Tag Archives: volunteers

Thank You to Our Volunteers!

Photo above: Some of our volunteers at the recognition event.

On Thursday, February 2nd, Museum Board members and volunteers gathered in the impressive library of the Royal Canadian Military Institute for a reception to recognize service to the museum in 2022.

Volunteers racked up 1,237 hours in 2022 which contributed to our all-time total of 114,118 hours – which would equal almost $300,000 in wages if this had been paid work!

Certificates of Appreciation were presented to volunteers Briahna Bernard, Anne Frazer, Shaun Kelly, Colin Sedgewick-Pinn, and Bruce Taylor; and board members Adam Hermant, Jenna Misner-Zuschlag, and Past Chair Jim Lutz.

Unable to attend to receive their certificates were Rob Grieve, Ken Kominek, Steve Hu, Steven Ye, Matt Noel, Steven Abra, Mario Carvalho, Graham Humphrey, Olivier Laquerre, Cheryl Nairn, and Harry Patel.

Also present were new Board Chair Michele McCarthy, board member Lisa Holmes, and volunteers Morgan Ryder, Kevin Hebib, Jordan Balch, and Museum Liaison Officer, Captain Dave Pampe.

On behalf of the Commanding Officer (who was out of the country) Dave also presented the Commanding Officer’s Commendation to our new Curator Shaun Kelly on ten years of volunteering with the museum:

“For 10 years of outstanding dedication and leadership at The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Regimental Museum. His efforts have been paramount in bringing our museum practices into the 21st Century, and in particular in effectively preserving our museum objects that will allow us to share well into the future, the important stories of our regiment and the Riflemen that have served in it.”

If you’re interested in volunteering with us in 2023, please read our Volunteering page on our website.

National Volunteer Week 2022

Museum Curator, Major John Stephens, CD (Ret’d) is awarded the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers

As many of you will know, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Museum and Archive is maintained totally by volunteers, without their hard work the museum wouldn’t exist. It is fitting that, on Sunday 24 of April 2022, during National Volunteer Week, our Curator, Major John Stephens, CD (Ret’d) should be awarded the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers on behalf of the Governor General of Canada by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario her Honour Elizabeth Dowdeswell, OC, O Ont.

John has, over the last decade, made incredible improvements to our beloved museum that have been praised throughout the Regimental family and the Canadian Army in general. These improvements came because of the time, effort, and attention to detail that John has invested but also because of the incredible team of volunteers he has been able to “rope-in” over the years. Our museum volunteers come from all walks of life; some serving or former soldiers in the Regiment, some through their studies at Toronto schools and others from their interest in military history. Wherever they came from and regardless of if they helped-out for a couple of months or have been with us for ten years, they have made a difference. They have logged over 13,000 volunteer hours and contributed to telling the story of our Riflemen, the Regiment, and Canada that tens of thousands of visitors to our museum at Casa Loma see every year.

Thank-you for your time and congratulations on a well-deserved award.

CWO (Ret) Shaun Kelly, CD

Acting Curator

The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Museum and Archive

March/April Update

We wanted to take this opportunity to provide a brief update from our Museum Team during these rather unique circumstances.

Before we do that however, I think it’s important to step back for a moment to look at the bigger picture. While some of us are able to stay and work from home, many of our regimental family are front line workers who don’t have that luxury – fire fighters (a LOT of firefighters actually), EMS, doctors, nurses, and many others that work in businesses deemed “essential.” We know that many others have had their livelihoods disrupted as most businesses and services are forced to close. Many of our band members for example, have seen their civilian gigs shut down indefinitely. And many others have gone operational and are waiting to assignments to support the COVID-19 or other crises which may arise.

Our thoughts are certainly with them all.

QOR Recruit Tours

The Wednesday before Casa Loma was closed, we we’re very pleased to welcome 60 new recruits for a tour of our exhibits. The museum opened in 1957 in order to train new recruits to the QOR Depot in the history of their regiment, and while thousands of Casa Loma visitor get to learn about us each year, our primary purpose continues to be sharing our history with new members of the regimental family.

The recruits were divided into two groups, and were led through our third floor exhibits by the Curator, Major John Stephens (Ret’d) and Deputy Curator Chief Warrant Officer Shaun Kelly (Ret’d). The tour also included our exhibits in Sir Henry Pellatt’s dressing room which includes a photograph of a rather slim young Henry in athletic garb, taken after winning the North American Championship for the mile run.  Once again we were asked what his winning time was but once again we didn’t have an answer. Now however we do!  From Sir Henry Pellatt: The King of Casa Loma, a 1982 biography by Toronto writer Charlie Oreskovich:

“In 1879, at the age of 20, Pellatt ran the mile in New York, beating the U.S. champion and setting a world record at 4:42.4.”

This is just under a minute slower than the current world record. It should be noted however that at that time there was no actual international body to certify “world” records and while it may well have been a North American record, it appears according to Wikipedia, that there were certainly  runners in the United Kingdom beating that time in 1879…..for whatever that’s worth!

National Volunteer Week and the Work Goes On

Last week was National Volunteer week and so I would like to recognize our amazing team of volunteers.

On March 12th we held our last volunteer night at the castle, and in anticipation of Casa Loma’s closure, did our best to stabilize our exhibits and storage areas. Casa Loma closed a few days later until further notice.

Since that time we have continued to hold Thursday evening Zoom meetings with our volunteer team, many of whom have unfortunately, been laid off from their day jobs. Several continue to work on museum projects from home, including database updates (logging onto our computer remotely), clean up of our image collections, continuing updates to the historic timelines and other additions to the website, responding to research requests, creating resources to use at home, processing archive collections, designing promotional items, social media posting, etc.

We very much appreciate having such a dedicated team of volunteers who are willing to continue their support despite the challenges we’re all facing these days. At the same time its great to see their support and concern for their fellow team members!

And of course when the time comes, we are all looking forward to returning to the museum itself when it is safe to do so.

In Case You Missed It

Sunday 26 April 2020 was the 160th Anniversary of the formation of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada. Due to the COVID-19 situation, we were not of course able to hold our usual annual parade at Moss Park Armoury.  In lieu of that, we held a virtual parade through a YouTube event launch. Over 200 people were watching live and to date over 1,100 people have watch the video.  In case you’ve missed it, you can watch it below.

2020 Museum Volunteer Recognition Night

On Thursday 6 February 2020 we held our annual volunteer recognition night at The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Officers’ Mess in Moss Park Armory.

The Regimental Museum and Archive is a completely volunteer run operation and this year the museum saw 1,444 hours of service provided by 60 volunteers. This evening is an opportunity to recognize our most regular volunteers with certificates for the total number of hours they have provided to the museum (as of December 31, 2019 and rounded to the 25 hours completed.)

Certificates of Volunteer Appreciation were presented to following by our Museum Board Chair, Mr. James Lutz:

  • Private Steven Hu (25 hrs)
  • Master Corporal Chris Thiers-Gomez (25 hrs)
  • *Master Corporal Mark Kusi-Appiah (35 hrs)
  • Corporal Mario Carvalho (50 Hrs)
  • Officer Cadet Steven Ye (75 hrs)
  • Mr. Colin Sedgwick-Pinn (100 hrs)
  • Photographer Ms. Anne Frazer (150 hrs)
  • *Ms. Meryn Winters (150 hrs)
  • Weapons Officer Mr. Rob Grieve (175 hrs)
  • *Captain Ken Kominek (200 hrs)
  • Collections Officer Ms. Cheryl Copson (550 hrs)
  • *Collections Assistant Ms. Briahna Bernard (550 hrs)
  • Assistant Curator Sergeant Graham Humphrey (775 hrs)
  • Deputy Curator CWO Shaun Kelly (Ret’d)  (900 hrs)

*Unable to attend but presented later.

Those with the most “life-time” hours were also presented with $50 gift certificates for Cibo Wine Bar which were kindly donated by the Liberty Entertainment Group.

We were also pleased to present certificates of appreciation to recognize the support of the following:

  • Commanding Officer LCol Frank Lamie
  • Regimental Sergeant Major CWO Donovan O’Halloran
  • Casa Loma Curator Marcela Torres

Thank you to everyone who has helped support our museum in 2019 with their time and talents!

If you are interested in volunteering with us, you can find more information and an application form on our website.

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Volunteer Recognition Reception

The Museum held their latest annual volunteer recognition reception in the Library at the Royal Canadian Military Institute on Thursday February 7th.  The purpose of the evening was to give thanks and recognition to our dedicated and hardworking volunteers.  In 2018 our team put in just over 1900 hours although we can be sure there were more hours that weren’t recorded!

Besides our weekly volunteers, three members of the museum’s Board of Governors were present. We were also pleased to have Commanding Officer, LCol Frank Lamie, and MWO Jeff Johnston on behalf of the Regimental Sergeant Major, who both expressed their appreciation for the work of our volunteers and the importance of the museum both internally and externally.

And of course being museum nerds, we were also pleased to receive a tour of new exhibits installed in the last year by the RCMI Museum Curator, Ryan Goldsworthy.

Museum board chair Jim Lutz presented appreciation certificates to the following volunteers who as of 31 December 2018, had provided at least 25 hours of service since 2012 (issued in 25 hour increments):

  • 25 Hours – Mr Colin Sedgwick-Pinn
  • 25 Hours – O/Cdt Steven Ye
  • 50 Hours – Pte Ashley Patoine
  • 50 Hours – Mr Matt Noel
  • 75 Hours – Ms Meryn Winters
  • 200 Hours – Capt Ken Kominek
  • 425 Hours – Ms Cheryl Copson
  • 700 Hours – Sgt Graham Humphrey
  • 750 Hours – CWO (Ret’d) Shaun Kelly

Certificates will also be provided to the following who were unable to attend the reception:

  • 200 Hours – Mr Alex Meyers
  • 425 Hours – Ms Briahna Bernard

Our museum team has a great cross section of serving soldiers, former serving soldiers, museum professionals, and public historians. If you’d be interested in joining our team and helping at the museum on Thursday evenings, please see our volunteering info page and complete a volunteer application. Of if you have questions, you can email the Curator at museum@qormuseum.org.

If you are unable to volunteer but would like to support the work of the Regimental Museum, please consider becoming a sustaining donor!

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2016 Volunteer Recognition Reception

Last week we were pleased to hold our volunteer recognition ceremony at The Queen’s Own Rifles Sergeants’ Mess to thank many of the 86 volunteers who provide 1,731 hours during 2016.

Volunteers do a very wide range of task: painting, construction, cataloging, database entry, creating exhibits, cleaning, photography, social media, taking the museum on the road, planning, renovations, creating labels and background panels, research, transcription, digitization, re-enacting, events – I’m sure I’ve missed a lot of other activities.

Some volunteers put in a few hours each year and several a lot more but all our appreciated for the skills, expertise and commitment they bring to the museum.

Fourteen of our volunteers have put in more more than 25 hours and our top five were thanked with some gifts provided by Museum Board member Adam Hermant:

235 hours

  • Capt (Ret’d) Larry Hicks (the most hours again in 2016 and our indispensable photography technician.

Over 150 hours:

  • MCpl Graham Humphrey
  • CWO (Ret’d) Shaun Kelly

Over 100 hours:

  • Cheryl Copson

Over 75 hours:

  • Laura Colangelo
  • Alex Meyers

Over 50 hours:

  • Elizabeth Taugher
  • Nicole Lines (nee Simpson)

Over 25 hours:

  • WO Emily Kenney
  • Cpl Justin Dremanis
  • Cpl Dave Strachan
  • Coleman Weir
  • Rob Grieve
  • Jim Lutz

We also want to thank the Commanding Officer LCol Sandi Banerjee and RSM CWO Paul Martin for their outstanding support and for joining us at our reception.

Thanks also to the Sergeants’ Mess for hosting us and to our generous supporter for offsetting the costs of the reception!

If you are interested in volunteering at the Regimental Museum – whether you’re a serving or former member of the regiment or just someone who thinks this might be a cool way to spend their Thursday evenings, you can find out more information on our Volunteer page.

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Bayonets in the Bathtub: A Thursday night at the regimental museum

Even though I arrived 15 minutes before our designated “start time”, Graham had already unlocked the office, set up tables for cataloging, and tried to sort out a DVD display that wasn’t working properly; Cheryl had started sorted through and ensuring the proper documentation for a pile of new accessions; and Elizabeth was re-gluing a loose photo on our window exhibit.

Down the hallway, Rob was giving a tour of the museum – interspersed with a lot of reminiscing – to Josie who had joined the QOR at aged 18 in 1972 and one of the first women to wear the QOR cap badge and parachute with them. Later in the evening Cheryl and Emily who are working our “Women in the QOR” exhibit for next March, looked through photos Josie had brought along and made arrangements to formally interview her in the near future.

Alex arrived and got to work installing a fourth hanging rail in the uniform closet above one of the existing rails in a space with a very high ceiling. This will allow us to spread out and better organize this part of our collection but also means a lot of drilling while standing almost on the top of a step ladder.

Laura got to work cataloguing an archival collection from Professor George Henry Needler, Professor of German at the University of Toronto for 45 years, and a Queen’s Own veteran of the Northwest Field Force of 1885. During the First World War, Needler commanded UoT’s Canadian Officers’ Training Corps, and would later publish his own experiences out West in Louis Riel, The Rebellion of 1885. It should be noted that cataloging an archival collection takes a LOT of patience, attention to detail, and ability to grasp a logical organization of the material it contains.

Larry headed into his photography “studio” in the corner of the photo storage room – under the sloping eves and against an internal brick wall. There he continued his seemingly never ending task of photographing each and every artifact in our collection – which include a continuous intake of new accessions. These photographs are used for our collection database, our website, exhibits, banners and signs, shared with family researchers, and uploaded to our Flickr account (currently with over 7,700 photos).

Dave and his nephew Coleman arrived and set to work cataloging objects – photos, uniform pieces, books, equipment, insignia, and all kinds of military ephemera. Some of these were items that had been in the collection but were being cataloged in detail – a project we’d been working on since 2012 – and others were new accessions received over the past year. This cataloging includes detailed descriptions of the artifact, its provenance, size, material, dates, condition and whatever other information we might have, as well as assigning and attaching/affixing an object number. Eventually all this information will be entered into our database which already includes over 1,600 items. And the database allows us to upload our catalog online so anyone can search through our collection!

Alison was in the office working studiously on her computer creating medal description labels that will be added to walls of our “Riflemen” room. These will help visitors identify medals in the many shadows boxes and understand what they were awarded for.

Emily put her fine arts background to work again while planning how best to finish the photo “stand” we created for Ridgeway which consists of two QOR soldiers painted on a wooden sheet with cut outs to poke your heads through for that perfect selfie! Even in its 75% finished state, it was a big hit at Ridgeway in June and we hope to have it set up again for QOR Day at Casa Loma on November 5th.

Graham also was hard at work cataloging objects and finished up his initial batch just in time to receive delivery of a new acquisition – an amazing set of five photo albums which document the WWII service of a junior QOR officer from 1939 to 1946. In great condition, well mounted and almost entirely labelled, they will provide a great addition to our understanding of this period of the regiment’s service.

By now Alex and Elizabeth had also joined the catalogers and were certainly making progress on reducing our backlog!

Meanwhile, as Curator, I was assigning tasks, answering questions, recalling (more or less) information, making decisions, looking for scotch tape, and doing my best to steer the ship.

Part way through the evening I was pleased meet and provide a tour with Captain (Ret’d) Rick Towey, newly appointed Curator of the Royal Regiment of Canada’s regimental museum, located in Fort York Armoury. Rick is anxious to get some advice on how to get started with his new role – the museum (or collection of “stuff dumped in a room” as Rick described it) and some of us will be visiting the Royal’s Museum shortly and hopefully provide some helpful guidance!

As you can see, on any given night there are a wide variety of tasks, all of which are necessary to make things work like a well-oiled machine – more or less. And our volunteers are come with a variety of skills, experience and interests which are critical to creating the kind of museum team we need:

  • Graham, Emily, Dave and Alison are all currently serving members of the Regiment
  • Larry, Shaun (on sick call last night) and Nicole (also absent as she plans her wedding later this month) are all former serving members of the Regiment
  • Cheryl and Elizabeth are graduates of museum studies programs
  • Alex has a Masters in Public History
  • And Laura and Coleman just have an interest in history, museums and archives

A creative, cheerful, hardworking and dedicated team – what more could a curator ask for?


(And in case you were wondering, yes we do store bayonets in a bathtub – where else would you put them?!)

Volunteer Recognition Night 2016

On Thursday January 28th over 30 volunteers joined us at the Officers’ Mess for a reception to recognize volunteer service to the museum in 2015. In total 93 volunteers put in over 1,600 hours!

We were pleased to be joined by Honorary Lieutenant Colonel Lionel Goffart, members of the Museum Board of Governors,  and the Deputy Commanding Officer and President of the Officers’ Mess Committee, Major Shawn Stewart.

Thanks to Adam Hermant, Rob Chan, and Pat Di Donato of the Liberty Entertainment Group, we were able to presents some gifts to our top volunteers in terms of hours of service:

  1. Larry Hicks (235 hours)
  2. Graham Humphrey (184 hours)
  3. Shaun Kelly (121 hours)
  4. Ken Kominek (88 hours)
  5. Cheryl Copson (77 hours)
  6. Joe Wyatt (76 hours)
  7. Rob Grieve (73 hours)

The presentations were followed by a tour of the various messes at Moss Park Armoury which are filled with fascinating collections of military heritage.

We’re also pleased that some of our occasional volunteers have expressed an interest in becoming more regular and we look forward to another successful year in 2016!

Volunteer Profile: Jim Lutz

This is the first in a series of interviews profiling our museum volunteers. We begin with Jim Lutz (at right in photo above) who has served on the museum board of governors for several years. A US veteran of the Vietnam war, Jim also served for many years as a civilian instructor with the Queen’s Own Rifles affiliated 17 Upper Canada College Rifles, 96 Trinity College School and 2881 QOR cadet corps.

How did you end up volunteering at the museum? 

As a member of the QOR Trust Fund, I was involved with the City staff in transitioning Casa Loma to the Liberty Group, and I have stayed involved with the Museum because of my interest in history.

What background do you bring with you that you think helps you contribute in this role? 

I have a strong background in military history, having been a graduate student of C.P.Stacey at the University of Toronto.  I have been associated with the QOR for over 30 years, so I know its history well and have known many of its distinguished veterans.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering at the museum? 

I enjoy helping to preserve our history, and meeting the other volunteers.

What aspect or content of the museum are you most passionate about and why? 

I enjoy reading all the documents in the archives, which tell so much about the history of the QOR.

Is there one object in the collection that really excites you or that you think people should know about? 

Two items: The Paardeberg bugle, and the number side panel from one of the D-Day landing craft that was preserved by the Lieutenant Colonel Elliot Dalton who commanded one of the QOR companies in the first wave on D-Day.

Douglas William’s bugle used during the South African War to sound the charge at the Battle of Paardeberg

Why do you think a museum like this is important? 

The Museum shows the volunteer spirit of Torontonians who served in the QOR, and how these people participated in some of the most important events of modern history.

Would you recommend volunteering to others and if so why? 

Depends upon your interests – if you love history, or if you have served in the QOR, or if you enjoy re-enactment, or if you value local history, then any of these is a good reason to volunteer.  Also, you will see tangible results of your work, which will be shared with all the visitors to Casa Loma.

Volunteer Recognition Night

On February 26th we held our 2014 Volunteer Recognition event with a reception in the Library at the newly opened Royal Canadian Military Institute. Volunteers were joined by members of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Trust. As a small thank you each volunteer received a QOR pen (courtesy of HCol (Ret’d) Paul Hughes).

Special presentations were made to Capt (Ret’d) Larry Hicks and MCpl Graham Humphrey who each gave over 100 hours of very much appreciated service to the museum in 2014. In total, 78 volunteers provided over 1,000 hours of service last year!

We were also pleased to receive a tour of the new RCMI facility from Curator Gregory Loughton.

Bravo Zulu!

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2014 Volunteer Recognition Night

On February 13th, we held our first Museum Volunteer Recognition Night to thank those volunteers who have helped us out in the 2012 and 2013. Thirty-five volunteers and guest gathered the Queen’s Own Rifles Officers’ Mess at Moss Park Armoury for food and refreshments all courtesy of a donor who wishes to remain anonymous. We’d like to thank the President of the Mess Committee and the mess staff for a great spread!

We we’re also pleased to be joined by RSM Mark Shannon and Captain Adam Hermant, President of the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Trust which “owns and operates” the museum.

From October 2012 to December 31, 2013, seventy-four volunteers provided over 950 hours of service! These volunteers come from former members of the regiment and their families; serving members of the regiment; students from various museum studies programs; and friends of the regiment and museum – each bringing different talents, skills and experience. This event was also an opportunity for them to meet and get to know each other.

We have an ambitious “to-do” list for the museum and we can’t hope to make any significant progress without the help of volunteers. It was a little slow to get started with just Clay and Nancy Downes and Larry Hicks in the Fall of 2012 but as the word got out, volunteers were coming out in greater and greater numbers.

So what have they been doing? They’ve catalogued and photographed artifacts, cleaned display cases, built storage shelves, constructed exhibit walls, painted, moved display cabinets, planned our First World War commemorations and activities, and organized and support events (including members of the band) just to name a few things.

We also took this opportunity to recognize some volunteer who had put in significant hours of service:

  • Lieutenant Colonel (Ret) John Fotheringham and Master Corporal Graham Humphrey each put in over 25 hours
  • Captain (Ret) Larry Hicks put in over 50 hours and
  • Nancy and Clay Downes together put in over 200 hours of service!

Special Presentation to Nancy and Clay Downes for their 200+ hours of service in the past 14 months!
Special Presentation to Nancy and Clay Downes for their 200+ hours of service in the past 14 months!

Clay and Nancy were presented with the first edition of the QOR Portraits book as a special thank you.

RSM Mark Shannon also took a moment to thank on behalf of the regiment, Curator Major (Ret) John Stephens and Assistant Curator CWO (Ret) Shaun Kelly for their service over the past eighteen months.

Curator Major John Stephens  (L) with RSM CWO Mark Shannon (R)
Curator Major John Stephens (L) with RSM CWO Mark Shannon (R)

Thanks to all our volunteers from 2012 and 2013 even if you couldn’t make our recognition night and we look forward to another successful year in 2014!

WANTED: Social Media Nerd (Volunteer)

TwitterOK well the position is actually Social Media Assistant not nerd, but you probably get the drift. We’re looking for someone comfortable with and experienced in using social media to connect and engage with visitors, friends, volunteers and financial supporters of our museum. Definitely someone who is familiar with and a regular user of Facebook and Twitter and preferably someone who understands Pinterest and WordPress as well. Experience using HootSuite or  other tools for managing social media is also a plus!

You’d assist in preparing “this day in history” posts, following social media mentions of the QOR or our museum, re-posting items of interest from similar organizations, responding to comments/questions from followers and even perhaps creating some blog posts.

facebook_logoYou’d work with the Curator within the guidelines we are developing and would work from your own computer and/or smartphone or other device. Besides social media cred, you need have an interest in the history of the Queen’s Own Rifles (duh) and ideally a connection to the regiment (but the latter isn’t a deal breaker!)

If you think you might be interested in taking on this volunteer position, please send an email to museum@qormuseum.org (please don’t apply via the “comments” section below although we’re happy to respond to questions about the position that way.) You should include a description of your experience in relation to what we’re looking for above and links to your FB, Twitter accounts and other accounts as a kind of portfolio for us to check out!

We look forward to hearing from you soon!