On a hot spring morning, the young staff at Virden’s Pioneer Home Museum grumble a bit about having to don Victorian era clothing – black wool suit, top hat, floor-length dresses and bonnets. But in truth, they love it and can’t wait to welcome visitors to their old-fashioned world this summer.
Every year a new group of students comes to work for a few months at the museum starting in May. They are the public faces of the museum - curators and tour guides, history sharers and question answerers.
Usually they are summer students heading back to class in the fall. But last year, a new paid position was added in the form of a full-time coordinator. The first person to fill that position was Brett Bambridge last summer; this year the museum welcomes Deanna Doucette of Virden to the role.
Board member Susan Ivey says the board felt it was better to have someone based at the Pioneer Home to manage daily affairs, coordinate staff schedules, and organize special events, tasks that the volunteer board members used to carry out.
She adds, “We are very excited to have a great group of staff this year and they are pleased to provide a tour to all visitors this summer. Many changes have already happened this year and everyone is invited to come and have a tour.”
The Empire-Advance asked coordinator Deanna Doucette and the students to introduce themselves since you’ll be seeing them at the museum and around town this summer. (And as usual, museum staff will be providing our readers with fascinating stories about artifacts at the Pioneer Home until the fall.)
Deanna Doucette: This year’s museum coordinator was born in Alliston, Ont. and grew up in the heart of the badlands in Drumheller, Alta. She followed her husband from Airdrie, Alta. to Virden for his new job at Tundra Oil & Gas. With a true love of all that’s historical and having a background in tourism, writing, photography, and entrepreneurship, Doucette is more than happy to be here in the lovely town of Virden and a vibrant part of its history.
Nicholas Crawford: He’s one of the four assistant curators and tour guides at the museum, plus he keeps the lot looking nice and tidy. Nicholas was born in Brandon and lives on a farm outside Virden. He’s in Grade 10 at Virden Collegiate and is working to save money for a car (Ford Mustang!) His hobbies include carpentry and riding his horse, Buddy.
Madisen Naughton: Madisen, an assistant curator and tour guide, was born in Minnedosa and now lives in Lenore. She’s in her senior year at VCI with plans to go to the University of Regina to study either history or psychology. Madisen has an interest in learning about the way of life in the past. She’s very enthusiastic to be part of the museum team and is looking forward to having a marvelous summer.
Madeline Peters: Also an assistant curator and guide at the museum this summer, Madeline has lived in Brandon most of her life. She recently moved to Edmonton to attend the University of Alberta and study psychology. Madeline plans to become a counsellor but hasn’t completely made up her mind. She’s excited to be part of the museum team as she loves using art and design to help plan and organize events and engage with the public. (She also loves snooping around in the drawers of the museum to find hidden artifacts!)
Allisa Venema: Allisa was born in Langley, BC. and moved to Brandon at age 11. She’s an interdisciplinary artist who completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the U of M and returned to Brandon University to get her Education degree. She has previously worked as the intern curator at Dalnavert Museum and Visitors Centre in Winnipeg and the Royal Canadian Artillery Museum at CFB Shilo. Allisa has a passion for the preservation of the past and education for our future.