Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Winnipegger's carnival exploits make museum

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HIS life reads like an adventure novel, and now people can explore the adventure that is E.J Casey's life story online in a virtual museum exhibit.

Casey's story is being told by the North American Carnival Museum & Archives, through the Virtual Museum of Canada. Glenn Charron, the treasurer of the carnival museum, said the exhibit was born out of different documents and archives they had.

"We had a number of records in our collection... so looking through the material (Casey's) story kind of stood out," he said.

Casey's life story is one of several surprising twists. He was born in Ontario and moved to Winnipeg in 1905, Charron said. There, he quit school and worked in the theatre district for a while before joining the Winnipeg Regiment, which became the Winnipeg Grenadiers. Casey served two military tours during the First World War.

When he came back to Winnipeg, he started a carnival business. He started selling concessions at River Park, but slowly his company turned into a nation-touring spectacle.

The virtual exhibit takes that history and presents it in the form of pictures, writing, as well as audio clips. Charron said the museum managed to get hold of Casey's unpublished biography, of which they use pieces in the exhibit.

"He has a lot of diary entries from his time during the war, so we've created some audio clips related to some of the language around his time in the war," Charron said.

One of the more exciting parts in Casey's story for Winnipeggers, apart from the carnival, is when Casey helped during the 1950 Winnipeg flood, Charron said.

"He played a fairly large role. Being a carnival operator he had his own generating and lighting unit, and he'd loan them out in the rescue efforts," Charron said.

The virtual museum is a big opportunity for the carnival museum, Charron said. It doesn't don't have a permanent space apart from an office, which makes putting on exhibits difficult. The virtual museum is a way for every Canadian to see its exhibits.

"This sort of venue provides us with the ability to get the stories out that we want to tell," he said.

And because cyberspace is not as restrictive as real space, Casey's story will remain on the website for at least five years, Charron said. The only hope for this exhibit, Charron said, is that it's heard, and introduces people to something new in the form of the Carnival Museum.

"It's a remarkable story. We're hoping we get out of it that people get to know us a little better," he said.

oliver.sachgau@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 19, 2013 A6

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