For three months I had the privilege of basically working my dream job. I know sometimes when people get this opportunity, they discover that what they thought was their dream job is the furthest thing from it. Thankfully, that is not how my experience ended. Everything that I got to do, see, touch, and experience, not to mention the people that I met, solidified my dream job as something that I could definitely see myself enjoying as a lifetime career.

While I did have some idea of what I was going to be doing during my time at R. J. Haney Heritage Village and Museum, never in my wildest dreams could I have fathomed the scale of what I was going to accomplish during my contract. Obviously, I started out slow, after all this was my first time working in an establishment of this size. My first day Deborah walked me through Chenhall’s system for classifying cultural objects and then explained how to officially accession an object into the archives using that system. From the receiving of an object all the way to the final step of placing said object onto a shelf in storage, I learned every little detail. Along the way Deborah passed along the necessary knowledge of proper artefact care; temperature, storage, and cleaning. Of course, I also had to learn the technical side of working in the archives. A whole new computer program to master, but I like to think I picked up my new language, so to speak, quite readily.

My tasks and duties in archives storage, to an unfamiliar outsider likely looked tedious and repetitive. I won’t lie. That is pretty much exactly how I would describe what I did. Data entry over and over again is tedious and repetitive. But when working with such important historical artefacts one must be careful. Small errors today become headaches for the future. I should know, I encountered many of these headaches, anywhere from months to decades after their initial start as just an error. The repetitive aspect comes from me being given the task of confirming locations for every single artefact in the archives storage and a portion of the artefacts in the archives vault. Again, to an individual unfamiliar with this monumental task, yes, that sounds boring. Walking back and forth, from room to room, sitting then standing, climbing ladders, crouching down, dragging, lifting, pulling… Sure, that fits my definition of repetitive. But touching and seeing? Every box I opened, every shelf I checked, every single one was different from the one before it. To me, that is as far from repetitive as possible. Every day was a new experience. Sure, I was performing the same tasks, but it was always with new artefacts.

On top of getting to work in an amazing building, surrounded by history, I also got to work alongside some great people. Aside from Deborah, there are many loyal volunteers dedicated to preserving history. They welcomed me warmly and shared their knowledge not just of the museum and archival practices but also of Salmon Arm, which was greatly appreciated as a newcomer to the area. Not only did I get to see artefacts that I likely wouldn’t have otherwise been able to have access to, but I got to work with a bunch of people who matched my enthusiasm for history and preservation.

Like I said at the beginning, having the opportunity to work at R. J. Haney Heritage Village and Museum was absolutely amazing and I am so thankful for having this opportunity. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I’ll certainly be keeping this experience at the forefront of my mind moving ahead in my career.


From the Curator:

Breanne's position was partially funded by a grant from Get Youth Working.
She literally saved my life, helping me to complete the project, consolidating the museum and archival collections in a bright new space and updating the museum database location fields, on time and on budget!

Thank you, B.