My summer working with Deborah can be divided into three sections: planning, organizing, and moving (and organizing again). Our task of creating a space for the artifacts and then moving those artifacts to their assigned shelf or rack was daunting but working alongside Deborah and her unparalleled team of volunteers made my experience fun and meaningful.

Before the organizing or moving could begin, Deborah and I had to plan. We visited both the Kelowna and Vernon museums to discuss storage ideas. The Kelowna Museum had a beautiful archival room with tall, well protected shelves. Each shelf was assigned a number and a letter – to find artifacts later. I took note of their wonderful use of magnets for changeable labels in the event that a shelf needed to be added or removed. The Vernon museum, like the Haney museum, was currently planning a re-organization. We were able to share and brainstorm ideas with them to take home to put into use in our own archive room. The next couple of weeks were spent with Deborah and I working on displays for the museum, while also researching and planning the best shelves and hangers, and the best acid-free storage solutions that fit within our limited budget. We would be busy all day, and still emailing each other at night - “do you think this would work?”, or “I think we should try this out!”

The next step was the organization. Not only did we have to organize the artifacts to be moved, but we also had to draw out a plan;, set up shelves and hangers;, order more shelves;, hire experts for our rolling shelving;, and then set up more shelving. It did not take Gary and I long to learn how to trim down the metal standards and set them up – that doesn’t mean it was easy work! Those shelves went up with the blood, sweat, and tears of many volunteers and employees including Deborah and me. In order to fill our newly built shelves, each artifact had to be moved; we inspected each artifact for damage, checked accession numbers, made lists (and checked them twice);, and safely packed all artifacts in acid-free paper. Now the moving could start!

We first moved the fonds from the upstairs rolling shelves. All 134 boxes were moved to the new building with the help of five strong men. Leona and I removed the boxes from the truck and put them in order on the shelves. The boxes of fonds would later be moved a second time to the vault, and then unpacked by Lise and Nancy in two afternoons. After the fonds were moved, we ran into the problem of not having enough shelving set up. Gary and I began building more shelving while a team of volunteers packed more boxes. The next time I went to the basement there were many boxes stacked in the hallways and the shelves were almost emptied! That meant it was time for another moving day. This time it was Leona and Kerry who volunteered their time and their truck, squeezing in two busy moving days between all their exciting summer plans. In the beginning my biggest worry was moving the bigger items, such as couches, dining tables, sewing machines, but in the end, it was the smaller, more delicate items that were the biggest concern. We made sure to wrap all our delicate artifacts the best we could in acid-free paper, and some items, such as our boxed dresses, could only be carried a certain way as not to cause any damage. For me, organizing and moving the clothing was one of the most rewarding tasks, especially when our volunteer Doreen realized all the space and light she would have to work on incoming clothing artifacts. I learned how to use self-tapping screws to assemble a space on the rolling shelving to hang all our clothing – the metal pipes donated by Darryl at Shuswap Refrigeration.

Throughout our busy summer, the most important thing was our volunteers. If it was not for the amazing people who volunteered their time at Haney, moving into our new archive space would not have been possible. Deborah Chapman is an amazing archivist whose passion for history and museums is inspiring. All the volunteers, Lise, Nancy, Doreen, Leona, and their husbands, deserve the biggest thank-you, not only from myself but from the entirety of Salmon Arm. If it was not for Deborah and her tireless team working with an extremely limited budget, Salmon Arm would not be able to brag about our wonderful R.J. Haney Heritage Museum and Village and show it off to their visiting friends and families. While you may not see them when you are visiting the village during the summer or during one of the wonderful events that they have, you should remember that everything that happens here is because of Deborah and her team.

My time working with Deborah was inspiring and educational. Deborah and the other archives ladies made me feel right at home and taught me many lifelong lessons. While I learned so many museum related things, such as my newfound love for archives, these ladies also taught me a lot about following my own path in life and doing what makes me happy. This group of ladies are strong, happy, and well-educated and they encouraged me in many ways. Since the summer has ended, I have started a job-shadow experience with an archivist in Camrose, Alberta where I attend university. I have begun looking into museum careers, and I hope to stay friends with the ladies that I met this summer working for R.J. Haney Heritage Museum and Village. 

Lindsay Ault

Editor's note:  A word about our partners

This project was made possible by  funding from  the Museum Assistance Program, Young Canada Works, and the Shuswap Community Foundation.  Setting up the archives and collections work rooms included in-kind donations  from Dinoflex, Deb McKay, Cuyler Page, Wayne Peace, Gary Cruikshank,  Bruce Bolton, and Doug Hlina. Thank you!

The buff Haney moving team was assisted by Leona and Kerry Orchard, Ian  Tait, Bryan Kassa, Otto Engers, Terry and Jodi Buker, Pat McClosky, Garry Landers, Lee Fraser, and Patrick Bryan Mills.

 The  Salmon Arm Museum's Archives and Collections Management Departments are equal opportunity "employers." Call us at 250-832-5289 if you'd like to spend time with us.