This last weekend I marched for the Museum in the Sea Cavalcade Parade and I couldn’t help noticing how little the event differed from any archival photograph we have of community functions.
Usually, if I were to say that an experience was like ‘living in history’ I’d mean that whatever was happening was so important and profound that I could tell in that moment that it would be taught in schools in years to come. That’s not the case when I say the same about a parade. In fact, I mean pretty much the exact opposite.
I should make it clear right from the beginning, I am not condemning parades. I love parades with every facet of my small-town soul. But you have to admit: parades, by all accounts, should be an entirely outdated form of entertainment. With the increasingly impressive technology available to us at ever-decreasing prices it would not be strange if parades had long since been extinct. But somehow the tradition has persevered.
I cannot tell you with any authority why people are still interested in parades, I can only express my own opinions so adamantly that you assume they are facts. This is what I shall do.
- Parades, above anything else, promote a sense of community. Let’s be honest, sitting in the hot sun for a couple hours and watching decorated cars drive by really slowly doesn’t actually sound like much fun. The appeal is in the people you watch with: family, friends, neighbours, strangers. Add in the local businesses and organizations to cheer for on the floats and then you have something. In this small a community it is bare minimum that you will recognize the family across the street and live next door to someone in the parade -- Guaranteed.
- Candy. I’m not joking. Now, I’ve been past the accepted age of running for the candy thrown out at parades for a good number of years now, but a funny thing happens when you unwittingly cross that age line – the joy in the candy throwing does not subside, it shifts. I was awarded a single piece of candy at this year’s Canada Day Parade in Sechelt and I traded it for a smile from the cutest little girl you’ll ever see. Watching the sugar-fueled delight in all those children (especially at the Sea Cav Parade this year where the numbers were incredibly high) is very special and you won’t see it anywhere else outside Halloween and Easter.
- Ceremony. If it can be nothing else, the Parade is the ceremonial opening to Sea Cav. Without it, all the smaller events might not have the same sense of connection to each other. Beyond this particular parade, though, the concept itself is ceremonial in nature. There’s no real point to a parade, it’s not a race, or a journey, or a fundraiser, it’s about the ceremony of the march. Similarly, the concept is not one anyone would dream up in this century; it’s done because it’s been done before. Parades are a tradition and as such they are a piece of the past living in the present.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
The opening of the Chatwilh exhibit on Saturday went swimmingly. We had around 40 people join us for the event. Chief Ian Campbell and Mayor Wayne Rowe were here to speak, along with other members of the Squamish Nation, and members of our Museum Board. It was an honour to share in that experience.
Coming up this weekend, of course, is Sea Cavalcade. Watch for me in the parade on Saturday, I’ll be the one absolutely melting from the heat. I’ve never been to the Sea Cav parade before, I’m looking forward to joining in. I was also asked to write the museum’s article on Sea Cavalcade in the Local. It comes out this week so keep an eye out for it.
Have fun this weekend, and don’t forget your sun protection!
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
You might have seen on Facebook that we’re having some trouble in finding appropriate photos to make into our life-size cut outs of Nick and Relic from The Beachcombers – boy, are we ever!
We started out in our photo archives, Jackson Davies’ book “Beachcombers at 40,” and a Beachcombers booklet from back when the show was only 13 years old. By the end of that search we had several really awkward poses, one grainy photo of Bruno Gerussi in a great pose with his eyes closed, and the same silly picture of Robert Clothier contemplating a pair of fish that we had used in our grant proposal in the first place.
Next, I dug through a box of old Polaroid’s hoping against hope I’d find something worth considering. After I had been through all of them (which is over 800 I’d guess) I had … nothing. Most of the shots were for continuity and location scouting purposes, very rarely was there even a person. I know that image quality would have been a factor had I found something in there, but it would have been better than nothing.
One day, as we were discussing our problem, in walked Vene Parnell. Vene is a local photographer who came in to check the inventory of her cards we sell in our gift shop. She was also a photographer for The Beachcombers and the author of the booklet I mentioned. We snapped up the opportunity and Vene graciously agreed to lend us whatever shots she had. A few days later we were in possession of a good quality photo of Bruno in a great pose – with his eyes still closed! It’s a plight I know well – I too am afflicted with the “blink as the flash goes off curse” – but you’d think we could find a photo somewhere in which this was not a problem.
We branched out further from there, talking to whoever we could think of with connections to The Beachcombers. An email to the CBC has been our first real hit. They sent us all the photos they had that fit the criteria – and we got one! We have a great shot of Nick holding a paddle - his eyes are even almost open!
Now we just need Relic. While my vote is eternally on the silly fish picture, we’re sure there must be something that works a little better. If you know anyone who has the rights to this seemingly non-existent picture, let us know!
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
I'd like to use this week's post to discuss a part of working at a museum that is perhaps a little more abstract.
When I say abstract, I essentially mean the feeling I get while in close proximity to objects of the past. Perhaps you know the feeling I mean: that sense of connection to lives that existed before your own. It can be found in old photographs of familiar places, in a story told so well that it creates empathy for people a hundred years dead. That’s the feeling that made me want to work here.
I’ve done some dusting around the exhibits since I’ve been here, and there is a strange thrill to be had in touching historical objects, even if it is underscored by a tense fear that I’ll break something. Part of it, I will admit, is the child in me that revels in touching things behind a sign that clearly reads “do not touch.” But, another part is that sense of connection to people of the past whether it’s “can you imagine having to cook with that every day?” or “I used a mailbox just like that when I was a kid.”
Some people, to put it bluntly, see museums as boring. That’s a perception I’ll never personally understand. As my friend put it when I told him I had the opportunity to interview here, “That sounds boring – you’ll love it!” To me (and, as a writer, this is the most important thing there is) history is a story. Each day we add a little bit to the narrative. A museum’s job is to piece together the threads of that story, not to be the author, or the censor, but the editor.
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
I’d say it’s safe to say that summer is finally here! The sun is shining, the kids are out of school, and the tourists are on their way into town. I’m about ready to hit the beach!
From what I’ve learned while sorting through the museum’s archives, summer on the Sunshine Coast has always been a pretty neat time. I’ve seen pictures of canoe pillow fights and trophies for swim races. There’s always been lots to do here in the summer.
You could even say Sea Cavalcade was the result of there being too much to do! Before Sea Cav started in 1969 each community on the Sunshine Coast had its own summer celebration at a different times – Sea Cavalcade was the result of bringing our communities and all their traditions together. Luckily we don’t need a time machine to attend! The celebrations are July 27/28 this year, don’t miss it!.
I’ve never worked in a position that deals so directly with tourism before. I’m a little excited to see who I will meet over the coming weeks. The Sunshine Coast gets lots of tourists over the summer months; I’ve always been curious about what brings people to our little seaside hamlets. Of course I know it’s beautiful here, and our summer events can’t be beat, but how the heck did you even hear about us in the first place? Whenever I tell someone in Victoria (where I go to school) that I’m from Sechelt the answer I get is uniformly “Where?” So, that’s what I’m excited about right now: the chance to hear some of those “what brought you here” stories.
What are you excited about this summer?