Friday, July 25, 2014

The Great Canadian Flag Debate: 2014

  What started on Canada Day and ran until July 13th at the Little White School in St. Albert?  Our annual Great Canadian Flag Debate Contest of course!
  Visitors were invited to design their own Canadian flag at the Little White School using symbols they felt represented “Canada”. 
  Our annual contest hearkens back to 1964, when the Canadian government, and indeed the Canadian people, were deciding what flag should represent all of Canada.  From 1867, when Canada became a country, until 1965, when the red maple leaf flag was adopted, Canada had no official flag of its own.  
  While the Canadian Red Ensign was often used, it was never an official flag.  The Union Jack was the official national flag of the Dominion of Canada for nearly 100 years after Confederation! (For more information about the Union Jack check out:
  In 1964, thousands of flag designs were sent to the Canadian government by citizens across the country.  The most common symbols presented on those flag designs were the Union Jack, the beaver, the fleur-de-lis, and most common of all, the maple leaf.
   In the end, after months of debate, the government agreed upon George Stanley’s design, which flies as our beloved Canadian Flag today.
   At the Little White School, for our Flag Debate Contest, we had many different entries in four age categories: 5 & under, 6 to 8, 9 to 11, and 12 & up.
   Choosing a winner in each category was a difficult decision, but in the end, the programming staff chose the following flags as prize winners, as well as a runner-up in each category, worthy of honourable mention.

Thanks so much to everyone who participated in the Great Canadian Flag debate again this year, and we look forward to seeing everyone’s designs again in 2015!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Staff Profile: Lead Interpreter at the St. Albert Grain Elevator Park

My name is Curtis and I am the lead interpreter at the St. Albert Grain Elevator Park this summer. 

Previously I have worked at heritage sites in Britannia Beach, BC and Banff, Alberta and enjoy learning about and sharing my passion for history.  This fall I am beginning my Master of Information and Master of Museum Studies at the University of Toronto, so the grain elevators were a natural fit for me. 

Being "St. Albert born and raised" I am really enjoying the opportunity to rediscover the rich and unique history of the community.  I have also had the chance to learn about, and grow, our own vegetable garden, something I have little experience in and did not think would be something my History degree would lead me too!  

My most memorable moment so far has been the opportunity to interact with, and learn from, so many visitors who have worked at our site and other grain elevator locations.  When you have the chance to visit our site, don’t forget to look up the grain elevator ladder to truly appreciate the height and complexity of the building.  Also don’t forget to try one of our homemade cookies!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Staff Profile: Interpreter at St. Albert Grain Elevator Park

Hi everybody! I’m Gwen, one of the friendly and oh-so-informative guides up at the St. Albert Grain Elevator Park and I must say its been awfully fun so far working at the heritage site!  Having spent much of my childhood exploring the various museums and heritage sites my father worked on, or at, this gig seemed a natural coda to my ongoing love of the past. 

I adore being able to share the stories of our sentinels, some of which is literally scrawled on the walls: in both the ’29 and ’06 elevators.  The sharp-eyed can spot various calculations, signatures, weights and measurements written right onto the wood!  

While I love meeting all our guests and swapping stories with them, I have to admit the programs we run with the local schools and daycares may be my favourite part of the job [although baking fresh cookies with my co-workers from scratch is a near second]. Whether it’s being featured in post-card art, designing a super-beaver plant pot, a rousing game of tag in which the rules change constantly, or having a group of first-graders [no doubt destined to be union reps] express outrage over the working conditions of Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel Mary Ann, children are an inspiration to us all and I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to interact with them constantly. And I get paid for the privilege! 

I admit, it’s not all sunshine and roses: we do occasionally have to turn a garden or move planters so heavy they require an application of Archimedean leverage work and four desperate humans, or attempt to haul shut elevator doors amidst gale force winds but I’ve found a certain pride in surveying the results: our park is so fetching you could get married in it [yep, we do weddings too!]. If you don’t believe me, come and see for yourselves and remember: we have cookies!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Staff Profile: Interpreter at St Albert Grain Elevator Park

Hello, everyone! I’m Janel, and I’m one of the cookie-baking, blog-writing, garden-tending interpreters at the St. Albert Grain Elevator Park! My interest in history comes from my origins in Atlantic Canada – I was surrounded by old buildings, ships and graves, and I was able to use the historical resources there to trace my own ancestry back to the landing of the Acadians in the early 17th century. 
When I applied to work at the Elevators, for me it was a chance to delve into a new, unique sort of history that I’d had no exposure to; you just don’t come across too many grain elevators in rural New Brunswick!

My favourite part of the job has to be the tours, because visitors from both local areas and far-off places all seem to have such reverence for these places as symbols of the prairies, though few of them know how the elevators actually work. It’s so great to be able to see them looking around and getting a better understanding of this city’s past. 

The thing that most surprised me about working here has to be the gardens. When I thought ‘tour guide job’, wrestling with a persnickety wheelbarrow was not the first thing that came to mind! I’ll be glad to see these plants coming up at the end of the summer to show us our hard work paying off. 

My most memorable moments always happen when someone with a personal connection to the elevators – whether a farmer, a former employee or even a pilot who once used them to navigate the prairie skies – comes by. They have so many stories about the places that I can pass on to future visitors, and there’s no other way to uncover those stories otherwise. If – or, I should say, when – you drop by, be sure to look up the manlift or ladder shaft in the elevator. There’s no better way to appreciate just how huge these things are. And be sure to try a cookie!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Summer Programs at the Museum and Heritage Sites

Looking for some fun things to do in St. Albert this summer? 
Come on down to the museum and heritage sites for drop-in family programs for all ages on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout July and August.

We started celebrating “Tuesdays Together” at the museum on Tuesday, July 8 and will continue weekly through August.   
This coming week we will learn all about things that live along the Sturgeon River, making our own nature bags to collect specimens on the way. Programs run at 10-11 AM and 1-2 PM; no pre-registration required.  Program admission is a suggested donation of $2 per participant.

Each Thursday head up to the St. Albert Grain Elevator Park for "Craft Thursdays" and on July 17 you can learn to make your own paper!  
If you happen to be at the museum program on Tuesday then you will need to remember to bring along the specimens you collected on the museum nature walk so that you can use them in your paper making project. Admission by donation.
Program themes at both sites change each week; check for more information.