The Assistant Curator of the Transcona Museum talks with our two Summer Program Assistants, Cassandra and Jeremiah, on their experiences at the museum, program highlights, and thoughts about the community of Transcona.
The big question at the top of the discussion, why the Transcona Museum? What motivated you to apply to the museum for the summer?
Cassandra: The Transcona Museum is close by [to my home] and I thought it would be a good idea to continue my experiences in child care and teaching. The idea of running a drop-in program was also very exciting.
Jeremiah: I worked at the museum last summer and I am very interested in history. I have also worked with children at day-camps and at Tinkertown, so this position was a job I felt I could do well.
So, what does a typical week look like for you?
Cassandra: [July and August] Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in the mornings I work on my projects before getting ready for the Summer Drop-Ins activities, which are in the afternoons. Tuesday is a day to continue working on projects and other tasks. On Thursday is the Market Garden!
Jeremiah: Saturday is like Tuesday, a chance to work on our social media content, blog posts, video, etc.
Cassandra: In June it was different, it was a lot of planning and getting stuff ready for the summer programs that happen in July and August. Yes, June was a busy month of planning.
What are your main responsibilities and projects at the museum?
Cassandra: I started the summer by planning KidsQuest, and then getting the activities and scavenger hunts ready for the Drop-Ins. Right now, I have completed my blog post and I'm working on finishing my video. Everything else happens around the Summer Drop-Ins.
Jeremiah: Advertising and social media [for the Summer Drop-Ins and KidsQuest] and running the Market Garden and walking tours, too.
It's many projects on the go, but you keep yourselves organized?
Cassandra: Yes, I keep a running to-do list every week.
Jeremiah: I think we did very well in June, keeping on top of deadlines and planning activities efficiently. The weekly staff meetings have been good too - knowing what deadlines are coming up.
The Transcona Museum offers a few different programs for children and their families during the summer, including Drop-Ins. When planning the Summer Drop-Ins, what kinds of activities were you looking to provide?
Cassandra: I was trying to follow the sensory guidelines I used in daycare. Activities that use all of the senses, plus some gross motor skills.
Jeremiah: I wanted the kids to have fun while learning something, whether it be how water reacts with oil or what makes rain. How oobleck is made and why it's weird!
What has been the most popular activity or theme week? What craft activities have you enjoyed?
Jeremiah: Oobleck and Kinetic Sand. The kids had a lot of fun with those experiments. I really enjoyed Ocean in a Bottle.
Cassandra: Textiles Week, with beading and braiding. One of the activities is teaching kids how to make Viking rope, basically!
The KidsQuest scavenger hunt. When planning the booklets, how did you decide on the route around the community?
Cassandra: I started with the new Transcona Scouts mural and a few others, so I anchored the route with murals. I included the Transcona Shops main gate, the Cenotaph, and other well-known community spots. I filled in the route/questions from there. I also used the idea of the murals on the front cover of the booklets, where kids get to create their own [mural] to colour.
Why is it important that the museum offer these types of free to low-cost programs to the community of Transcona every summer?
Jeremiah: I think it helps people to notice the museum and it's a draw, with the KidsQuest [for example] being only $1. It gets people interested in the other programs we offer. Comparable programs might be more expensive, so it's definitely affordable.
Cassandra: I have had parents tell me it's something for the children to do, other than playing video games all the time! It also gives the kids something to do outside in the community [the KidsQuest].
The museum also offers guided walking tours of Downtown Transcona! What can groups discover or learn on these tours?
Jeremiah: People don't necessarily look deeper into their community, so with the Murals of Transcona tour I have had people say "I didn't even know this [mural] was here!" The murals in the back lane behind the museum are tucked away, and the tour opens up their perspective of the community.
Cassandra: It also gives people an opportunity to interact with the past and share stories about what Transcona was like during their childhood. Because many of those place are gone, so having the pictures and telling the history is a wonderful tool.
There were some other projects (blog post, video) you both completed over the summer that involved research. What were you excited to discover as a result?
Cassandra: That's me tucked away in my little bunny burrow - a research rabbit hole! I was very excited to do this kind of original research and having the chance to look through old newspapers and finding those little details in the archives [on the 1930 bank robbery of the Bank of Toronto]. It was fleshing out the story, something that I really loved. Yes, it was a lot of fun!
Jeremiah: The topics I researched didn't involve that amount of research, but I got to learn more about the history of the train [CN 2747] and the group of 30+ steam engines that the Transcona Shops produced. It was more reading than researching. But still very interesting!
Cassandra: It's just great to put a story together that most people won't know about, or necessarily have the time to research.
What has been the highlight of your work here at the museum?
Cassandra: By far the research! I also really enjoyed making the KidsQuest.
Jeremiah: The interactions that I have had on the walking tours when the groups are really engaged. When I can share stories and information about the Transcona community that most people don't know. And events like Doors Open and Canada Day, watching families have fun at the museum.
Final thoughts or comments?
Cassandra: Having the opportunity to interact with the kids outside of a traditional classroom setting, and learning in a more relaxed environment has been so nice. This job has also helped to give me more confidence speaking and engaging with larger groups of people, which will be very helpful when I'm teaching in the classroom.
Jeremiah: The ability to learn about the history of Transcona and then have the confidence to share that information [on a tour or through a program] with the community has been great.
Our Summer Program Assistants who run the Transcona Museum's summer programs are hired due to the results of grants.