I already knew where the museum was in Camrose. My first semester at Augustana, when I was driving to school every day and would spend most of the day in Camrose, I wandered the parks. I wandered along the streets. The aimless wandering, walking, is how I got to know the streets of West Lethbridge …
Continue reading “Bare Bones and Beginnings”
I already knew where the museum was in Camrose. My first semester at Augustana, when I was driving to school every day and would spend most of the day in Camrose, I wandered the parks. I wandered along the streets. The aimless wandering, walking, is how I got to know the streets of West Lethbridge so well. How I have begun to familiarize myself with Stettler. And there is this little hidden path in Camrose. Behind the park across from the school, between the houses. It at first appears like a little square greenspace. But following the paved path leads into a gully surrounded by trees, the path crumbling away to a dirt trail. The sounds of the vehicles and neighbourhood melt away, revealing the sound of branches and leaves in the breeze. If you really look, the homes bordering the gully and fences are visible, but the height difference sinks you into a hidden natural area. Whether the gully was too low to fill in, whether it was carved out after the neighbourhood arose, or how it came to be remains a mystery. My walks away from campus will unconsciously take me multiple times through this gully, as if I am magnetically drawn to the bubble of silence within it, the disappearance of human noise. The far side of the gully steeply emerges onto a fairly main road, and both the recreation and community centres, along with the museum, rest on a large open space mostly populated with grass and parking lots. It is always strange to emerge into concrete and sky after the short walk in the gully.
At the museum on Friday, January 19th, I met Dariya for the first time. She already knew who I was. Not just from the long-winded, overly polite email which outlined my project ideas and a couple queries, no. Last spring, we had both been in one of Petr’s classes, one on Russia. In a tiny classroom in the Faith and Life building, with nothing but daylight and the odd breeze to keep us awake after lunch we would sit and listen to the tragedies of a country so far away, from a voice who spoke often from personal experience. I always sat in the same chair. I barely knew one classmate to my right who would follow me out to Creative Writing directly following Russia, and we would chat on occasion. When he attended, I knew the classmate to my left, who often worked the same shift in the cafeteria with me the semester before. Dariya apparently sat behind me. I had never looked back. I asked if she recognized the messy bun and old sweatshirts and she laughed, because I showed up to the museum wearing exactly that.
We discussed a few places in Camrose which could work for the project, and she took me back into a tall entryway bordered with bookcases and caged by boxes. A push-bar set of double doors presumably led back to the glaring white sunlight outside. The little library, categorized roughly by subject, held an uncatalogued collection of local volumes. The open door beyond led to where other artifacts and documents were stored. She gestured to it once, saying we might be able to find photographs of the location once we were able to narrow down our chosen place. Without looking, my time in that little library was spent glancing towards that secret but open room containing histories and stories beyond my imagination.
So I emailed Curtis earlier today. A few options are:
-The Normal School (now Rosehaven) and how this changed over the years. I have found in my preliminary search at the Museum some information on this, about the construction of the building, uses, its change to a seniors home. We could look further into landscaping and architecture, but to me I don’t see it so much as a natural landscape, though the history of the land it is on is a possibility.
-Mirror Slough (now Mirror Lake). This one would be very interesting, considering the changes this ‘natural’ area has undergone. I was not able to find too much information on this place, however, at the museum, though they likely have images over the years of the transformation. We could also contact Parks and possibly the City who may have archives on projects related to this park and its upkeep and development over the years. We could likely also speak with park planners who could give insight into future plans for the park (considering the road construction) and possibly past intentions and how those turned out. We are absolutely allowed to pursue oral histories for this course.
-Rotary Four Seasons Park. I have found history of the ski jump and a bit on the train trestle through this park, and I believe the Rotary Club would likely keep its own archives and have more information. Oral histories are also a possibility here.
-Augustana Campus over the years. Lots of information on this one, though it is not one of my favourites. I think there is an appeal in doing something beyond our campus, but this is always an option because of the plethora of resources.
-Railroads in Camrose. Railroads as environmental challenges? As I stated above, I found a bit of info on the train trestle, and in the books I searched there was info about railroad development and importance in Camrose. Railroad companies would likely also have their own archives which we could inquire into. I know from experience a bit about railroad interaction with environment, and it would be interesting to look into the impacts on the local environment, and how environments change around railroad tracks.
Of course, the ones I am excited about are the parks and railroads. The first two because of their natural element… the third just because I am a railroad nut.
I cannot narrow the list down to just two until I have a chance to speak with Curtis in person and hear his ideas. I hope that will be alright. But I greatly look forward to this project. And I do want to weave in oral histories into the project if we come across individuals with knowledge who are willing to open up and share. I think it would add unique video/audio elements to the website, as well as give a more personal layer to historical accounts of a place.
I realize I am most comfortable with words. When dealing with digital platforms, such as this blog, images look gorgeous, but I struggle with finding the perfect ones to express what I think. This will be an element of the course I strive to grow in: looking for the opportunities to take the perfect pictures in my environments, and then learning to become more comfortable with artistically weaving them into the digital projects.