A Passion for Discovery

Tina at work

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

Reflections

In 1992 I joined the Paris Museum & Historical Society. I quickly became a board member assisting the curator Fred Bemrose.

In the 1990’s we negotiated with the Paris Library to take over their archives, located on the second floor of the library. Many people joined us then – people like Roger Sharpe, who volunteered many hours.

By 1998, Fred had retired and I was appointed curator in his place.

In October of 1998 we were asked by the Public Utilities Commission to re-locate as they needed their space in the basement where we were storing our collections.

At the beginning of November we moved into a rental warehouse space on Woodslee Ave. Moving day began as a clear day, but just after the last box was in the new warehouse, it started to snow and didn’t stop for at least another day. Three months later we were very glad that we had moved when the basement space we had been in with the Public Utilities Commission flooded to the ceiling! Our collections would have been lost!

Through 1999 on most Saturdays, Norma Maus and I, with a few others sporadically helping, started cataloging the vast number of artifacts in our collection. Cataloging then was primitive compared to what we do today.

Over the next several years not only did I do the curator’s job, but I also held positions on the Board. I was President three times, Secretary twice and various other positions.

At some point it was time to hire a curator as a full time position. It was then that Lana Jobe became our new curator.

Finances have always been a concern. As money from the bequest from the Cox family was running out, rental costs became a concern. It was decided to move to a county-owned facility to reduce our costs. Interest income did not match our expenses and we were growing in leaps and bounds.

Even after moving to the county-owned Syl Apps Arena, money became a serious issue. We could no longer support Lana’s salary and so Lana left the museum soon after. It was a difficult time for the museum, but we pulled together.

Mary Gladwin took over the helm and with her husband, Bob Groucock, they started getting The Paris Museum back on track. An appeal went out for volunteers, and many of us came back to pitch in once again. I became the Curator again with Bob Groucock’s support. One day after I was talking with him, he went home, went to bed and never woke up. That put a huge hole in our operations. It took quite a while for us to get back on our feet, but we did.

Since that time we have made great strides forward with our museum and archives. Through this time, I am proud to have been able to take the lead at our museum and archives collections. Since I first started as curator in 1998, I have made it my mission to make the archives “User Friendly”.

Approximately two years ago, I came to the realization that I needed to start looking for a replacement curator. With the Board’s help, a search was carried out. About eight months ago that person was found. I started training and nurturing them, telling them the stories I had learned, the history behind the collections and much more.

I was going to hand over the Curator’s position at the AGM, but recently I found this person was not going to be attending the AGM as they would be travelling.

So the day of the Volunteer Appreciation event seemed like a better day to pass the torch to Tina Lyon while surrounded by our volunteers. I have worked with and shared so many stories with them as a team of friends to enhance PMHS.

The “Assessment Register” book is a symbol of the Curator’s duties. It is the starting point where the curator assigns a donation its number, records the donor’s name and writes an overview of what has been donated. It is a fitting symbol to pass on.

I have had the pleasure of watching your new curator blossom over these last few months. She is thorough, inquisitive, investigative, has a good memory, is gifted with many talents and is easy to work with.

And so it gives me great pleasure to hand over this book as the symbol of the title, “Curator”, to Tina Lyon to carry on the work as our new curator for PMHS from this time forward.

Thank you all for your patience and dedication while working/volunteering with me.

Bob Hasler

Ken Sinclair

Ken was born in Paris and grew up on Spruce Street, corner of Franklin and Spruce. He and his dad had a plumbing and electrical company run out of their home. Later he worked for the PUC as an electrician. One of his first jobs was to read hydro meters and by doing so got to meet many of the town’s people and got to know their stories.

He joined PMHS in February of 1973 and was the mover and shaker of the organization, helping Fred Bemrose setup displays, like the military display each year at the Legion and the museum display in the council chambers, and move the heavy stuff around to various storage places etc. over the years. He told many stories about Paris to both Pat and I and others like Marie and Marg. He also was a conduit for many donations to the PMHS as he knew so many people. When these people were ready to donate an artifact etc. they would phone him and he would get it and bring it in along with the story about the item. He was still active in the society well into his 80’s.

I worked with him at Paris Fair time when we inspected and replaced lighting at the fair grounds in preparation for the Paris Fair and during the fair.

Ken was a life member of the PMHS. He became this during one of my tenures as president. For the last year he was living in longterm care at Telfer Place. I would see him on Sunday afternoons when Pat and I would visit a relative. I would say “How’s it going Ken?” and he would say, “Hi Bob doing ok.”

I miss him greatly.

Bob Hasler

https://memorials.wmkippfuneralhome.com/kenneth-sinclair/3746399/service-details.php

Annual General Meeting

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Each year, members of the Paris Museum & Historical Society are encouraged to attend our Annual General Meeting. It’s a perfect opportunity to catch up with what’s going on at the Paris Museum. It’s also a great time to give us your feedback about the past year and let us know what you would like to see happen in the coming year. All members in good standing have a vote, and memberships can be renewed at or before the AGM.

Join us as we prepare for an exciting 2019 together!

Sunday, February 24, 2019
2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

The Paris Museum & Historical Society
Syl Apps Community Centre,
51 William Street
Paris, Ontario

(Enter directly from the parking lot)

Directions

President’s Holiday Message


It’s rainy and grey outside my window today. The snow has been and gone, but I hope that it’s coming back. It just doesn’t seem festive if there’s no snow glistening rooftops during the yuletide.

However you feel about the weather during the festive season and however you chose to celebrate, I hope that you have a chance to experience peace with those you love and who love you. The board of the Paris Museum and Historical Society want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May the beauty of the season find its way into your heart and give purpose to all that you do.

This has been the usual busy year for us at PMHS. When I try to think about all the projects that we’ve worked on in the last 12 months, my mind is a jumble of tasks big and small. Some with an end in sight, and some that can never, by their nature, be finished.

Our devoted volunteers have organized, catalogued, researched, created, explained, fund-raised, donated, welcomed, tidied, fixed, and discovered. And they have done these things and many more, over and over again, with heart, humour and humanity. Of course, no human endeavour is without conflict but somehow or other we manage to embrace the problems, wind our way through the issues, and get on with the job. I am so proud of us for this. No organization could continue for as long as we have (since 1972) without doing most things right (or at least well enough).

One of our biggest challenges looming on the horizon is that we may have to relocate perhaps sooner than we thought. As most of you may know by now, the County of Brant Library system has chosen the Syl Apps Community Centre site for their new main branch. As far as I know, the County has not made any decisions at this time and no timelines have been established for doing so. But the possibility that they may be looking at the redevelopment of the building that we call home has increased. And so the board is beginning to grapple with the task of trying to establish a new future home for the organization. This will be a very large and complex job, and that’s not even considering the execution of a major move.

As daunting as this is, it also presents us with the perfect opportunity to find a permanent home for PMHS. Communities need museums. They need archives. And they need historical societies. And our community needs a lasting home for these things to be secure.

The County’s heritage organizations are the keepers and nurturers of our communities’ collective memory. We can tell you about and share pictures of the people who lived, worked and played here. We can show you how your community has changed over time. We can also help you see what has endured and is enduring here.

In this fast paced world, it is easy to forget the past, and through its neglect, lose its lessons. Many of you may know the lyric to the song Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell (my age is showing here). It goes, “they paved paradise to put up a parking lot”. Well, there’s little PMHS can do about new parking lots, and many would say that more are needed. But we can tell you the stories that live beneath the parking lot.

With the challenge of finding a new home coming towards us, now, more than ever, PMHS needs you. Nothing is accomplished without the passion of volunteers who give so generously of their time and money so that Paris’s heritage may be preserved and understood by future generations.

We look forward to seeing you at our Annual General Meeting in February.

Cate Breaugh
President/Chair
Paris Museum and Historical Society