Special Edition: Coping with Covid-19
The coronavirus, commonly referred to as Covid-19, has essentially upended our economic and social world. With the country being in the midst of this pandemic, changes and modifications to our “normal” activities have become essential to our lives. The work of the Tantramar Heritage Trust has been modified in response to pandemic protocols. In this newsletter, we review how the Trust has been able to function in a world where we can no longer meet in groups nor travel outside our geographical “bubble.” In this issue of The White Fence, we offer accounts by directors of the Trust of the impact of Covid protocols on our operations since last March. Our president, Barb Jardine, describes the many adjustments that were required to maintain the Trust’s activities during this time and Executive Director Karen Valanne informs us how we’ve managed two museums without visitors! As you may already have deduced, our publications sales were affected by the lack of visitors to our museums, the results of which are detailed by Al Smith. Nonetheless, the lockdown also has a few bright sides: we’ve added two new titles to our publications list: Jim Snowden’s 1972 thesis, The Cumberland Basin Grindstone Industry and a new book by Al Smith on Sackville’s curling history, Sackville’s Roarin’ Game, which goes on sale next month (see Announcements). Furthermore, for a number of reasons, including the loyalty and support of our members and friends, our finances, as described by Treasurer Paul Bogaard, remain in relatively good shape and the lockdown has allowed us to complete several projects which would otherwise have been impossible for us to undertake. For details, read on…
Surviving the Coronavirus Pandemic
By Barbara Jardine, President, Tantramar Heritage Trust
Just like the rest of the world, the Tantramar Heritage Trust (THT) was taken by surprise with the sudden threat of a Coronavirus pandemic. The only comparison would be the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918-1919 a century ago. It seemed as though the whole world, including the two museums of the THT, was shut down in mid-March 2020 by Covid-19.
To me, the shutdown due to the Coronavirus was “The Great Divide” in the working life of the Trust, before and after the mid-March closures. Before, we carried out our usual activities and enjoyed visits from school groups, seniors’ groups, THT members and other visitors to our museums. We also put on our fall dinner, strawberry social and Father’s Day opening of the Campbell Carriage Factory Museum. We launched a new exhibit on the railway and had a Heritage Day presentation on this topic, partnering with the Town of Sackville. Other partnerships were with the Crake Foundation and the Sackville Rotary Club. Our activities were supported by all levels of government. We could send out printed information by mail and summer students gave regular tours of our museums to visitors.
We were catapulted into a new and alien (or at least unknown) world by the mid-March shutdown. We were unable to carry out our programs, show our exhibits, nor partner with other organizations. The THT had to learn to navigate in this brand-new and very difficult world. We had to protect our executive director and her working conditions from the virus. We had to learn and apply new cleaning protocols. Our board meetings were held via Zoom on our computers. We are grateful to THT board member David McKellor and the Sackville Rotary Club for hosting on their Zoom account. Even our Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held on Zoom, complete with a presentation by our Crake Intern on the Spanish Flu epidemic and its effects on the Sackville area. We could no longer send out printed material because the print shop was closed.
Our working life after Covid-19 is outlined on the following pages by the members of the THT Board of Directors in their particular field(s) of THT activities and responsibilities. It has been a most interesting (and terrifying) experience.
Board of Directors’ Summaries of Activities During the Pandemic
The Pandemic’s Impact on THT Operations
By Karen Valanne, Executive Director
The last several months have brought some big changes to our museums. The good news is that we’re not alone. Museums world-wide are struggling with the same issues. How do we deal with closures and, if and when open, a very reduced numbers of visitors? How do we ensure that everyone involved with our organization is safe and healthy? How do we stay in touch with our community when we can’t gather in the same place? It’s been challenging, but not impossible, to keep operating. From the perspective of the administrative office, here are some of the ways we’ve compromised and continued.
We were ordered to shut down on March 13. In early May, we were told we could open to the public, but in order to do so, we had to develop a written operational plan. There was lots of guidance on this from the provincial Heritage Branch and a special document was produced in collaboration with the NB Museum about how to care for our collections. After all, you can’t use Clorox wipes on artifacts! We had several meetings in May and June to write our plan, design forms for daily operations, and create self-guided brochures for tours. The Boultenhouse Heritage Centre opened on June 16 and the Campbell Carriage Factory Museum opened on July 1. Visitor numbers were very low, but everyone has been very cooperative and kind about following our rules. Our plan is a living document and has been changing whenever necessary. For example, when the mask mandate was put in place in October, we incorporated that into our plan. Like everyone, we’re taking it a day at a time.
Normally our summer staff consists of 7 or 8 people, plus me. Everyone is assigned a work area (Research Centre, Collections, etc.) or a special project (such as planning a new exhibit or doing research for an upcoming book), plus they give tours, plan and carry out events, and perform a multitude of other tasks. This summer was quite different. We had no idea how many visitors we’d get (turns out – not many!) and knew early on that we couldn’t hold many events and those we did hold would have to be quite different from usual. As a result, we decided to only hire four staff members. These were our Crake Community Programming Intern (Brooklyn Beatty), a Collec-tions Assistant (Samuel Smedley), an Archives Assistant (Rebecca Estabrooks), and a Research Centre Assistant (Erich Zerb). Everyone was based here at the Boultenhouse Heritage Centre, with strictly assigned work areas. Museum hours were reduced so that we were able to take turns going to the Carriage Factory Museum to keep it open Wednesday through Sunday afternoons.
Although it was a strange summer (virtually no visitors and very few events), it was productive. Our staff was able to work through a backlog of items in Collections, Archives, and the Research Centre. This consisted of accessioning and photographing items and entering them into databases to make them available to the public. Our Crake Intern was able to compile lists of workshops and events from past years and plan events for the future. Our summer staff was extremely hard-working and dedicated and I truly enjoyed working with them.
The federal government has made some changes to employment programs so that some of our grants could be transferred to the fall and winter months and to allow for the students to work part time. For example, this extended one of our eight-week Canada Summer Jobs grant to a 16-week part time position. As a result, we’ll have three students working here part time over the next few months. I’m thrilled to have the company and to be able to move forward with some exciting projects.
In the past few months, we’ve held only three in-person events: the Berry Social on August 1, the Murder Mystery Night on August 13 and the Atlantic Antique Tool Collectors Show on October 1. All three went well and, although attendance certainly wasn’t what it would have been in usual times, we were pleased. I remember at the Berry Social in particular how happy people were to see each other. It was the first time some friends had seen each other in months! We tried to keep in touch with our community in other ways: through our Facebook page, email, videos, and our website. Our next big project is our online fundraising auction, which is replacing our annual Taste of History Fundraising Dinner this year. (See Susan Amos’ note in this issue for more information.)
The Bright Side
Despite the challenges, we’ve been able to keep operating. We’ve had an increase in email inquiries of all sorts and many requests for our publications through the mail as well as several requests for information on local houses and businesses. And lots and lots of genealogical inquiries which David McKellar is gracious enough to answer. We continue to have great support from our community and look forward to the day we can celebrate our tremendous heritage in person once again. In the meantime, stay healthy and keep in touch.
Pandemic Hits the Trust’s Finances
By Paul Bogaard, Treasurer
When Covid-19 forced us all into lockdown, the prognosis for the Trust’s finances looked pretty bleak. Indeed, the initial hit on our revenues was serious, but there have also been a number of unexpected positive developments.
For one thing, seven months ago (seems like seven years!), we had no idea how long this pandemic would last nor just how it would tamp down our usual activities. It is still not over (by a long ways) but we can now gauge how we have weathered this summer season.
Since we have big expenses early in our fiscal year (beginning April) like insurance, the cost of accountants and the beginning of summer wages – with little prospect of usual revenues (admissions, fund-raising events, sales of publications) – we nervously put together a fund-raising plea. This included a couple small projects we hoped to take on, regardless, but it was primarily reaching out for donations to help us through these extraordinary times. To our delight, this brought in extraordinary returns.
At an unusual time of year, from friends both near and far, folks recognized the need and we very nearly met our target within the first two months.
The next surprise was that the programs which usually subsidize our hiring of summer students, instead of disappearing with the closure of museums, were maintained and government sources actually allowed more flexibility. This has stretched on into the fall and winter, and typically at little expense to THT. These students have been a great asset to us.
Then came the federal relief programs. While the province managed to maintain their usual support to us, the federal government unrolled several programs available to small and not-for-profit organizations like ours. One program reduced the remittances on wages; not by much, but it helped. One was a loan program that will only require us to pay back 75% of the loan. Another was an outright grant to heritage organizations. We could not have anticipated that these kinds of programs would be so generous, nor that they would reach down to small organizations like ours. There may even be further opportunities… and we will be watching out for them, especially now that “returning to normal” looks like it may be a long way off.
On balance, with help from our friends and support from the government, we have managed to avoid the financial disaster that seemed to be threatening only a few months ago. But the shadow of this pandemic still stretches out ahead, and we will continue to depend upon your on-going support through the coming months. Our heart-felt thanks to all.
Collections and Archives – Kathy Bouska
Because cataloguing artifacts and archival processing requires significant time, having only a few visitors allowed us to accomplish a substantial amount of work. This started with us revising and updating our procedures for cataloguing our artifacts and for how we accession and process in our archives, something we are continuing to work on. To do this, Karen Valanne and I have been taking advantage of the many opportunities being offered for professional development, which under the current circumstances have all been done as workshops over Zoom. We are especially excited about the upcoming Digital Preservation and Developing an Emergency Response Plan workshops being offered by the Canadian Conservation Institute.
This summer we had two exceptional students working in our Collections, one who handled the artifacts and the other who worked in our Archives. Our Collections Assistant, Sam Smedley, did a brilliant job of cataloguing a large number of artifacts that had been donated including from the participants in the Railway Employees Oral History Project. Sam quickly researched, described, and entered all of these artifacts into our Collective Access database, and then did the same for a sizeable number of artifacts from the Campbell Carriage Factory Museum that had not yet been catalogued. For this latter project he worked closely with Paul Bogaard.
Our Archives Assistant, Rebecca Estabrooks, enthusiastically worked with us to acquire initial intellectual and physical control over all of our archival fonds (which means a body of records that come from a single creator such as an individual, one or more families, or an administrative body). Following this, she arranged and described multiple fonds to make them accessible to the public, including some gems relating to the foundries and to George Rogers (the longest serving employee at the Campbell Carriage Factory) and his family. Thanks to Young Canada Works funding positions for the school year, this Collections and Archives work will continue!
Meanwhile, we have begun our Foundry Employees Oral History Project! Susan Amos and I conducted our first interview with Marion Carter and she was delightful and a wealth of information. Marion worked in the Administrative offices at the Enterprise Foundry from 1945 to 1983. Because she worked in Payroll and Personnel, rising to be in charge of each, she interacted with all the employees every week so she remembered many of them. Another reason she was a perfect person to interview first is she also gave us a good overview of the foundry as a whole. It was fascinating hearing how they used to do Payroll manually using one adding machine between three of them and paying everyone in cash. Besides some great stories, Marion donated two fabulous photographs to us of the Administrative staff (which consisted of all women and one man) in 1946 in front of the Foundry and in 1950 in the garden at Mrs. Fisher’s house in Frosty Hollow. We look forward to all the interviews ahead and if you know of other employees, please contact us!
Finally, when we had the WWII Corvette HMCS Sackville exhibit at the Boultenhouse Heritage Centre in 2010 to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Town of Sackville loaned us artifacts, framed documents and photographs. This collection had been gifted to the town by the Naval Authority in Halifax and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic to be used in an exhibit. After this popular exhibit ended, the town asked us to keep it on loan. Because of the importance of having ownership over collections when they are not part of a temporary exhibit due to storage space and for provincial and federal funding, we recently asked the town if they could gift it to us. After discussions and sending a follow-up letter, the town council passed the motion for the gift agreements on the 14th of September! This exciting news prompted CHMA news reporter, Erica Butler, to do a lengthy interview with Paul Bogaard, Karen Valanne, and myself about the THT and this donation. We are very grateful to the Town of Sackville for this magnificent collection and for their continued financial support!
The Research Centre – David McKellar
Like at the museum(s), there has been a drop off in visitors since March 2020 and this has given us an opportunity to catch up on filing family history and genealogy information. We have been able to extend our summer student Erich Zerb due to pandemic-related funding. We created a publicly-available family tree of many descendants of early Tantramar families that now includes over 55,000 people.
This family tree was donated by Kenneth ‘Ken’ Tower in 2019 which reflects a significant amount of research by both Ken and his father over many years – we welcome any corrections and additions to this research family tree. We are working on other projects to make the Resource Centre information more available through Internet access which will allow researchers to remotely-access critical family history and genealogy information.
Boultenhouse Heritage Centre – Bill Snowdon
The Covid restrictions had limited effect on the jobs I performed at Boultenhouse or occasionally at the Carriage Factory. The restrictions did limit our activities for Spring Clean-up, but after that it was mainly routine maintenance of lawns, etc. Any jobs I performed in the apartment were one-man operations.
I took a couple of days to build a metal stand for the outside mural at Boultenhouse, but I did that at home.
Having the board meetings via Zoom may not be the most socially amiable way, but it got the job done.
Landscaping – Gerald Baycroft
Boultenhouse Heritage Centre About a year ago it was decided that we needed to improve the walkways to both Boultenhouse and Anderson Houses. It was decided to locate the walkway from the parking lot to go directly to the front door of the museum. It would involve removing the stone steps at the back and creating a wide entrance in front of the flag pole to enable display of the existing monument as well as the new bench, a ship’s anchor and the new painting of the “new” wharf by Peter Manchester. It also included a handrail for assistance up the slope. The area in front of Anderson House and between the buildings was also to be improved.
The final plan was carried out this summer and everyone seems pleased with the result. Many thanks to Paul Bogaard and Bill Snowdon for removing the stone steps and border.
Much of the growth between the parking lot and the museum has been trimmed back and more is required. Plans are under way to repair the front steps and widen the entrance walk at the front of Boultenhouse. The roses, urns, and large flower pot have all been tended.
Campbell Carriage Factory The rose beds and grass have been tended over the summer. Rotting wooden borders were removed and beds and trees have been mulched.
Tantramar Hay Barn The barn was repaired, hay removed by a local farmer and Bill Snowdon bush-cut the area around the barn.
Communications, Education and Outreach – Susan Amos
Because of COVID-19, our Annual General Meeting was held by Zoom rather than in person. In order to make the THT annual report more accessible, I prepared a summary of THT’s key achievements in 2019-20. Sunday, June 21, marked Canada’s National Indigenous Peoples Day which also happened to be Father’s Day. The THT collaborated with the Town of Sackville to promote a safe celebration of these events by encouraging people to check out the walking trail system at the Fort Folly Reserve (http://ffhr.ca/cause/medicinewalking- trail/).
COVID-19 means we are not able to offer our annual fundraising dinner. Instead, stay tuned for our online auction starting November 8 and featuring many one-of-a-kind items and experiences (see page 8). Looking to the future, we’re starting into an exciting project to commemorate Sackville’s two foundries which formed the foundation of our industrial base for so many years. We have already collected our first oral history account from Marion Carter who worked at the Enterprise Foundry from 1945 until 1983. We’ll be interviewing others who worked at the foundries and plan to stage a play about this vital part of our Town’s history.
Trust Publications – Al Smith
The sale of Tantramar Heritage Trust publications is normally a significant revenue stream, annually amounting to $5,000 plus. However, in this Covid-19 year we will be lucky to see that revenue source surpass $1,500. Two of our usual consignment outlets: Keillor House Museum and Cape Jourimain Nature Centre did not have retail sales this year and The Craft Gallery in Sackville will only operate for four months.
Visitation of the Trust’s two museums has been dismal this season and subsequently sales of publications have only amounted to 11 books over the past six months. Even mail and internet sales are down (only 7 copies sold) compared to past years. The two main bookstores which sell our publications under consignment (Tidewater Books in Sackville and Cover to Cover Books in Riverview), have reported much lower sales than normal.
On the brighter side, the Trust’s Publications Committee will publish two new titles this fiscal year. Trust publication # 35 will be Sackville’s Roarin’ Game – A 125 Year History of the Sackville [NB] Curling Club researched and written by Al Smith. See the detailed announcement on page 8 to find out how to get a signed copy. The book will also be available for purchase at the the Trust Office and at Tidewater Books in Sackville in early November.
Trust Publication #36 will be The Cumberland Basin Grindstone Industry by James Dean Snowdon, his 1972 honours thesis, Mount Allison University. Publications Committee member Paul Bogaard has agreed to take on this project and we have secured permission to publish the document and to augment the text with photos and maps and interviews from Paul’s collections. A tentative launch time is in the first half of 2021.
Tantramar Heritage Trust Launches a New Publication
The Trust is pleased to announce a new publication entitled Sackville’s Roarin’ Game – A 125 Year History of the Sackville Curling Club. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, a formal book launch will not be possible but a Drive-by Book Sale will happen on Sunday afternoon, November 1, 2020 between 2-4 pm using the circular driveway in front of the Boultenhouse Heritage Centre. Simply enter the driveway from the end closest to Main Street (the west end) and stop at the front door. A sales area will be set up at the entry way to the Heritage Centre. Cost of the book is $15.00.
Established in November 1895, the Sackville Curling Club played its first games on a skating rink. A proper curling rink was built in 1896, the first of three that have housed the club during its 125-year history.
Initially, members of the club were all male, a cross section of business and academic elite of the community. Apart from a brief inroad by women in 1909 and 1910, it remained an “old boys club” for a long time. With the opening of the third (and current) curling rink in 1949, women curlers formed their own organization, but were not fully integrated into the administration of the club until amalgamation in 1979.
Considered to be a primarily recreational curling club, the Sackville Curling Club has nonetheless produced over 40 championship teams, including national champions. To date, four inductees into the Sackville Sports Wall of Fame are curlers.
The 125-page book traces the full 125-year history of the Sackville Curling Club from the organizational years to the present day. The Sackville Curling Club was the 10th curling club to be established in New Brunswick. The Tantramar Heritage Trust is very pleased to present this history of the Sackville Curling Club as its 35th publication.
Join in the Fun
Check out the Trust’s Online Auction
Support the Trust’s online fundraising auction November 8-14! Lots of items for every taste, and remember your Christmas list! A small sampling…
Are you looking for a tasty treat? Chocolate chip cookies and chocolate cheese cake are just two of many delectable food options.
How about an adventure? Take a day trip on Sue Ash’s sailboat, ‘O’ Happy Day.
House and Home: Iconic local scene, Yellow Barn, a watercolour painting by Shirley Barnes. Stunning display cabinet with mirrored floor and working clock. Mystery novels for the winter.
Does your photo collection nag at you? Learn how to make a striking photo journal to highlight your top travel pictures or memorialize family favourites.
Blacksmithing experience: Choose a customized garden tool or hair fastener. Trust board member, Paul Bogaard, will forge it for you at the Campbell Carriage Factory Museum black smithery while you watch him do it!
Get Ready… Get Set…
1.Mark your calendar: 8 am, Sun day, November 8, to 9 pm, Saturday, November 14.
2.Go to https://www.32auctions.com/tantramarheritage. Check out all the fabulous and unique items waiting for your bids. Keep checking the auction regularly as new items will be added right up until start time.
3.Create an account so you will be ready for the bidding.
4.Spread the word to family, friends and neighbours.
5.Contact Karen Valanne for questions or assistance: (506) 536–2541, email@example.com.