Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION
Gearing up for Pioneer Heritage Day
Performers of all sorts will be on hand on August 4 to celebrate the past
Andrew Wiens falls asleep on his feet to the smell of apple pie and promptly falls square on his face — well, almost.
Wiens, an actor at the Historical Museum of St. James-Assiniboia, was helping put the final touches to plans for the organization’s celebration of Pioneer Heritage Day planned for Sat., Aug. 4.
Wiens, who is also a senior public programs officer at the museum, is one of a handful of actors who will remain in character throughout the day while they tell visitors tales about early community-building in the region.
Curator Bonita Hunter-Eastwood said the museum strives for authenticity, not only in its historical artifacts, but also in its dramatic presentations.
"Our scripts are directly from the John Taylor journals," she said.
Education co-ordinator Barry Hillman said the origin of Portage Avenue’s wide roadways is one of the many stories chronicled at the museum.
"The wagon wheel created it. The wheel ruts just kept getting further apart, wider and wider and wider, and eventually when residents and businesses started sprouting up, they were built unusually wide and very far apart," he said.
The museum is located in the former St. James municipal building, which was built in 1911.
Some of the museum’s other buildings, some dating back prior to before the turn of the century, are home to a host of programs and artifacts. The museum’s 1856 Red River frame house is home to historical theatre performances.
"From May to June all kinds of kids go through here. There are tours every single day," said senior programs officer and organ player Adriana Appleton.
"We’ve had students and kids from throughout the city and Headingley."
Many of the items on display at the museum, such as a butter churn and a blacksmith’s anvil, harken back to a time when most tasks were accomplished with the help of community members.
Actors outline during rehearsals what daily life was like a century ago including daily farm chores. Collecting eggs, bread making, ironing day, chicken coop cleaning and other chores were all part of an effort by performers keep things real.
Hillman said Pioneer Heritage Day will feature the museum’s historical performances and more.
"We will have traditional hoop dancers, square dancers, Celtic harpist, a vintage fire truck and more for kids of all ages and adults," he said.
Pioneer Heritage Day will take place from noon to 4 p.m. on Sat., Aug. 4. The museum is located at 3180 Portage Ave. Call 888-8706 for more information.
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