Fig.1- Sole-surviving photograph of Tucker Family in front of Tucker House, cir.1870-1880's (April 2015)
At the beginning of June in the summer of 2014, I was officially hired to be the inaugural Local History Interpreter at Tucker House Renewal Centre, and I can ensure you that it has been one of the greatest and beneficial periods of my life in working there. While the Tucker House Renewal Centre office for the organization can be found just off Bank Street in the central part of the Glebe, the house and property is located 20 minutes east of Ottawa on the east side of Rockland, Ontario on Tucker Road, so named after the family who owned the house and surrounding property. What is historically important about the location of the house is that it used to be the main road between Ottawa and Montreal up until the 20th century, and how the Tucker family was able to establish themselves as community builders within the Clarence-Rockland area.
Stephen and Lucy Tucker were originally from Brandon, Vermont, who moved to Montebello, Quebec in the 1830's and built themselves a strong fortune through a quarry business, before finally settling where the house today. The house itself was built in 1870 and has come to be owned and operated by the Tucker House Renewal Centre organization in 2015 who promotes sustainable and renewable living, and beginning in early 2014, a stronger focus on the history and heritage of the house.
In holding my previous position as Local History Interpreter, I was able to delve straight into everything historic about the house and property and establish inaugural systems and protocols for all of the artifacts and historic objects within the house. My time period with the organization over the summer of 2014 allowed be to become familiar with the house, the property, the artifact, and the people who have played such a monumental part in why working there has benefited me greatly. Although my last semester in the museum studies program took priority in the Fall of 2014, I continued my work at the house in the form of designing display panels, but what proved to be an even substantial task was composing and submitting two treatment proposal applications to the Canadian Conservation Institute. Unfortunately at the time the organization did not fall within the mandate of the Institute so our proposals were declined, however it boosted our spirits nonetheless in continuing our heritage goals for the house and organization.
Since it was my last year in the program, I was required to complete a four-month internship at a institution or organization of our choice. My choice placement was of course at Tucker House and so at the very beginning of January 2015, my internship began. My supervisor and I organized my intership around the goal of making me as strong a candidate for a career in the museum field as possible and so my work was focused in five areas: collections management, exhibitions, conservation and preservation, research, and public relations. As I had these five areas to focus my work on, the projects themselves developed and were concieved as the internship went on and is where my initiative was strengthed as I was relied upon to accomplish my tasks with minimal supervision brought on by the high-level of trust that the Tucker House executive staff holds in me. After the completion of my internship, I completed my tasks for each section and presented them as a part of my programs graduate showcase.
The following are the tasks that I accomplished as per each area of my internship:
- In assessing the collection, write condition reports on artifacts to further my Collection's condition reporting writing skills
- Acquire first-hand experience in the implementation and use of Tucker House's inaugural artifact database system (may be spreadsheet-based or more proprietary software)
- Applying my collections training to add inaugural accession numbers to different artifacts and different artifact types
- Implement my artifact handling training and skills to ensure the safe storage and moving of artifacts in non-museum conditions
- Research and make a case for the value of and use for database software for collections management; assist if/as needed in instruction and use based on input and direction from supervisor
- Further my skills and acquire new experience in the fabrication of educational displays for Tucker House
- Expand my skills in exhibitions in the planning of future Tucker House displays implementing in-house artifacts and history
- Analyze and determine the best design and implementation for Tucker House educational displays by means of suitable locations and display eligibility
Conservation and Preservation
- Improve my conservation and preservation skills and knowledge of different types of artifacts such as paper, ceramics, wood/upholstery, and silver, by way of treatments for each respective artifact type
- Gain conservation experience in treating artifacts and establishing preservation principles
- Assess the collection to the best of my abilities to determine future care and treatment of artifacts
- Expand upon my research skills by applying more personal forms of research (in person, by phone), with coaching and practice in interviewing, recording, and confirming data
- Utilize my research skills to establish an official and permanent Tucker Family tree that will require thorough research and documentation, identifying any areas of conflicting or contradictory information
- Applying my research skills to gather and develop local area history using Tucker House artifacts
- Improve my communication skills by interacting with museums, historic institutions, media and the public, and local and Ottawa-based groups
- Gain understanding and experience in professional representation of an institution according to its networking and outreach policies and procedures
- Perform public outreach for local and area events in order to locate events that Tucker House can represent itself at through a travelling display
- Implement my communication skills to form potential partnerships by exploring into local and area institutions before putting forward a package for the administration of Tucker House to review
- Utilize my communication skills and interactions with these groups to grow my network of contacts
- Improving my second-language skills through personal and work practice
Even though my internship officially ended at the showcase, my work with Tucker House has continued on and I do not see it ceasing at any time. I have since switched and created other projects to work on for the organization, with my substantial being researching and composing the Emergency Preparedness Plan for Tucker House. My work continues on the E.P.P. and once it is reviewed and ratified by the executive staff of the organization, steps will be taken to impliment the program. As that will signal the end of another project, there will always be more to work on at Tucker House Renewal Centre.
Fig.2- Close-up of Title Text for 1862 Map of Upper Canada (July 2014)
Fig.3- Last day of my intership at Tucker House Renewal Centre (April 2015)
History Mystery Program
Early in 2017, work began on a new programming concept was conceived for the continued growth and development of Tucker House Renewal Centre. This program was an historical take on the escape room activity where the background will be based on Canada150 celebrations. It will launch in the middle of this June as a warm-up to July 1st activities and celebrations, and will then run from this date to the middle of November. It is the goal of having this program at Tucker House Renewal Centre to promote local-area history and heritage from the beginning of the 19th century, to around the time of Confederation, and up until the present day. If this program concludes to be at successful, it will be continued and expanded upon for next year.
My Role as the History Mystery Developer for the Program
As a leading member of the History Mystery Program team, I took on the role of history mystery developer with the goals of creating and developing the program for launch and its life time. In this position, I held a range of tasks and responsibilities dedicated to the creation, composing, and development of every aspect of this program. Through all of my work as the history mystery developer, I had strengthened current as well as gaining new capabilities along the lines of historical research and report writing, problem creation and solving, creation and implementation of game theory, and care of historical items in a gaming atmosphere. It was my ongoing goal in this position to further expand and strengthen my overall capabilities in every aspect of my life, work, and everything else for continued work with Tucker House Renewal Centre, as well as all other opportunities that arise for me to become a part of now and into the future.
My overall responsibilites in this position were as follows:
- Writing and developing history and educational programs
- Historical research
- Report writing
- Historical storyline brainstorming and script writing
- Puzzles and clues brainstorming and composing
- Historical items usage brainstorming and implementation
- Responsible for care of artifact collection