Merrickville and District Historical Society is not your grandparent’s historical society. MDHS continues to embark on innovative projects that have positioned them at the forefront of the ever-evolving Canadian museum community. The newest project will see their collections database, PastPerfect, published online for public access in 2022. Currently, access is provided on a stand-alone computer at the Merrickville Public Library.
Pre-COVID, the Merrickville Blockhouse Museum served 10,000 visitors to Merrickville during the summer season. “The adoption of PastPerfect Web Edition is simply the evolution of our services to our community,” says Kaven Baker-Voakes, an MDHS volunteer, who has an M.A. (European, Russian, Eurasian Studies) from Carleton University, and a Certificate in Museum Studies from the Ontario Museum Association. “Merrickville will be among the first adopters of the online version of this catalogue, which will enable it to potentially help other museums.”
This project will make the artifacts in Merrickville Blockhouse Museum and the objects and documents in MDHS’ off-site storage more accessible to the community by providing online access to the collection and paving the way for online exhibits. Lauren Ulbricht, MDHS intern and recent Master of Museum Studies graduate, will be working hard with volunteers to launch the public online database in early 2022.
“We are very excited to make the collection available to the community and a broader audience,” Lauren said. MDHS is lucky to have Lauren’s knowledge and skills for this internship as a result of a Government of Canada Young Canada Works – Building Careers in Heritage grant. Lauren’s previous exhibit work can be seen in other Ontario museums, including the Billy Bishop Museum, Owen Sound, and Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada in Toronto.
MDHS is a volunteer-run charitable organization that depends upon its membership to operate the Merrickville Blockhouse Museum and showcase Merrickville-Wolford’s heritage. Angela Beking and Elizabeth Robinson, themselves emerging professionals who are former Blockhouse Managers and MDHS interns, are now sharing their industry, knowledge, and passion with the Society as members of the Executive Committee. Jane Graham, Christopher Eyton, Rod Fournier, and Ann Martin round out the Executive Committee. Other key volunteers work behind the scenes to ensure that Merrickville-Wolford’s history is preserved.
“MDHS is fortunate to have a variety of volunteers who bring a wealth of knowledge from various backgrounds. I have met several college instructors, curators, and learned from a number of other professionals,” said Kaven Baker-Voakes. “I’m happy to continue the tradition by passing along my experiences and learning from other volunteers.”
MDHS is looking forward to sharing the history and heritage of Merrickville–Wolford online. Some of these stories are well known, but there are so many more to be uncovered. MDHS invites those who have stories from the past that they’d like known to reach out to the Society.
To learn more, or to get involved with the MDHS and the Merrickville Blockhouse Museum, you can find MDHS on Facebook, or at www.merickvillehistory.org.