Thursday, May 26, 2011

Upcoming Events

The Canadian history and heritage fields have a busy couple of weeks ahead of them. There are number of national and provincial conferences being held, as well as a few smaller workshops and online events.
  • The Canadian Library Association annual conference is currently (May 25th to May 28th) being held in Halifax. The program can be found here and a number of participants are tweeting there impressions under the hashtag #CLA2011.
  • The Canadian Historical Association is holding its annual conference in conjunction with the 2011 Congress of Humanities and Social Sciences, from May 30th to June 1st.
  • The Association of Canadian Archivists' (ACA) 2011 conference will be held in Toronto from June 2 to June 4, 2011. The complete program is available online and the conference hashtag is #ACA2011
  • June 1st is this month's #builtheritage twitter chat. This month's focus is on local engagement.
  • This year's Ontario Heritage Conference is being held in Coburg, June 3rd-June 5th. The theme of the conference is "Creating the Will" and the conference schedule can be seen here.
  • June 15-17th is the Ontario Archives Association conference, which is being held in Thunder Bay this year. The full program is available online.
  • Doors and trails open events are also occurring in communities throughout Ontario.
I will be attending the ACA conference next week. I am particularly looking forward to two sessions focusing on the issues surrounding the archival preservation of Indigenous heritage. I am also planning to use twitter to follow some of the other conferences that I am unable to attend.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Natural Heritage: Dark Sky Reserve

This year marks the Centennial anniversary of Parks Canada. This anniversary seems to have contributed to a recent increase in media coverage of natural heritage sites and events. As a result of this inspiration, I've decide to start a series of blogs focusing on Canada's rich natural heritage.

After some debate, I decided that this first post should feature a unique park which is rich in both heritage and forward thinking initiatives. The Jasper National Park in Alberta, is the largest most northerly located park in the Canadian Rockies. The park includes a range of natural and man made heritage features such as: the Sunwapta Falls, the Athabasca Glacier, the Yellowhead Pass, and Jasper House.

Additionally, in March 2011 Jasper was officially designated as a 'dark sky preserve.' This designation means that light usage within the preserve is restricted as a means of preserving a natural dark sky. Currently, Jasper is the largest dark sky preserve in the world. Jasper is also the only dark sky preserve in Canada to encompass a town. More information on Canada's other dark sky preserves can be found here.

Prior to learning about Jasper's designation as a dark sky preserve, I had no idea that such a designation even existed. Furthermore, the idea of the sky being something in need of preserving hadn't really crossed my mind --granted, I'm a bit spoiled by living in rural Northern Ontario which has by most people's standards dark skies. However, considering the ever expanding cities and the rate at which light pollution is generated, Jasper's substantial dark sky preserve is a significant step towards preserving natural heritage that is endanger of being lost to development.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Come On Over! Northeastern Ontario A to Z

May 10th marked the release of Come on Over! Northeastern Ontario A to Z by Dieter Buse and Graeme Mount, professors emeritus of Laurentian University. From September to November 2010, while developing the book Buse and Mount were featured weekly on CBC Northern Ontario Radio’s Morning North program discussing communities from their book.

Come on Over! features antidotes and histories from over 100 communities in Northeaster Ontario. Excerpts of the book can be viewed online here. Buse and Mount have managed to succinctly cover a range of material, have used approachable language, and provided reference citations for anyone looking to explore their sources in detail. It's great to see Northern Ontario history being explored and discussed on a popular forum and appreciated by a range of people.

An official launch of Come On Over! will be held Thursday May 19th at the Art Gallery of Sudbury at 7 p.m.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Great Lives Podcast

My most recent podcast addiction is to BBC Radio's Great Lives series. Great Lives is hosted by Matthew Parris. The podcast provides biographical looks at notable people. Each episode features Parris and a guest. Each guest nominates someone they deem worthy of the title 'great life' and Parris, an expert witness, and the guest then proceed to discuss that nominated person's life.

My favourite episodes so far include:
1) Lynne Truss discussing the life of author Lewis Carroll.
2) Sir Gerry Robinson looking at the life of Samuel Beckett.
3) John Harris, Parris, and Barry Miles discuss John Lennon.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Built Heritage Chat: Preservation Jobs

Today was the #builtheritage chat for May which focused on preservation jobs and employment within the preservation field. The chat was moderated by @jonaskayla, @PresConf, @PresNation, and @PreservationJob. A complete transcript of the chat is available here.

The first question of the chat was What’s more critical to a successful preservation career – degrees or experience? The overwhelming majority of responses emphasized the importance of experience and the diversity of types of experience that organizations are looking for. It was also reinforced that a balance is best: a degree in something, volunteer experience, enthusiasm, and a friendly personality have the potential to contribute to a great preservation career.

Building on the first question the second portion of the chat focused on the question What's your number one tip to recent grads or job hunters? Answers to this question built upon the idea of gaining experience in the preservation field. Volunteering, internships, shadowing, researching, and taking low paying summer jobs were suggestions of ways to gain experience prior to finding that ideal preservation job. Chat participants also emphasized the importance of networking, skill building at conferences and workshops, and becoming involved in your local preservation organizations. It was also noted that the preservation field is wide ranging and hires people with a wide range of skills - human resources, presentation, digital expertise, marketing, etc. - and that grads should took to diversify their strengths.

The third portion of the chat focused on the feel good question, What is the best thing about working in the heritage preservation field? A large portion of the responses focused on the variety of the field, the passion of the people, and the feeling of being involved in something meaningful. A couple of my favourite responses included: "Building something that will strengthen our community. Small towns in Eastern Ontario need help. We can be a catalyst." from @spencervillemil and "inspiring a new set of people - young, old, etc. Getting the message out how important our history is" from @ATHeritageArea.

The last segment of the chat focused on What is the best way to connect with other preservationists? Seeing as how this was a twitter chat it is hardly surprising that many people mentioned social media as a means of connecting. Other mentioned techniques included: conferences, email lists, forums, following up face to face meetings with an email, and meeting up with local organizations while traveling.

In addition to the 'official' questions asked during the chat a few of the chat's participants sparked great discussion with their own questions. @ raised the question: What are some of the current/upcoming challenges for pres. orgs? What skills can employees bring? Responses focused on grant application skills, presentation skills, a working knowledge of the industry, familiarity with the heritage act, and a willingness to learn.

This was a great chat with a lot of great ideas for those looking to become more involved in their local heritage community. The next #builtheritage chat will be on June 1st at 4pm and the potential topic is local engagement.

Doors and Trails Open

My latest blog post on "Exploring Local Heritage Through Doors and Trails Open" can be seen over on the Active History site.

Today is also the third #builtheritage chat on twitter. This month's topic is preservation careers and jobs.