Monday, July 21, 2014

Media Mondays!

                Happy Monday everyone. This week we are discussing our new visitor survey research that we are conducting this year. We have a variety of visitor surveys in a variety of formats - all directed to making you experience here at Backus-Page House Museum a positive one! 
               Firstly, when you come to visit the museum your tour guide will ask you some basic information for our visitor research. That information is recorded on our white tour cards. We ask questions like age, address or postal code so that we can better gauge the demographic that we are connecting with here at the museum. Other important research questions include: how you heard about the museum or if any technology was utilized during your visit.
              Secondly, we have integrated our survey into a tablet that focuses on the tour of the museum in general. The survey is completely electronic, and created by use of the "Loop Survey App." The questions are customized for our museum and ask you to rate, comment on the quality and give us comments or suggestions. Questions include: rating your overall experience, rating the exhibit, and asking if your tour guide was clear and informative. These visitor surveys are intended to help us better serve our visitors here at the museum.
              Lastly, we have added the same survey to our website so that visitors can access it at their leisure. All results are confidential, unless you wish to include your contact information. The results are emailed directly to the museum and we make changes based on your comments and suggestions.
Overall, visitor surveys and visitor research are some of the many ways we are constantly improving our service here at the Backus-Page House Museum, so please fill one out on your next visit!

                                                Example of the visitor survey on the tablet!
by Sarah Johnston

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Behind The Scenes Sundays

Things staff at Backus-Page House Museum say: "Let's name him Simon Flower Pepe."

This past week we have a very cute park resident hanging around and eating from the kitchen garden.  We had to put up the fences to keep out our new friend.  He (or she) casually walks away and hides under the deck of the carriage house whenever he sees one of us.  So if you visit the museum, be on the lookout for our skunk.  We're trying to get his picture, but he seems to be camera shy. 

The board held their monthly meeting on Thursday and spent about 45 minutes brain storming.  By January, we want to have a five year plan to present to the membership.  It's important to know where we are headed and set goals for the future of Backus-Page.  We focussed on ideas regarding Membership and Donors, Events and Programming, plus Large Projects.  I am very excited with the contributions of volunteers and staff, and encourage you to leave comments on this post with your thoughts.  I will take all ideas to the next board meeting, so tell us what you want to see at Backus-Page House Museum from now until 2019. 

It's family reunion time, so we've had many visitors asking about family records and resources in our records.  We have two reunions booked so far this summer to be held on the museum grounds.  One was held today which is why this post is late as it was my husband's family and we were hosting the event.  It was the 50th Annual Bobier Reunion!!  We were excited to have many attendees who had not been out in years.  The compliments on the Backus-Page grounds, the atmosphere, and the nearness to St. Peter's cemetery, where many ancestors are buried were numerous.  Next Saturday another reunion on site and I hope they have as great an afternoon as we did.  I look forward to meeting them all and touring them around the interior of the museum. 

The internet is still not working properly, as the nearest tower is having issues.  We are able to send and receive emails, but it's hit and miss on when we can and when we can't and how long it takes.  Please have patience if you send us something or we are trying to send you something.  Until next week, I wish you all the best.

Angela Bobier, Cultural Manager

Friday, July 18, 2014

Foodie Friday- Apple Pudding

Apple Pudding
  • 1 1/2 pounds of flour
  • 6 ounces of suet (fat) chopped finely
  • 2 ounces of peeled apples
  • 4 ounces of sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  1. Mix the flour, suet and salt with the water into a firm paste. Roll this out on a surface that flour has been shaken over.
  2. Line a greased cloth with the rolled out paste. Fill up the hallow part of the paste with the peeled apples, gather up the sides of the paste and twist them together.
  3. Tie up the pudding in the cloth and boil it in plenty of water for 2 hours. Turn out of the cloth. Cut a round piece out of the top and stir in the sugar.
Kelsey Conway
Backus Page House Museum

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Catching Up WIth Catie!

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

I hope you all had a relaxing and enjoyable week J  This past week here at the museum was a wee bit exciting at times.  We spent an afternoon trying to kill a hornet that was in the carriage house and Sarah was trying to spray it with bleach and water so we could stun it to kill it, but she ended up getting bleach on other things, such as my shorts and sweater.  We all laughed very hard!  We have a bunch of fun and laugh lots out here.  For example, we were filming videos for the website and having too much fun doing it.  We can’t wait for you all to see them!

We also walked the trail and it is all cleaned up and ready for our hikers, however the one bridge still needs to be fixed.  We are working on getting this done ASAP J  Mel and I are also back weeding today, the orchard garden this time.  There are some monster weeds in there and the squash is taking over the poor onions.  There is a before and after picture below.

Lastly, I experienced my first tea this past Sunday.  We were a happening place Sunday afternoon, between tours and tea-goers, which is great to see and be a part of. 
Have a great week :)


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Toolbox Tuesday - Sheep Shears

Hand Shears

Shearing refers to the cutting or shaving of the wool off a sheep. This does not hurt the animal, it is just like getting a hair cut. Sheep should be sheared at least once a year or they may become very stressed and uncomfortable. Today the majority of sheep are sheared with electric shears, although up until the beginning of the 20th century farmers would manually shear their sheep using hand shears (pictured above). Hand shears consist of two blades arranged similar to scissors except the hinge is at the furthest end from the point (not in the middle). Hand shears leave more wool on the sheep compared to the more modern electric shears. This would be beneficial for farmers who live in colder climates as freshly sheared sheep need more feed to help maintain their body heat. The wool taken from the sheep would then be cleaned, spun and made into a number of different items around the home including clothing and blankets.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Media Mondays

Happy Monday Everyone!

            Today's Media Monday post will focus on the audio and visual initiatives that the museum is tackling this year so that we can better serve our museum audience. We fortunately have the opportunity to have 5 tablets that will be placed throughout the museum. On these tablets I have just finished creating presentations that describe each room in the museum and point out specific items in each room - much like a tour guide would. These tablet presentations are perfect for self-guided tours or for those with hearing disabilities - these guests may utilize the tablets at their leisure and read along as their tour moves from room to room. 
           We have noticed this season that many people prefer to discover the museum at their own pace and would rather tour the house alone. However, when these people have questions about the objects or collections, there is no one there to answer them. Therefore, alongside the use of the self-guided tablets, I have also created self-tour booklets that guests can use while they travel throughout the house. These booklets are meant for guests to keep as a souvenir and can be referenced when they have questions. Altogether - this season we are moving forward to a more accessible and inclusive environment here at the Backus-Page House Museum.

by Sarah Johnston

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Behind the Scenes Sunday 3

Things Backus-Page House Museum staff were saying this week: "Does your computer have internet?  Nope.  (insert huge sigh here)"

The bane of my existence this week was dodgy internet.  Even when we could connect to it, it was so slow it took me over 3 hours to send one email.  They tell me there is an issue at the closest tower so if you send us an email or are expecting one from us, please have patience.  We didn't realize how many tasks require use of the internet until we lost it.  We couldn't even take credit card payments since it requires Wi-Fi.  Let's hope our technological issues are solved by Tuesday morning when we're back in the office. 

New to our collection this week is a Bible belonging to Robert Stevenson of Tyrconnell dated 1876.  It contains a pressed flower, marriage license to Sarah M. Crane and handwritten listings of the family births and deaths.  This item, along with a 1904 W.R.A. medal was donated by Jennifer (Stevenson) Worth, the great great granddaughter of Robert.  Jenny and I went through school together and her mother, Mary Jane Stevenson, volunteered with the Tyrconnell Heritage Society in the early days of the society.  Jenny recalls coming to the Backus-Page House with her Mom before all the renovations and being told to wear her work clothes.  Jenny was so excited to see the renovations complete and how we've furnished the rooms and maintained the grounds.  I was glad for the quick visit to catch up.    

Adding an item into our collection (called an accession) involves many steps.  When the item arrives, a Gift Form is filled out listing all the items being donated and the museum staff person and the donor sign the form, giving ownership to the Backus-Page House Museum.  I try to get as much information from the donor about their item(s) such as who it belonged to, where did they get it, how was it used and anything else they can tell me.  The next step is for me to decide whether the item will be added to our permanent or educational collection.  Educational means it can be handled and demonstrated and permanent means that it can be seen, but not handled. 

With the Stevenson Bible, I took the time to transcribe all the handwritten births and deaths for our records and for anyone interested in the genealogical information.  This way we can use or provide the information without opening the actual Bible.  I also included a copy of my transcriptions with a thank you letter to Jenny, similar to the letters we send to each and every donor. 

Every item in our collection has a worksheet for it with such information as measurements, description, history, maker, and most importantly what it's assigned accession number will be and where on the item that number is written.  The funniest description I have seen on one of our worksheets says "like the one the Honey Nut Cheerios Bee carries".  It's a desciption for a honey dipper!!   

The worksheet, gift form, and any other documentation pertaining to the artefact are filed in the current year's binder in order of accession number.  The accession number is written onto the item itself in an inconspicuous location.  Research is done to assign a monetary value to the item so we know the amount for the donor's charitable tax receipt.  These values are approved at the monthly board meeting by board motion and vote.   

Onto the computerized collection records: A photograph is taken and the computer file of the photograph is given the accession number as it's name, making it very easy to find.  The artefact is entered into the Collection Registry for the current year using only it's accession number, name of the item, and the donor's name.  All information on the worksheet is entered into the Master Card Catalogue database plus a digital scan of the gift form and photograph(s).  At this time I decide where the artefact will be placed whether that is inside the museum, the barn, the collection storage room, or for paper documents or photographs, the accessions filing cabinet in my office.  The location is an integral part of the Master Card Catalogue database.  

Once the item is in it's assigned location that ends the accessions process.  Charitable tax receipts are mailed out each February to our donors.  I hope this quick description gives you an idea of what happens after you donate something to us for the collection.  Moving an item through this process can take anywhere from an hour to all day if we have trouble finding information. 

Leave a comment below about other behind the scenes museum work or park management you would be interested in reading about and share all our posts on your social media accounts.  Thank you.

Don't forget Sunday Summer Teas 1-4pm in July and August.  $10 per person includes tea, baked goods in the parlour and a tour of the museum. 

Angela Bobier, Cultural Manager