Heritage in Abbotsford
Come visit us today
Explore history in Abbotsford
Join MSA Museum Society on August 22 from 4-6pm as we fight back against cancer by… knitting? Needling and Wheedling is an afternoon organized to collect donations for the BC Cancer Foundation, and show our community support for those who suffer with the disease. Bring your own project to Duft & Co. Bakehouse 2636 Montrose Ave., Abbotsford, start one with us, or just come to wheedle for your loved ones. Minimum donation of $2 is suggested. Let’s stitch cancer out of our future.
As you all know, I work at the museum. I regularly work and do inventory on the collection. I take people through the house on tours and tell them stories of the “olden times”. I help organize and participate in events that inform, or in some cases, remind, people of the historical narrative of the area. As such, the museum, in a sense, works as a living memory for the community. Things that are donated to the museum and taken into the collection have provenance to Abbotsford and its surrounding environs. We talk often and lovingly to visitors and volunteers about the transitional, progressive and modernist period of the 1920s (well, at least compared to earlier decades, anyways). It’s all good fun and it feels great to be a part of something that creates a link between today’s society and the past.
Recently, however, I have been struggling, dear reader. I tell people about these things and the more I tell them, the more I question the role of memory and the overall narrative that we as a community tell ourselves. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have heard a parent tell their child something along the lines of “Everyone worked as farmers around here during the 1920s,” or, my personal favourite “There was not much of anything here before settlers arrived in the area”.
We should know that both of these things are categorically false. I think (or at least, I really, really hope) that most of us do know that these things are categorically false. There were many different kinds of occupations that you could hold in the Fraser Valley during the 1920s (we needed people of all kinds doing all kinds of jobs to have a functioning society, after all), although granted, the positions didn’t come with the same amount of diversity as you find today. Also, First Nations lived in Abbotsford way before settlers got here. It also wasn’t called Abbotsford before settlers got here. And yet, apparently, one way or another, be it through ignorance or the education system, we don’t know that this narrative is wrong. And we pass this misinformation along to our children, perpetuating the cycle of untruth.
I want to say that this is no one’s fault and that it’s all a culmination of many factors that have resulted in us tending to oversimplify the history of the region, and I guess, that in some way, it isn’t (after all, the provinces do provide the curriculum that teachers pass along to our kids). I understand it’s easier to paint the past with broad statements and not delve into details – details take time and energy and, as I’ve increasingly come to find, a more comprehensive understanding of the narrative that is being delivered and shared. I get that. I also get, from a personal level, our personal experiences shade how and what we pass along and that sometimes, when we forget part of our stories and our past. Just as remembering is a natural process, so is forgetting. But what we forget is, in some cases, just as important (and in some cases, just as revealing) as that which we remember. We, as a society, have a duty to fight against this and to try to remember everyone and everything (as impractical and impossible as it sounds), to hash out the nuances and to shed light in areas that have long been forgotten based on factual, concrete evidence. To do anything other than that would be nothing short of an injustice to the very people that we, as a society as a whole, are comprised of, and would go against the very purpose of what we try to do here at the museum.
Anyways, what I’m really trying to get at is that this is a societal problem. We have a tendency to pass along narratives that oversimplify and, occasionally, exclude very important groups, even if we don’t mean to exclude them and oversimplify them, based on our tendency to forget, and, as such, gloss over the “real” history in order to perpetuate a false account. The only real solution I can see to this problem is to be active in learning about our past. Read an academic article with multiple primary source citations. Visit some monuments. Visit us at the museum! All these things would help everyone remember what we have, as a society, appear to have forgotten.
At any rate, I’ll stop my incessant writing now.
Thanks for reading and check back soon!
- Did You Know?? July 21, 2014
- Needling and Wheedling July 15, 2014
- Slicing and Dicing: Memory (or lack thereof) July 2, 2014
- Sneak peak… June 14, 2014
- Trethewey in Wonderland June 12, 2014
- Need An Idea for Mother’s Day… April 24, 2013
- Directions to Mill Lake Cruise-In July 3, 2013
- Volunteers Needed for Mill Lake Cruise-In on July 13, 2013 July 3, 2013
- Connecting with the Present July 10, 2013
- Wonders of the Past July 18, 2013
- The 100 Mile Diet – A Sustainable Strategy | The Taproot: [...] the many mills, The Abbotsford Lumber Compan...
- The 100 Mile Diet – A Sustainable Strategy | The Taproot: [...] Jan and I visited Abbotsford and the Trethew...
- Abbotsford Wedding Reception Venues « Phantom Party Bus Phantom Party Bus: [...] Trethewy House – 604.853.0313 A design...
- Abbotsford Wedding Photographer │ Cassandra & Tyler » Urban Fig Photography: [...] I was a bit worried for them since they had ...
- A Journey in Time | Wallace Koopmans Artlog: [...] some art related errands when I drove past a...