Monday, December 30, 2013

Celebrations and Masks!

Ceremonial life of the West Coast Nations is vibrantly on exhibit at the Peace River Museum! Thanks to a generous loan of artifacts from Dr. David Welch, the Museum is featuring, amongst West Coast and Plains First Nations objects, a colourful collection of West Coast masks.

Northwest Coast First Nations artists are renowned for their carvings, especially of totem poles. Totem poles are carved for many reasons. They can represent clans or families or serve mortuary, memorial, shaming or welcoming purposes. Similarly, dances performed with masks can serve specific purposes and have different meanings.

In wintertime, Coastal First Nations villages were visited by supernatural beings or spirits. This was the time of year when villagers would feast, dance, sing and for some, be initiated into secret societies. Dances performed with masks during these times were representative of the supernatural entities that were visiting the village from their caves, forests, waters and skies.

Animal and human figures appear on both carved totems and masks. Many animals, supernatural beings and spirits are carved with human features; similarly, humans are sometimes carved with non-human features. This blending of animal, spiritual and human characteristics is known as anthropomorphism. Features on anthropomorphized carvings can be enlarged, shrunk or distorted in order to fit the distinct shape of the material being carved.

The Portrait Mask is carved to represent a personal experience and here is painted in the principal colours red and black. The Bumble Bee Mask is black, red and yellow. Colours traditionally used on masks were primarily blue, green, black and red from natural pigments. Black was created using lignite, charcoal and graphite. Red came from pulverized ochre or hematite and the blues and green were derived from copper minerals.

The Sense of the Land And Its People : A Private Collection is on exhibit until September 2014.
Bumble bee mask 
Portrait mask 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Winter Solstice Celebration cancelled

The Peace River Museum and the underground Music Society have made a tough call and cancelled tomorrow's solstice event at Riverfront Park. We had planned to have food, musical entertainment and a bonfire to celebrate the Winter Solstice and the transfer of 16 year's worth of posters and photographs from the underground Music Society to the Peace River Museum and Archives.

As it is predicted to be quite cold tomorrow (and then you add in the windchill), we feel it is best to cancel part of the festivities.

However, the organizers will still be there from 3:30 - 4:30pm with a bonfire. So, you're missing the musical entertainment and the food, but please do come out and join us to watch the sunset and experience the solstice.

The Museum would like to extend a sincere thank you, not only to the underground Music Society for this donation, but also to all of our donors from 2013, both for objects and their time.

Our Museum works as well as it does because we have so many supportive people around us: our partners, our donors and our supporters.

Have a great end of 2013 and a fantastic beginning to 2014 from all of the staff at the Peace River Museum.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Artifact of the Week - St. Augustine Mission nativity scene

This week's featured artifact is a crèche (also known as a nativity scene) that originates from the St. Augustine Roman Catholic Mission. It was used yearly at the Mission as one of their Christmas decorations. 

A nativity scene is the depiction of the birth of Jesus as described in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Nativity scenes are created worldwide at Christmas and are shown in such places as churches, schools, museums and shopping malls. This tradition dates back to 1223 when St. Francis of Assisi allegedly created the first nativity scene in a cave near Greccio, Italy. He created a live depiction of the Biblical story using humans and animals. 

St. Francis' scene was so popular that his idea was copied by many throughout the Catholic world. In fact, a mere 100 years later, all churches in Italy were expected to display a nativity scene at Christmas. By this time, statues and figurines had replaced live humans and animals and the scenes were far more intricate. 

By the 1800s, the tradition of depicting the birth of Jesus had spread past the Catholic world and was gaining popularity in the wider Christian community. The scenes were beginning to be marketed in various forms for public sale, and were made of wood, terracotta, paper, wax and ivory. 

In celebration of the Christmas season, the Museum has created a Christmas exhibit. We've put the nativity scene on display along with a decorated tree and a roaring fireplace complete with stockings and toys. 

Come by and visit us over the holidays. We are open until December 24th, and reopen again on December 27th. We will be closed on January 1st, 2014.  
Several figures from PRMA 77.822. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Book reading and signing with Dianne Ireland

Dianne Ireland’s recently published book “Grandmama’s Treasured Favorites & Traditional Recipes” is filled with interesting stories and tasty recipes. These recipes may be those that Dianne’s family has made for years, but all of her readers will find a recipe or a story that evokes a memory for them of their own family traditions. Perhaps it’s the Christmas Eggnog, maybe the beef stew, or even Dianne’s story of hunting for the first and only time.

Dianne was born in Peace River and grew up on a farm east of Grimshaw, Alberta. Dianne married Jim in 1968 and together they have had a great life with their children and now their grandchildren.
Writing and publishing this book has given Dianne an opportunity to share many stories as well as favorite and traditional recipes with not only her family and friends, but also anyone else who enjoys cooking or baking for their loved ones.
Join us this Saturday, December 14th, 2013, from 2 – 4 pm at the Peace River Museum, where Dianne will regale us with stories and recipes. Dianne's book is available in the Museum gift shop for $39.95. The gift shop accepts cash or cheque only. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Are you ready to burn away the winter blues?

On December 21st, 2013 we will celebrate the winter solstice. Scientifically speaking, this is the day when the sun appears at its lowest point in the sky. It is also the shortest day and longest night of the year. For all those who prefer summer, this doesn't sound good, but hey, starting on December 22nd, the days will begin to get longer and the nights shorter. I'd say that's worth celebrating, even if we are still quite a ways away from summer.

The Peace River Museum and Archives and the underground Music Society thought to team up, not only to celebrate the winter solstice, but also to celebrate a significant donation of event posters from the Society to the Museum and Archives. These posters chronicle 16 years worth of events hosted by the underground Music Society.

If you come by Riverfront Park on Saturday, December 21st from 4 to 7 pm, you will find the Museum and the Society gathered together with hot dogs and delicious hot apple cider as well as a roaring bonfire. We invite you all to experience the solstice day with us. In addition, we'd like to ask you to help us celebrate by getting involved. We are looking for storytellers, musicians, poetry readers and for tales of how the solstice is celebrated around the world.

Please come by the museum or call us to sign up on the list of buskers for the evening's festivities. We invite everyone to sign up for a ten (10) minute slot.

The Museum can be found at 10302 99 Street in Peace River, or we can be reached at 780-624-4261 or
PRMA 2013.020 This is one of the event posters donated by the underground Music Society.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Artifact of the Week - Toy hobby horse

It’s December! For those that celebrate Christmas, this means stockings, baking, twinkling lights, a decorated tree, and presents! In honour of the Christmas season, the Museum has once again put together a Christmas display. This year, we’ve gone bigger and better. When you come and visit the display you will find a fireplace with stockings, wrapped packages, old time candy, toys, Christmas cards, a decorated tree with multi-coloured lights and a nativity scene.

One Christmassy aspect that we’ve examined in this display is gift giving and the types of gifts people gave and received across the 20th century. So, this week, our featured artifact is a toy hobby horse that was donated to the museum by Jocelyne Forget. This hobby horse is from the 1950s. Nowadays, children might have toy cars they can ride around in, just like their parents. In earlier days, before there were cars, children would have hobby horses to imitate their parent’s modes of transportation.

The term “hobby” goes back to the Middle Ages and refers to a small pony-like horse. Cart horses were primarily called hobby horses. As toys, hobby horses were also known as stick horses or cock horses. The term “cock horse” relates back to the nursery rhyme “Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross.”

Come by and visit the Museum to see this hobby horse as well as the larger Christmas display.