely need volunteer help scanning these papers. Let Heather know if you’re interested. This will make our lives so much easier as we will be able to search by name or keyword rather than have a “needle in the haystack” search through newspapers on microfilm.
We rely heavily on an amazing team of volunteers. They help keep us open on Saturdays, do a variety of maintenance projects, answer inquiries or carry out projects in our archives, and look after the gift shop for us. If you are interested in volunteering or know someone who might be, please talk to Heather in person or by phone 250-787-0430 or reply to this email. We can tailor your volunteer experience to whatever area of the museum you’d like to work in and as often/long you want to work for. It’s a fun project for your retirement, can be tailored around your work schedule, or is great work experience for students.
Share Your Covid-19 Experience
How has Covid-19 had an impact on your life? The Fort St. John North Peace Museum is looking for your stories and photographs of working from home, social distancing, and living in a much different world than what we were used to. Did you perfect a bread recipe? Were your kids bored at home? What was a trip to the barber or hairdresser (or other business) like in a Covid-19 world? Did Covid-19 claim the life of someone you loved?
We want to capture what this pandemic was like for residents of Fort St. John and the North Peace to document it for future generations. We are looking for artefacts, stories, journals, photographs, etc. that connect to the Covid-19 pandemic. Items can be dropped off at the museum (9323 100 Street) or photographs and typed stories can be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are submitting an item or photograph, please explain how it is connected to the pandemic and provide basic information such as who is in the photograph and when it was taken.
Heather Sjoblom is manager and curator of the Fort St. John North Peace Museum.