We are please to share this Museum update of activities and work that have taken place since May 2014 which was prepared for the December semi-annual Queen’s Own Rifles Trust meeting.
Casa Loma Operator
Committee Chair LCol Rob Zeidler and Curator Maj John Stephens met with the Liberty Leadership Team on September 4th 2014 to discuss our relationship at which time Liberty confirmed their financial and management support to upgrade our exhibits and that they had contracted exhibit design company KUBIK to develop our new exhibit design. Our museum team is also working on developing documentation to assist us when we meet with KUBIK that highlights key milestones and artifacts that help tell the regiment’s story.
First World War
On September 28, 2014 we co-sponsored a First World War Symposium with the 15th Battalion Memorial Association (48th Highlanders) at Moss Park Armoury which had 50+ in attendance to hear 4 eminent authors discuss the subject of recent books they had published. The event, organized by LCol Fotheringham, also had dealers present and included an excellent lunch prepared by the Officers’ Mess staff.
- We continue to work with our volunteers to create detailed catalogue records. This process also includes a photograph of each artifact and for this we are very grateful to Capt (Ret) Larry Hicks’ efforts. We have now catalogued over 2,000 artifacts.
- We are continuing to enter the catalogue records into our Museum Collections database with 860+ records entered to date.
- Thanks to a generous donation we were able to contract two Masters of Museum Studies graduates who had been volunteering with us, to work for 16 days each doing cataloguing and data entry.
- Significant donations over the past 6 months include a collection of weapons and bayonets directed to us by a former rifleman, and the WWII uniform of the late D-Day veteran Jim Wilkins.
- We are please to have accepted the return of an unframed 21” x 42” 1882 composite photograph which has been with a photo conservator for surface cleaning, tear repair, stain reduction, adhesive stain reduction and overall stabilization – it looks amazing. The next step will be to have it re-framed to protect it in the future.
- We were pleased to work with LCol John Fotheringham and the Juno Beach Centre to make a temporary loan of Rolph Jackson artifacts for exhibit during the Colonel-in-Chief’s visit to the centre during her 70th Anniversary of D-Day visit. You can read more about that in a previous blog post.
- The WWII and Afghanistan exhibits have been moved from our previous exhibit room into the East end of the third floor hallway to accommodate Casa Loma staff office moves due to external renovations at the West end of the building. The D-Day painting remains secured in the new office space for the time being.
- We are currently in the process of updating some of our exhibit and artifact labels to provide more context and as a test of our major renovation.
- We worked with Liberty’s graphic designer to create a “popsicle” sign which identifies our museum space.
- We completed the transcription of 12 WWI letters and 3 diaries of CSM Lawrence Pridham, QOR à 166th Bn à 4CMR and these have been posted on our website. We are also in the process of producing a book of the transcriptions which will include a preface by author, historian and educator Dr. Eric McGeer.
- In the coming months we plan to design and produce a number of pop-up banners that can be used at the museum but also for travelling exhibits. These would have both photos and text covering various significant periods in the regiment’s history.
- Starting in January we will begin filming veteran/soldier interviews. The filming and editing will be done by Rifleman Rich Colmer and his videography company partner. The goal is to post the finished products on our Youtube Channel and website.
- In the year we will be meeting with Casa Loma to discuss the possibility of arranging for some travelling exhibits.
- Lastly we’re exploring the possibility of an exhibit of the oil portraits from the Officer’s Mess reproduced as photos on canvas as an exhibit. These could later be used throughout the castle.
Our third “Queen’s Own Rifles Day at Casa Loma” on was held on Saturday November 8th and has been deemed another successful event. The QOR Band played three sets with a focus on First World War era music, 2881 cadets assisted with children’s activities, and a large number of re-enactors joined us this year with uniforms representing all periods for WWI to the present and 2 heritage vehicles. We once again appreciate the Commanding Officer LCol Sandi Banerjee’s support in providing 11 currently serving soldiers with various kit who helps share their stories and the MSVS parked in front of the castle was also hard to miss. While it didn’t happen this year, we have recce’d a site for a rappelling demo in 2015.
- In 2014, 74 volunteers (excluding the curator) have provided over 1,000 hours of service to the museum in 2014: 3 have over 25 hrs, 2 has over 50 hrs, 2 have over 75 hrs and one has over 100 hrs of service. This includes detailed cleaning, cataloguing and photographing of artifacts; cleaning display cases; painting; and redoing exhibit cases. Volunteer are coming from serving soldiers of the regiment (over 50), from the association and from others outside the regimental family. Almost 2,000 hours since October 2012.
- We’re currently making plans for our second volunteer appreciation sometime early in the 2015. But special thanks during this past 7 months to our most regular volunteers: Assistant Curator CWO (Ret’d) Shaun Kelly, Capt (Ret’d) Larry Hicks, MCpl Graham Humphrey, Cheryl Copson, Sarah Silvestri, Joe Wyatt, Cpl Justin Dremanis, Capt Alex Whittaker and CWO Scott Patterson.
Education, Networking and Administration
- The curator attended the 2014 Ontario Museum Association Conference for three days in October.
- We were pleased to assist a University of Toronto Masters in History student with his research paper entitled “A Serious Piece of Business”: Sir Henry Pellatt, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, and the “English Trip” of 1910. In September The student (who is also a MCpl with the Black Watch Regiment) provided a copy of his paper which is available on our website both in pdf format and as a series of blog posts.