This summer, a wonderful opportunity presented itself to me: I had the honour to work as an Audio/Visual Technician at R.J. Haney Heritage Village and Museum Archives with Curator Deborah Chapman.

Throughout this summer I have greatly valued being a member of this organization that engages with communities both past and present. And I have gained a plethora of knowledge about Salmon Arm’s rich history. For instance, I had the privilege of cataloging seven collections of watercolour paintings from Arthur Adair Brooke which depicted the life of his daughter, Ruth Adair Brooke, from infancy to late adolescence.

Arthur was born in Rome, Italy in 1874, and learned his artistic skills from his father. The artwork of these two gentlemen is preserved in our archival room and in the digitalized database. From Arthur’s father we have a charcoal drawing depicting the Greek God Apollo, and from Arthur himself we have paintings portraying his childhood home and various picturesque views of Europe.

The collection of watercolour paintings showcases his poignant relationship with his youngest child: Ruth. In Ruth’s childhood she was simply worshipped by her much older brothers, and beloved by her mother and father. However, after her post-secondary education, she met, fell in love, and married a divorced American baseball player. Her family was so disgraced by her decision, they disowned her. They were not only estranged but separated geographically as she lived in America, and her family in Salmon Arm. However, before her father’s death, they reconciled, and he gave her the seven books of watercolour paintings conveying the story of her life to adolescence. After her death, her next of kin discovered the watercolour collections tucked in a beautiful box underneath her bed. Her relatives, understanding the historical significance and the beautiful story the paintings represented, gave all the watercolours to R.J. Haney Heritage Village and Museum.

Whether Arthur Adair Brooke’s paintings depict the architectural magnificence of Italy or Switzerland, the subtle sublimeness of Canada’s geological landscape, or perfectly encapsulate his newborn daughter’s sweetness, his talent will be remembered and venerated for it tells us about the small yet paramount moments that summarize a life well-lived.

I also had the honour to start the foundational work of participating in the Truths and Reconciliation: Calls to Action for museums; beginning the process of creating an exhibit preserving Dr. Mary Thomas’s accomplishments and creating a legacy to unite and promote understanding between Canada’s diverse cultures.

I have been proud to connect and contact people profoundly and meaningfully impacted by her gentle spirit, generosity, intelligence, and wisdom gained through life experience.

In addition to gaining profound insight into the lives of people in the past. Deborah, the rest of the staff, and I have worked tirelessly to get two new exhibits up and running. Firstly, the Observer exhibit which is a replica of the Salmon Arm Observer during 1911-1914, and also the Barber Shop/Pool Hall during the year of 1913.

This position was wonderful because of the diversity of skills I needed to employ. Using research, reading, analyzing, and writing skills, I also had to use practical skills such as cleaning, heavy-lifting, organizing, and planning.

After working here for the summer I have so much respect for Deborah Chapman. She is an inspiration to me as the storyteller of our community, preserving and sharing artefacts and anecdotes of the past with intelligence, wit, and creativity. She makes learning about history not only informative but accessible and entertaining for the public!