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Galt Museum examines climate change in new exhibit

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The Galt Museum is going green for their latest exhibition, which opens Sunday, Jan. 22 from 1-4:30 p.m.Galt Museum curator Wendy Aitkens talks about “Earth‘s Climate Change In The Balance. ” Photo by Richard Amery
 The travelling exhibition “Earth’s Climate In the Balance,” runs Jan. 22 until Earth Day, April 22.
 The exhibition comes from the Bruce County Museum  and Cultural Centre in Ontario and explores the historical aspects of climate change. There are a variety of displays explaining the history of climate change as well as  the materials and methods scientists utilize to study climate change.

There is also a display on extinct species. Another interactive display examines how humans can reduce their eco-footprint.

“Weather and climate change are different things. Weather is what you see when you walk outside your door. Climate change is over millions of years,” explained Wendy Aitkens, Galt Museum Curator.


Galt Museum celebrates Robbie Burns with Scotch, pipes and haggis

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Everybody  gets to release their inner Scotsman on Robbie Burns Day. So the Galt Museum is happy to help out with their annual Robbie Burns Day/ Scotch tasting celebration, Chris Roedler examines a map of Scotland in preparation for Scotch and Burns. Photo by Richard AmeryJan. 21.
 “I’m quite looking forward to it,” said Galt Museum special events co-ordinator Chris Roedler, who has never helped organize one of these events before.

While he noted there probably isn’t a lot of Scottish in his family tree, Roedler being a German name,  he is excited to be involved with the event.

He will be working with Alex Lawson on the details of the event.

“I’ve always been interested in Robbie Burns party,” he said.  

“it’s always a lot of fun. We’ll have drummers to pipe in the haggis. We’ll recite  Robbie Burns poetry and  have a sing along of Auld Lang Syne,” he continued.
 Andrew Hilton is on board to sponsor the Scotch and there are plans in the works to get pipers, dancers, drummers singers and of course haggis.


First World War veterans resurrected through their letters

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First World War veterans are more than just names carved on a fading cenotaph, during Remembrance Day, as the years sail on by, it is all the more important to keep alive the stories of those brave men and women who fought and died for freedom in “the war to end all wars.”
 While the men themselves may have long since passed on, Royal Canadian Legion Service Officer Glenn Miller has madeClarence Cluff looks at one letter  from  John Murray which Service Officer Glenn Miller gave a presentation on at the Galt Museum. Photo by Richard Amery it his mission to bring them back to life— through their letters home from overseas.

Each letter is an integral piece of the puzzle depicting that particular soldier’s life which, when put together, paint a pretty vivid picture of what life was like for a typical First World War soldier. Everything adds to the story from photos they took, to flowers soldiers sent back pressed in old books they were reading at the time, to pieces of the ruins sent back home from Vimy Ridge, which could be easily dismissed as garbage.

“Whenever you think of throwing something away that belonged to your grandfather or great-grandfather, go to the Galt first,” recommended Miller to an attentive crowd at the Galt Museum, Wednesday, Nov. 2 as he painted a vivid picture of the life of 20th Battalion Fifth Brigade Canadian Field Artillery artillery gunner John B Murray, 1892-1961,  according to a photo of Murray’s headstone in the presentation.

“Paper was the primary method of communication over there, even though it sometimes took as long as six months to get back home,”  he said.

“The biggest thing for morale was getting news from home and that was from letters,” Miller said, noting learning things like their sister was pregnant and what was going on with their parents, helped keep the soldiers connected to home.


Cemetery tours are an educational experience

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Wandering around a graveyard in the dead of night is how you’d expect a horror movie to start, but  the Galt Museum’s Belinda Crowson sees it as an educational opportunity — a way to step back in time and explore some of Lethbridge’s sordid history.

Belinda Crowson tells the story of Henry Taylor “Kanoose” the first notable  man arrested  by the North West Mounted Police. Photo by Richard Amery“I don’t try to freak them out, they freak themselves out,” said Crowson, after leading a group of southern Alberta teachers through St. Patrick’s cemetery on the north side of the city overlooking the highway.

It’s pretty easy to get freaked out by the ominous shadows of aged trees overlooking headstones silhouetted in the moonlight.

“It’s easy to get freaked out. We had deer in the first year, and all they could see was these glowing eyes and we’ve had porcupines in our third year,” she said. 

It is easy for ones imagination to get carried away, especially since Crowson will tell the enthusiastic  groups stories of suicides, unsolved murders, about Henry  “Kanoose” Taylor, the first man the Northwest Mounted police arrested for whiskey trading back in 1874.

“They  confiscated his whiskey, his horses and  a lot of his money. He hated the police ever since,” she explained.
 She hosts not only the spooky flashlight tours, but also tours during the day for families and classes of students.

 She was full of interesting historical tidbits, like the  nurse at Galt Hospital who lived at the hospital and passed away 39 years later— without taking a day off, and who was told not to go to church for fear of spreading communicable diseases, or the two nuns who have two different headstones,  in two different parts of the cemetery because the originals were lost.


Fond memories of toys and games at Galt Museum

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Everybody has their own memories of their favourite toys and  games from their childhood.
“My favourite toy growing up was space Lego,” enthused Galt Museum employee Kevin Maclean,  proudly indicating a Lego space ship he donated in a case next to a Meccano set, a game of Twister and a Tonka dirt mover. He is proud to say he was so obsessed with playing with Lego that when his parents wanted to ground him, they took his Lego away.Anine Vonkeman plays witha  Blackfoot bone toss game. Photo by Richard Amery

His spaceship is one of over 60 toys and games donated by community members on display in the Galt Museum’s new exhibit, “Toys and Games,” which officially opened Oct. 1 and runs until Jan. 8.

 There are 130 artifacts on display including numerous items from the Galt Museum’s extensive collection as well as 60 others on loan from  community members and  Medicine Hat’s Esplande Museum.

“We wanted to look at what we gain from playing rather than just having artifacts,” said curator Wendy Aitkens. The items were chosen according to how they affect people’s lives.

“When I was growing up on the farm in the ’70s, our TV only had  three channels, but there was Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers and Star Trek reruns. So whoever came up with marketing a space themed Lego series was a marketing genius,” MacLean said.

“And they changed a lot in three years. The original space lego were just the original blocks,” he continued.

He said the instruction manuals that came with Lego kits  were an important learning tool for children, who had to learn to follow directions for the kit to turn out right.

“We learn from playing right from the beginning. When a baby shakes a rattle, it not only learns how to move their fingers, but that they can make noise too,” Aitkens said adding free play time, that is play not determined by a schedule like  school, play school and after school activities, is important for children because it encourages them to  use their imaginations, not to mention learn problem solving skills.

“If they are playing a game with others, like Scrabble, they have to learn how to problem solve and communicate, like by saying that word doesn’t exist,” Aitkens said.

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