Tuesday, December 29

Cupar Centennial Pool

The Cupar Lions Club began in Cupar in 1964.  Unfortunately records of their activities between 1964-2005 were lost to flooding. They have throughout the past 50 years been critical to fund raising and assisting the community. The first major project was the Cupar Centennial Pool. Recently a past Lion's member, George Stuart, found in his personal papers a financial statement for the pool committee between 1965-67, and sent it to our museum. 

Another member, Jack Mitchell, found a few black and white photos that he shared with us. Unfortunately the people are not identified.

Krammer    Construction  

Lion's Fundraising Auction for 
Swimming Pool


Hopefully other Lion's members will find the odd document or photo from their private collection of Lion's activities that they can share, or better yet write up a history for us before their history and contributions to this community are totally lost.

Saturday, November 28

Cupar Museum Christmas Supper

This year marked the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Cupar and District Heritage Museum.  Each year the museum hosts a Christmas supper for their members and volunteers.  This year 40 people attended.  The museum board likes to attach a cultural event to the evening. This year local singer Nikki Wagner entertained us.  What I especially enjoyed was not just her beautiful voice, but the stories about the significance that each song had to her musically talented family.  Each song had a memory of a period or event in her life, some happy and others quite sad and tragic.  These stories were intimate and revealing.

  The memory of family members who have passed on continues to live on and is honoured and shared with others through music.

Monday, November 16

Collections Digitization

(Photo : Cam Hart workshop leader) 
A number of years ago when I was still teaching in the Film and Video Department at the University of Regina, I asked a student who had been in my 200 level production class and was, after 4 years of study, about to graduate, what he had learned. He simply said “I learned to focus.”
Through the years the word “focus” has stayed with me.

 If you asked me what I learned from the Introduction to Collections Digitization Workshop held recently in Saskatoon, it would  be the need to “focus.” Too often when I attend workshops I think I have to do everything, implement everything I have heard at that particular workshop.   I become overwhelmed, then I remember  the word “focus.”   I am not alone. Each of our little museums has a board of directors and we need to “focus.” 

The workshop gives us directions, but we need to decide where to go, how much we can achieve, and lay out a plan before we begin. The word POLICY has always put me into a panic, but suddenly I realized that a policy assists in giving “focus.”

What does our museum feel is critical to digitize? Why is it critical? For what purpose are we doing it? How will we do it? How will we use it in the future? How will future generations access the information as technology changes? Will our digitized information be corrupted and be unaccessible?
I began to realize that by asking questions it would help us “focus” on our needs. The workshop gave us basic technical information, online resources, software available, hardware and equipment needs etc, but it is up to each of us to “focus.”

Tuesday, November 10

folklore activities questions

I attended the Qu”Appelle Valley Network meeting in early October. One of the joys of these meetings is the mini workshops that happen. Of special interest was a workshop on What is Intangible Cultural Heritage, presented by folklorist, Kristin Catherwood. She has graciously allowed me to share a set of questions to assist people in getting the memory juices flowing. I hope you will find it of interest and useful.
You may contact her at kristin@fromthegap.com

Monday, October 5

Harvest Lunch

Thanks to all the Cupar museum board members and our many volunteers for making our Harvest Lunch on October 3 a great success. We had approximately 88 people attend. The few remaining pies, bread and soup were sold at the end. Last year we were at the town hall, but this year we were back at the Legion/Library building as our medical services have found their permanent home at Shalom.

Thursday, October 1

Lipton Hebrew Cemetery

I guess like everyone, I don't know where the time goes. Summer as usual was too short. Sad to say one of our big outings was a trip to KFC in Fort Qu'Appelle. On the way home, north on highway #35, I realized that we weren't really that far from the Lipton Hebrew Cemetery, only 8 km as the crow flies from Lipton really isn't that helpful. Follow #35 north to Hayward road, turn east (right) for about 10km on a gravel road, then north (left) for another 2km about. Beautiful countryside.

The grave houses are rare to this province and even though we were welcomed by big vicious mosquitoes and ran quickly through the cemetery it was well worth it. The museum is a little tin shed but don't let that fool you or let the mosquitoes drive you away. It is very informative.

As a bonus we stopped at a sign for the Reindeer School ( Tiferes Israel School), again a chance to view the countryside that the early jewish immigrants from Romania and Russia settled and established a farming community around 1900.

Monday, September 7

Visitors from Shalom

We are fortunate to have had a number of scheduled visits for Shalom Residence in Cupar this summer. They were August 27, September 4 and September 10. Between the Shalom workers and our volunteers it has become a one on one encounter which allows for time at each exhibit and according to the needs and interests of each person.

It has become quite apparent that these are not our pioneers. Many are children of the depression, born around 1930 or before. They are curious about the early settlers but also about exhibits of the 1940's and 50's. As a result we intend to gather our 1950's artifacts into one central space through the winter. It is one thing to learn more about the history of your town and another to remember your own personal history.

Each of our visits has a basic format of looking at the general exhibits, having tea and cookies, trying to identify mystery artifacts and looking at and discussing artifacts of their own time period. On one visit we went through school texts from their childhood. When did Jerry and Jane become Dick and Jane?

At one of the visits we had 2 individual residents who serenaded us with the flute and stories of bands they played in. Each group who visit us is quite different and I find I learn things each time.

Thursday, August 6

Work In Progress

Cupar and area volunteers have spent untold hours, days, weeks and maybe even years compiling a map of the Cupar Cemetery. It remains a work in progress but is still useful at this point. A draft can be found on the Sask cemeteries website. Eventually a completed copy will be housed at the town office, as well as the Cupar museum. A copy will also hopefully be at the cemetery site.

I was searching a family member of my husband: his father's mother's father's brother's daughter.
Now that is confusing. I could say my husband's great grandfather's brother's daughter or my husband's grandmother's uncle's daughter. Did I get that right? I do better with diagrams.

Anyhow the point is I found Annetta's obit from 1914 and wondered if she was buried in Cupar.

Some of the headstones at the cemetery are deteriorating badly, and can only be seen if the light hits it just right, or if you do a rubbing with onion paper. I was fortunate to have the exact location from the map. Although difficult to read it was the correct headstone.


 So how did I really get to this point? Well, I was thinking about our finished summer display on the early days of Cupar. There are quite a few photos and items on the early business men, but what
about the pioneers' children? 

What about the ones that died in those early years? How can we remember and honour them? I have found a number of obituaries for these children and have been trying to find their headstones. This is of course an ongoing project that will take time but I have started.

Monday, July 27

Finding What You Aren't Looking For

Yesterday was a gorgeous sunny day and I really didn't feel like weeding. My husband and I decided to take a field trip to the Cupar Cemetery. I wanted to photograph the earliest headstones. Then in the winter I would try and find as many obituaries as possible to add to our obituary album at the museum. Well of course we didn't finish but we did get a good start. Today I intended to pick raspberries and weed, and maybe return to the Cemetery. It rained heavily and there was lightning and thunder, so on to Plan B. I started searching the Cupar Herald between 1908-1910 for obituaries. I found 8. 

                                                                                      Cupar Herald 10 July 1908

As I was about to crop one of the obituaries to a better size when I noticed an article in the upper corner. It was about St. Mary's Anglican Church's brass lectern. Mr. Swaisland was the manager of the Union Bank in Cupar. We also have his wife's obituary from the Cupar Herald dated 28 Feb 1908.
This lectern is at our museum but no one from the church knew it's history. Now we do. Sometimes you find information you aren't looking for and it can be a real gem.

Sunday, July 26

More Early By Laws

It is unfortunate that the minutes for the village before 1909 are non existent.  I have been told that they were water damaged.  It is fortunate that the early By-Laws were also recorded in the Cupar Herald. Here are By-Laws # 1, 3, 4.  I put up By-Law # 2 in an earlier post.


Monday, July 6

Cupar Anniversary

July 4th the morning of Cupar's 110th anniversary the sun shone brightly in the sky. Okay I'm lying.
The night before we had a lightning thunderstorm and a lot of rain. I did not sleep well as I counted the time between lightning and thunder claps. Our dog barked hysterically at each one. I was up at 6:00 a.m. making morning coffee, which was a good idea as the power went out for 3 hours and it was a drizzly kind of morning. Fire up the barbecue. The pancake breakfast, as part of the day's festivities, I imagine was well attended unless you really like cold cereal and peanut butter on bread. I had a bath and decided it wasn't worth drying my hair as I would only get soaked again.

I took my camera in a waterproof bag and headed down to where the parade floats were assembling. Thought I would get some photos before the next down pour. Surprise it only drizzled through out the parade. The cars lined the main street, all angle parked, which is illegal, but everyone was confident that no one would get a ticket because all the RCMP from Southey were apparently leading the parade.

I had several offers to sit in cars as my hair was soaking wet, right, I forgot about the bath, but I preferred running back and forth taking photos and avoiding the myriad of candies being thrown at the crowd.

Our museum opened it's doors at noon. I was excited about people coming and seeing our displays for the town's anniversary. At some point I wandered off to the sport's grounds to check out other activities. That may have been a mistake as I had to run back to the museum in the pouring rain.

The band, Blue Country, arrived for our entertainment portion of our Strawberry Social. They dumped water off the canopy and started setting up. Now I am not lying, at 2:00 p.m. as the Strawberry Social began the sun came out and it was hot. I discarded my rain coat but for some odd reason had not brought my sunglasses. We ran out of whipped cream. We ran out of plates. Judy ran for more.

Our event was a success. People loved the band and our special displays. People asked many questions. They remarked on how wonderful the museum was and how they must come more often.
We wrapped up at 5:00 p.m. 

Later people headed over to the pull pork supper at the sports grounds. In the evening the band Grimstone played. There were fireworks. Our dog barked hysterically at each one and I did not get much sleep.

Thursday, July 2

Special Student Display

The Cupar Museum is pleased to announce 2 special exhibits for this summer by Amelia and Nadia Ermel. The 11 year old twins created their displays initially as school projects. Each received a Heritage Saskatchewan Certificate of Appreciation at the Regina Regional Heritage Fair for 2015.
The displays have been given a prominent position as you enter the main room of our museum.

Amelia's display shows the businesses located on the 100 block Stanley Street in the early 1900's.
Nadia's is a general history of telephones in Canada.

We hope that in the future other students will share their work with us.

Sunday, June 28

Cupar Cyclone 1946

The cyclone that hit Cupar in 1946 was a major event and well documented in photographs, a sampling of which is given below. Unfortunately we were missing the 1946 Cupar Herald about the event

This spring Edwin Schulhauser donated his desk from Lee's Funeral Home in Cupar. In it were a number of miscellaneous papers including a folder which happily contained the missing article on the cyclone. 

Monday, June 22

CTV Hometown Tour

Today CTV Regina came to Cupar for part of their summer home town tour. The air date for our town will be July 9th. We were fortunate to have Wayne Mantyka visit our museum for a good portion of the day. He stayed for nearly 3 hours. You know you are in a small town when you can flag down a vehicle and they stop and you just get in and show them where the school and museum are.  
Wayne had a lengthy interview with our chairperson Wes Bailey, who has been with the museum since it's inception. The museum has been working on a display for our 110th anniversary of the town. The deadline to have it up was July 4 so somehow we pulled it off 10 days early.
 Now I can go  back to weeding my garden.

Tuesday, June 2

Cupar Museum 20th Anniversary

Congratulations to the museum in Cupar on it's upcoming 20th anniversary June 3. It is difficult to believe how the time has passed. In actuality it took 5 years of hard work, planning and fund raising for the museum volunteers before the official grand opening in 1995. The success of the various fund raising activities could not have happened without the support of the wider community. The Masonic Hall was moved on site and the Town Council gave the old curling rink to the museum. Besides the many hours volunteers spent salvaging materials and gathering artifacts, much appreciated financial assistance was provided by the Cupar Lions Club, The Hungarian Dance Club and The Cupar Historical Society. The museum in 1994 was also able to have a full time employee for 21 weeks through New Careers Corps to assist with final preparations.


Masonic Hall 20 years ago                                                                         Masonic Hall today

As we collect information and documentation on various organizations in our towns it is important we do not forget about the development of our own museums.

Saturday, May 23

Oral History Workshop

Somehow 3 weeks have passed since I attended an Oral History Workshop at the Gabriel Dumont Institute in Saskatoon. Does this indicate how quickly time passes, that I was absorbed in other things or I procrastinated? It is in fact a statement of the times we live in. Maybe too busy but actually I felt I needed time to think, to let it simmer, to stew about it. Then I thought will future generations even know what those phrases mean?
 It is in fact easy to go to the net and find information on topics, mechanics, release forms and procedures on conducting oral history interviews so obviously that is not why I went. I enjoy meeting people, hearing their experience with trying to conduct oral history and sharing ideas. Of course many workshops can happen online, but I guess I am old school I like to see people in person, the interaction with each other and the shared environment. (note to self – I must get back to the Gabriel Dumont Institute it was amazing and the people there wonderfully open and helpful)

 We live in a world of immediacy. We have instant access to all kinds of information too often speculation or rumour, but it doesn't seem to bother us. I worry often that something is slipping away.
Oral history has been around since humankind first began to communicate with each other, to pass on knowledge. There was a period when it appeared to be dying out. For some, especially First Nations it was the attempted destruction of their culture by others. Fortunately a concerted effort is being made to save and pass on what still exists. 

For other people it may have simply been changing times. I met a man from Cape Breton who said when he was young the old folks told stories over and over, but that has passed. We live on our computers / i phones / and tablets chained to facebook or what ever other social media you prefer.

For the people who remember these stories it's time to record them. Thanks to technology there are a number of very reasonably priced and simple to use recording devices. The Museum Association of Saskatchewan has a very compact kit that they can loan out to member museums. So don't wait for someone else, you can do it yourself while your parents or grandparents or neighbours are still alive.

Sunday, May 17

Visit your local museum

It's time to start thinking of day trips to your local museums. Following are dates and times open for the museums in the Qu'Appelle Valley Network. There are also dates given for special events.

Sunday, April 26

Barnyard Animals Run Wild

I have always been fascinated as to the rationale behind By Laws. I came across a ratepayer's meeting dated 14 April 1908 in which it was moved that no cattle, horses, pigs and poultry be allowed to run at large at any time of the year and that the Overseer be empowered to appropriate funds for the erection of a pound. First offence would be taken before the Justice of the Peace and second offence imprisonment. In the Cupar Herald 20 November of 1908 it was still a hot issue but the actual bylaw listed as By Law #2 was not passed until 18 May 1909. My imagination runs wild thinking of the terror of “the old west” and the desire to impose “ civilization”

Monday, April 20

Chinese Merchants in Cupar

According to The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan there were 41 Chinese in the province in 1901, and in 1911 there were 957. These immigrants were heavily discriminated against. The Federal Government imposed a head tax in 1885 of $50 and increased it in 1903 to $500 which was equivalent to 2 years wages. One exception were merchants. 

It is a bit of a cliche to say that many prairie towns had either a Chinese laundry or cafe owner. Very little is known about them and therefore it is difficult to appreciate the role they played and the hardship they endured having left their families behind.

In the Census for Cupar in 1916 I found a John Lee, Methodist, Laundryman who came to Canada in 1900. In the Cupar Herald of 1935 I found mention of Sam Lee doing hand laundry and Ben Lee proprietor of the Cupar Cafe.

Why did this come into my mind? Well, as we were reorganizing our displays at the museum we decided to put all our local cookbooks together in the kitchen exhibit. We found a very battered cookbook donated by Charlie Rein with a note saying “came from cafe maybe Jim Lee” 

 I found it sad, that it had been defaced and not treated as the treasure it was. It is more than a cookbook, it gives well used phrases in english and chinese for day to day use, and to this point appears to be the only artifact we have.