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Legends and tall-tales on display
Before the Internet, television, and films, there were stories.
And according to Philippe Mailhot, executive director of the St. Boniface Museum, those stories are as much a part of our heritage as material artifacts — which is why they’re on display at the museum.
The museum is currently hosting a temporary exhibit, Discovering Legends with Jean-Claude Dupont, until Sun. March 18.
"(Dupont) travelled around North America for years, gathering legends, folktales," Mailhot said.
"He’s an artist as well, so he illustrated the legends."
Mailhot said Dupont’s paintings, which are on display at the museum, are painted in a "naïf" style, meaning they are whimsical and child-like — a perfect complement to the subject matter.
The exhibit also looks at the very nature of storytelling — such as themes of good and evil, legends based on historical fact, and recurring images such as the flying canoe, or "chasse-galerie."
Since the exhibit opened on Jan. 17, the museum has also welcomed storytellers into the fold each Sunday in both French and English.
"It sort of animates the exhibition and also adds some local colour," Mailhot said.
Kay Stone, one of the storytellers, has been sharing tales of Sister Marie Ducharme of the Oblate House.
Stone, who taught a class on oral storytelling at the University of Winnipeg, said she thinks there’s an innate and immediate sense that reacts to being a told a story, even more so than being read one.
"It feels like the person is talking to you, and you begin to create the story in your head," said Stone, a downtown resident who used to live in River Heights. "It becomes your story."
She said while stories were once entertainment, they also provided a way to teach children. For example, a story about hunting might provide valuable lessons about the task, Stone said.
"They were textbooks. They were sacred stories — they were way beyond television," she said.
Upcoming storytelling sessions include Georges Beaudry (in French at 1:30 p.m. and in English at 3 p.m.) on March 4, Miguel Vielfaure (in French at 1:30 p.m. and in English at 3 p.m.) on March 11, and Ronald Valois (in French at 1:30 p.m.) and Kay Stone (in English at 3 p.m.) on March 18.
The storytelling sessions are included in the price of admission. Those interested in attending all three remaining sessions can purchase a pass for $15 which can apply to one individual or as many as two adults with their family, but not two separate families. School tours are also available.
For more information, visit msbm.mb.ca or call 237-4500.
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