That moment when she finds a buried fact that solves a historical mystery is magical for Tina Lyon, the new curator of the Paris Museum and Historical Society. Her eyes light up. Her face reflects her excitement.
“I love history,” she says. “If we don’t keep our history, we’ll lose all the lessons we’ve learned. The stories of the people behind the artifacts are as important as the items themselves. This is the only way we will know who these people were.”
Officially, Tina stepped into her new role on Dec. 8, 2019. Unofficially she’d been preparing for some time; watching her predecessor Bob Hasler as he catalogued and methodically stored artifacts, trying to absorb all the history he has accumulated about Paris in his 30 years with PMHS and heeding his encouragement to take on her own projects.
Tina knew Bob and his wife Pat from church. Thanks partly to their influence, she became a regular visitor to the museum, then a member, then a fully-engaged volunteer. She began her work at the museum doing data entry and other archival jobs. “It was (the late) Doug Hazlewood who trained me to catalogue,” Tina recalled.
After moving every few years for most of her life, Tina finally feels rooted. She grew up in a military family, relocating as her father’s assignments changed. By the end of elementary school, she’d lived all over Europe and Canada. The family settled in Paris, Ontario when her father retired and she entered Grade 10. But Tina was soon on the move again. After marrying she and her husband moved to the USA. The couple lived in a succession of cities and towns in the U.S. Midwest and along the Pacific Coast.
That chapter of her life ended abruptly when her husband died, leaving her with a six-year-old daughter and six-month-old son. She remained in the Los Angeles area for a year, trying to sort out her life as a single mother. Tina decided she wanted to raise her kids in small-town Canada, so at the turn of the millennium she moved back to what she considers her hometown buying the home in Paris where her kids would grow up. While raising her children, she volunteered for a variety of jobs at Paris Performers’ Theatre and North Ward School, picking up experience in marketing, troubleshooting and record-keeping.
Tina begins the New Year with high hopes and a ready project. In late December, she submitted a proposal on behalf of the Paris Museum and Historical Society to a province-wide competition to display Paris Museum artifacts at Queen’s Park, Toronto. To her surprise, PMHS won. The design committee – which consists of Tina, Chris Galloway, Marie Williamson, Sarah Faucher and Patti Gladding – is already organizing the transfer of an exhibit to the provincial legislature where it will be showcased from April until October.
Tina has two overarching priorities for the coming year. The first is to ensure that Bob Hasler can step back from his long-time role as guardian of the museum’s archives with respect and dignity to pursue his own research within PMHS. The second is to revamp the museum’s collections policy so more PMHS researchers and volunteers can get involved.
Tina’s New Year’s resolution is simple but challenging: Learn to delegate. She knows she has a tendency to do everything herself. She realizes a good curator promotes teamwork.
by Carol Goar