Day at the Museum

Each summer, we plan a fabulous visit to the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum here in Carleton Place.  If you’ve never been, you’re missing out. For those who think local museums are stodgy old places filled with relics that you’re not really interested in, nothing could be further from the truth about this museum.  It’s a living, breathing, always-changing venue brought to life under the hard work of Jennifer Irwin and her staff. They never cease to amaze me with the interesting objects, photos and history they pull from a mass of boxes upstairs and place into the main part of the museum so that the public can enjoy their relevance. Great care is taken to preserve our history and you’d be wise to take an afternoon during the regular season to pop in and see what they have on display. With funding scarce when it comes to historical venues such as this, they might not be around forever.

Lucky for us, there is always a changing display on view at the library. The “museum people” drop in every so often wearing white gloves and carefully placing each object in the locked display cabinet. After, we often huddle around it to see just what gorgeous creation they’ve come up with, usually based on the current season. It’s a special part of our library and we think we’re very lucky to be able to have something like this available to our patrons.

For the entire month of November, Jennifer has graciously put together a wonderful collection of photographs in a series she calls “Carleton Place Then and Now” and we have them on display. There are amazing transformation photos showing buildings in our town as they once were, and as they are today. Believe me, there are some huge changes.  Drop by to see them up close and take a few minutes to compare the present and the past. 

A BIG thanks to Jennifer for the eye-catching display this month!

What’s Going to Happen?

As Library and Archives Canada continues to make cuts to their programs and even worse, continues to sell off their collections to private collectors (many which are outside Canada), libraries such as ours are getting worried. Seriously worried. What this means to our patrons hasn’t yet hit home, we’re afraid.

Essentially, while Library and Archives begins to make all of their documents digital, the hard copies won’t be available for access until the digital copies go online. That means, if you want to look at an archived newspaper, for example, until everything has been digitized (which could take years), you’ll have to go to Ottawa and view it at the Archives. We won’t be able to order it in to our library for you.  This is the same for anyone, country-wide, who wants to view a document.  So, if you live in Manitoba and are working on your family history, say, you’ll need to “pop over” to Ottawa to view that document you need to finally figure out where your Great-Aunt Martha settled in Eastern Ontario back in the day. This is a simplistic explanation, but you get the idea.

Now, Lisa Fitzgibbons,  Executive Director of the Documentary Organization of Canada, shares her thoughts on the matter. She believes we need a sustainable way to keep funding going to Library and Archives Canada in order to preserve our nation’s historical data and make it available to every Canadian Citizen, whether they live in a major city or a small town. Go, Lisa!

Published in: on September 28, 2012 at 8:02 am  Leave a Comment  
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We went through the Portal!

Thursday afternoon was an exciting day for the kids that joined us for a visit to The Carleton Place & Beckwith Heritage Museum. While we waited for everyone to show up, Agent G. got us all together for a photo op.

We had no idea what to expect, but how lucky for us!  There was a time portal which allowed us to step through time and visit August 9, 1904!! (We were a little nervous to go through the time portal, but it didn’t hurt a bit!)

Once through…we were shocked to discover Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Smith, who were just as surprised as we were! Mrs. Brown told us all about her privileged lifestyle (she spends the days with her children reading and relaxing) but we all felt for Mrs. Smith who has to work 11 hours days, six days a week to help support her large family. Even the kids work! Wow.  I think some of our own library visitors were a little shocked by that. They asked our kids about their lives in 2012 and couldn’t understand what a TV was (or that mysterious thing called a Wii!)

While I took photos with my camera from 2012, Mrs. Brown explained that the camera her family uses is a little bigger and takes fewer photos.  Plus, the kids learned that no one really smiled in photos back then because it took so long to pose for the photos. (MacLaren explained that his mom is a photographer with a nice Nikon-something-or-other and that she also has another camera which is  smaller.  I think Mrs. Brown was a bit jealous!)

The boys got to pose with Agent G. and a few of the “town boys”. I think Agent G. had more fun getting his photo taken with the lovely women from 1904, however.

There were so many wonderful things to look at in 1904! We saw what the butcher wore, marveled at the strange costume worn by someone about to play tennis, and even found out how people back then mailed letters!  It sure was a complicated process, but Mrs. Brown mailed a letter with the help of one of our library kids. I wonder when it will arrive?

Fishing tackle, some advertisements, an old cash register and the women with their crazy bustles!  It was a strange moment in time, indeed. I wonder how they’d do in 2012?

After coming back through the portal to the present day, the kids headed upstairs and learned about items from the past. Agent G. got right down to business and checked out all that the upstairs had to offer. I think next summer, he’s going to apply for a position with Ally, Lauren and Leah. He’d be a good volunteer, don’t you think?

Jennifer is working SO hard getting the shelves and shelves of items organized. Everything is so neat and clean and tagged. You would be surprised at how many things there are to put on display! This is a part of the museum most people never see.

The kids try to figure out what some of the mysterious objects are!

It was a wonderful day at the museum and we can’t wait to go back next year. Each and every one of the young ladies that works there put so much hard work into making our visit special that we can’t thank them enough! It was fun, interesting and informative and every community would be lucky to have a museum filled with local history that is even half as good as this one. Don’t forget, the Carleton Place & Beckwith Heritage museum is located at 267 Edmund Street and is free (although a donation would be much appreciated, I’m sure!).

Wait….is that the mailman??? Look what just arrived at the library!

It’s a letter…..looks pretty old…..

Oh my!  It’s the letter Mrs. Brown mailed….from 1904!!  And look….Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Smith sent us a photograph (printed at Hammond Photography in Carleton Place). How beautiful!

And a wonderful letter.  How mysterious that it traveled through the time portal and right to our door.  If you want to read the letter and see the photograph, you can stop by the library and view it in our display window.  We’re so excited to share it with everyone! It’s not everyday you get a letter straight from 1904!

We’re getting on board!

It’s almost here, the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. As I’m sure most of you know,there are plenty of events planned throughout the world to coincide with the historic day, from many luxury cruises taking the exact route, to a four part mini-series on TV, to a re-release in 3D of James Cameron’s Titanic movie in theatres . It’s going to be an important occasion to mark.

So, to put our own hat in the ring, we’re having a Titanic Craft Night on Tuesday, April 10 (the same day the Titanic left on its fateful voyage).  This is for kids aged 6 – 12, and it’ll take place from 6 – 7pm (the first day of our new library hours, as well!). As usual, the spaces are limited, so call or come in and register as soon as possible. We’ll make a few Titanic themed crafts, learn some history and have some fun (even though it’s a serious topic, we hope to make it an interesting evening).

There are many new books based on the Titanic being released this spring, and I’m sure the interest will peak in early April. Drop in and pick up a book such as, Titanic Sinks by Barry Denenberg. It’s filled with lots of photos, stories and much more.

It’s going to be a thrilling evening, so sign up today!

5 million books

Just what can all the books in the world tell us about our history? A TED talk aims to explore the use of books to explain culture throughout the centuries. (This is really interesting and funny, so watch it when you have 15 minutes!)

Published in: on November 21, 2011 at 10:15 am  Leave a Comment  
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Remembrance Day

Published in: on November 11, 2010 at 9:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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