Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Prairie Paladin Medieval Market and Faire Spotlight: Saskatoon Historical Fencing Society

Our fifth interview done in this series was with Lindsay Goodwin, who is a member of the Saskatoon Historical Fencing Society. Having sent Lindsay a list of questions she sent me back her answers to help us at the Museum, and the wider community, understand better what her group is all about.

Q: Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions Lindsay. The first thing I would like to know is what your position within your group is and how long have you been involved?

A: All of the club members are fighters first and foremost. Together we are a community of fighters who share teaching positions within the club. This encourages our members to learn firsthand from our resources and share ideas with the group in a community learning environment. I became involved with the group in 2012, when I stumbled upon their poster in one of the University of Saskatchewan hallways. I went to one of their meetings and instantly fell in love.

Q: That is fantastic! What inspired you to join the group after attending that first meeting and what is your favourite part of being involved in your group?

A: I have always had an appreciation for martial arts. Fencing gives me an opportunity to participate in a martial art, as well as shamelessly loving the medieval lifestyle. It’s also really great exercise, which is an added bonus. My favourite part is the sense of community I feel when the club meets and we all share our interest in learning and practicing these techniques. We all get along and are here to improve one another’s skills.

Q: I can definitely relate to the appeal of learning a different type of martial art that you don’t always find being taught in other places. Do you find you gain more insight into the medieval groups that you are learning the fighting styles of? If so, could you please describe an aspect of it?

A: Because our club covers a great scope of time periods we see how weapons and combat change along with the world around it. Most of our manuals are written with a particular environment in mind which reveals a great deal about how and why people employed the weapons and techniques that they did.

Q: That is extremely interesting, especially that you have enough information to recreate their techniques. Now this was the Historical Fencing Society’s second year participating the Museum’s festival. What would you say is your favourite part about being involved with the medieval festival? What would you like to see in the festival’s future?

A: The Museum has really supported us as a University club, and we are more than happy to return the favour. It’s a great opportunity for the club to demonstrate its knowledge and skill, to meet others interested in this art, and to interact with the public. Personally, I am just glad to share with others all that I have learned from medieval sword-fighting. For future festivals, it would be interesting to see a little cross club competition, since we are a fight oriented club. Additionally, we would also like to see this festival evolve to the state where we could have a medieval feast (we love to eat!).

Q: That sounds awesome, a medieval feast is definitely an experience that would be great for community members to enjoy, and is something that the Museum has been thinking about trying to take on. For my last question, is there anything that you see in your group’s future that you are excited about?

A: Hopefully we can get to a more competitive level and see the rest of the historical fencing community grow as well. More people getting involved is an exciting prospect, as new fencers only make the community better and stronger.

Q: Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions Lindsay!      


For more information about the Historical Fencing Society, check out their Facebook page:

Monday, 19 October 2015

The Prairie Paladin Medieval Market and Faire Spotlgiht: The Saskatchewan Archaeological Society

Our fourth interview was done with the Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Archaeological Society Dr. Tomasin Playford.

Q: Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions Tomasin, we were very happy that you could join our event this year. Could you tell me a little bit about the Saskatchewan Archaeological Society and what it does?

A: Well it’s a membership based society, and what we do is we bring together people interested in archaeology and we have been around for over 50 years. We celebrated our 50th anniversary in 2013 and the society grew out of collectors that were going out on the landscape that came together wanting to learn more about the artifacts that they were finding. We offer about 20 different programs and services. So we have things that we do for our members and the general public: we publish a quarterly and occasional papers, we do an annual gathering and general meeting every year, bus tours, workshops, and we also have a library. One of our most popular activities in a public field school which we offer every summer. The SAS also does conservation work, which includes the identification and recording of archaeological sites, and providing educational programs as well, such as guidelines for visiting archaeological sites. We have a core group of volunteers that are part of the SAS but we are always looking for volunteers to help with individual projects.

Q: Well that’s really cool! Does the society operate year round?

A: Yes, our office hours are generally Monday to Thursday 9:00am to 4:00pm or Friday by appointment so there is often someone in the office. We might be out in the field doing work or running errands, so I always recommend that people call first just to make sure we’re there.  

Q: That’s great! It is definitely important for the public to have the opportunity to get involved and learn about archaeology. How long have you been involved in the society and what inspired you to pursue the Saskatchewan Archaeological Society?

A: I have been the Executive Director for just over 2 years but I have been a member for about a dozen years now. I was a graduate student at the University of Saskatchewan but I didn’t really get connected with my provincial organization until I moved away unfortunately. So my motivation when I was a student was to learn more about Saskatchewan archaeology. When I moved away it was a bit more to support the Society, so I think that if I could speak to other people’s motivations, they are all different. Students connect because they wanted to network, we give out bursaries, there are teachers that join because they want to use our resources, and we have members that have been involved as collectors, so there are many different motivating factors that attract different people.

Q: That’s fantastic that there is such a wide variety of people involved with the society. Do you find that you gain insight into the groups that lived, and in fact still live, in Saskatchewan through Plains Archaeology?

A: Oh yes, about 90% of the archaeology that we do in Saskatchewan is First Nations Pre-Contact Archaeology, so we are increasing our connections with First Nations and Metis peoples in terms of their archaeology. There is a vast amount of information held by the First Nations and Metis, but we must keep in mind that we need to be respectful and understand that it doesn’t always have to be shared with the general public.

Q: That is a great point and something I definitely think that everyone needs to remember! My next question for you is what is your favorite thing about being a part of the Saskatchewan Archaeological Society?

A: My favorite part it is that it is my dream job, and is one of the best archaeological jobs that I could have asked for. I get to go talk to people about archaeology, and it’s different every day. It’s definitely about the people, we have a great membership, but we also get to bring archaeology to people who don’t know about it or understand it. We also get access to unique artifacts that not everybody necessarily gets to see in Saskatchewan. It’s also about learning for me, that we get the chance to learn about all aspects that archaeology encompasses in Saskatchewan. One of our most popular programs is the field school. It’s not actually that common in Canada for there to be public archaeology, Wanuskewin is actually the longest running public archaeological program in Canada.

Q: That is awesome! What you have described is something that has always been attractive to me about archaeology. It’s not only about the chance to learn from archaeology but to share that knowledge with others. Is there anything in the Saskatchewan Archaeological Society’s future that you are excited about?

A: Well actually, as a provincial group we are organized into chapters, and the Saskatoon Archaeological Society is celebrating their 80th anniversary this year the same weekend as Culture Days. Most of what we do for archaeology is in the summer. We also published our third occasional papers in archaeology on the Cypress Hills Massacre at the Fort Walsh area, so you should look for that in your local bookstore.

Q: I definitely will! That would be an interesting read. Now for my last question, what motivated you to approach the Museum of Antiquities to become part of our festival?

A: I approached the Museum because I had attended it the year before with my nieces and nephews. I was really excited because we had did our Culture Days event on the Friday so that we could have a chance to attend the other events throughout the weekend. I was really excited for this event because of the diversity of activities that were made available, which is something that attracted me to attend the event as a participant and that they were so kid friendly. I thought it would be a great opportunity for the kids, both boys and girls which ranged in age from 5 to 12 years old, and there was something for everyone. I also thought it would be neat to make that relationship between the New World and Old World here in Saskatchewan. We were also interested in coming to this event because of the exposure. There were so many people that participated last year and we saw a better opportunity to showcase what the Saskatchewan Archaeological Society has to offer to the public than what we could have done on our own.
Q: Yes we are very excited that we can make that connection between New World and Old World this year. Part of our mandate for the event is to offer exposure to different cultures that still affect the present day Saskatoon community and helping them understand them equally. I want to thank for taking the time to answer these questions. We know the SAS has a lot to offer the Prairie Paladin Medieval Market and Faire and that it will be a hit with the community!

For more information about the Saskatchewan Archaeological Society, check out their webpage at:

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

The Prairie Paladin Medieval Market and Faire Spotlight: The Society for Creative Anachronism

Our third interview was done with Dezz Windecker-Klassen from the Society for Creative Anachronism Barony of Myrgan Wood. She is the current interm Seneschal (president) of the local SCA chapter and has been working with the Museum on the Prairie Paladin Medieval Market and Faire since the very beginning.

Q: Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions Dezz. The first thing I would like to know is what you do for your day time job, what your position within the SCA is and how long you have been involved?

A: During the day I am an office manager and family law paralegal for a law firm in Saskatoon. My current position within the SCA is interm Seneschal (president) and I have been playing for 18 years.

Q: That is fantastic to see the commitment you have to the SCA not only by being involved for so many years, but to also take on a larger leadership role within the group. What inspired you to join the SCA and what is your motivation to continue volunteering your time?

A: I wanted to meet new people and explore the medieval history surrounding my family’s origins. My motivation to volunteer in my group is the joy I see when people enjoy the benefits of that work. The best time to see the results of my efforts is when you take a moment in the middle of an event and just watch and everybody is enjoying themselves. When it comes to our demonstrations it is the smiles, laughter and general excitement of the crowd.

Q: I definitely relate to that type of motivation and how inspiring it can truly be. Do you find you gain more insight into the different groups of the time periods you reenact and study? Could you please describe for me an aspect of it?

A: This is dependent on how much research you determine to do as it relates to a time period you want to replicate. As well, it is truly hard to know the life as there are aspects that cannot be replicated.

Q: That is great that you allow members to do as much (or little) as they want to in respect of the research they want to do. What is your favorite part of being involved with the SCA and what do you see in its future?

A: I don’t have one favorite but multiple. I enjoy running/organizing events for our members to enjoy and my other favorite was when I was Baroness and the ability I had to present individuals with awards to show how much their skills and service are appreciated. I see growth in our group as it pertains to members and the growth of our youth armoured combatants.

Q: Wow that is really cool! I definitely see myself being a part of the SCA one day, which may not be in the near future, but definitely one day. Now for my final questions. What is your favorite part of being involved with the Museum’s medieval festival and what would you like to see in the festival’s future?

A: My favorite part of the festival is watching the children as they see our armoured members fight in combat. We would like to see other organizations become involved with the festival that assist with activities that visitors can be interactive in.

Q: That is great, we are definitely trying to accomplish having more groups become involved with the festival to make it bigger, better and have more things for the community to learn about and enjoy. Thank you Dezz for taking your time to answer these questions, I know there are lots of people who would be interested in what your group has to offer.

The Society for Creative Anachronism, Barony of Myrgan Wood will be at the festival all day, performing in the combat arena to show off their combat skills, as well as demonstrating other crafts that they recreated from medieval times. To celebrate their 36th anniversary the Myrgan Wood Branch of the Avacal Kingdom, they will be holding an event on October 3, 2015 in Dalmeny, SK. For more information, follow this link:

For more information about the SCA, the Barony of Myrgan Wood, and other SCA events check out these websites:

Monday, 14 September 2015

The Prairie Paladin Medieval Market and Faire Spotlight: Weldon Gray

Our second spotlight interview of the Prairie Paladin Medieval Market and Faire series is with Luthier Weldon Gray. This is Weldon’s third year volunteering at the Museum’s medieval festival and he has been involved with the Museum since 2013 when the Museum curated an exhibit of his instruments known as Euphonia: Music for the Masses in the Middle Ages. His musical performances are enjoyed by all ages at the festival, and this year he is bringing with him an exciting new addition: Miz Weaver & the Ragamuffins, a youth choir that performs medieval music. It was my pleasure to sit down with Weldon to discuss the work that he does.

Luthier Weldon Gray
Q: Thank you Weldon for coming and doing this interview, I am excited to share all the things that you do. The first thing I would like to know is what do you do when you are not making instruments or performing, what motivates you to volunteer your time for the Museum festival?

A: I spend the majority of my days being a magician known as the Wacky Wizard, doing performances for groups. Otherwise, I am designing and building instruments. I volunteer my time for the Museum’s festival because you guys are so nice to me.

Q: That is awesome! We enjoy having you as part of our Museum community, so I am glad that you enjoy it as well. Now, what inspired you to become a luthier?

A: Building instruments started off as a hobby. I went to go buy a lute, as I was a member of the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) but you can’t buy them, so I made one. The research and everything that goes with building instruments was so much fun that I just got hooked.

Q: So you took a little bit of inspiration and ran with it?

A: Yeah, you’re building something and you are wondering what it is going to sound like and you don’t get to find out until it is done, and even then you don’t know if it is right or not, but hopefully very close since the thing you’re making probably hasn’t made a sound for 500 years.

Q: Wow that is very inspiring! Do you feel like you are gaining more insight and interacting more closely with the history of the instruments as you go through all the steps needed to make an instrument?

A: Yes, it makes you feel like you are living the history. All my electric tools though, I am sure they didn’t have that! But when you look at the pictographs and stuff of luthiers shops, and I don’t know if you have seen anything like that on the internet, but they have lathes that run off big mill stones with some poor guy out there turning them, which powers the lathe. And when you start seeing all kinds of pictures like that your mind goes nuts.

Q: That is very fascinating and I will be checking that out later! It is cool to see how technology has progressed from the Middle Ages to the present day. So, if you could choose a favourite part of what you do, whether it is playing the instruments or making them, what would it be?

A: Making them definitely, or discovering the next one. Whenever anyone asks me what my favourite is, it is either the one I am making or the next one that I will be starting on. Even when I am focusing on making one specific instrument, my mind is usually on the next one.

Q: Now, I want to ask almost the same question again, but this time have it apply to the medieval festival:  what is your favourite part of it? The performing, interacting with people, talking about the instruments…

A: I would say talking to people about it after the show when people come up with questions.

Q: That is great as one of the things that you are here to do is to help educate people on instruments and music that they may know little, or even nothing, about.

Weldon Gray and Festival Participant
A: Yes it is amazing how little people know about this. For instance, I made an oud and assumed everyone in the Middle East (from where it originated) knew what it was. However, with all of the religious and political strife occurring at the moment, they have forgotten parts of their own history. I ended up talking to some people who were basically refugees from Iran and Iraq, so I brought out the oud, which they had in fact heard about it, but they have never seen one, which really shocked me.

Q: Wow, that is really incredible, but it’s good that you were able to share that with them! Now, to switch topics for a moment, what do you see in your future as a luthier?

A: Honestly, I don’t really think about the future, except for my next project which is a Prima Balalaika. I sold my last one and have been kicking myself ever since. I only build one instrument at a time, and cannot concentrate on anything else until that one is finished.

Q: Well I am excited to see and hear your newest instrument once it’s complete! I also know that you currently have a museum in your house, known to us as the Medieval Instrument Museum to display all of the instruments you have made and still have. How many instruments would you say you have built, whether it be for yourself or for others that have instruments commissioned?

A: Yes, I designed my museum to display my instruments for family and friends to come and enjoy them. And I don’t know how many I have made in total, as I receive a number of commissions, but I do know that I have sold at least 20 and have another 20 instruments displayed in my house. Alice, my wife, says that building instruments started as a hobby but became an obsession, as can be seen by our own collection of instruments.

Q: Well I would like to say that having seen most of the instruments that you have made, I am very impressed that it only started as a hobby! And for my final question, I would like to know if there is anything else that you are looking forward to for the festival.

A: Well it will be interesting as this is my new group’s debut performance, Miz Weaver & the Ragamuffins’. Miz Weaver teaches her music students medieval music, and actually was at the Euphonia reception where I first performed for the Museum of Antiquities. A few years later she came to talk to me about medieval music, and it seemed to click, as she has so many great ideas and I have so many instruments.

Q: Well I am excited for all of your performances! They have always been popular with the community members that attend the festival. Thank you for taking time out of your day to meet with me and discuss what you do.

Weldon’s, and his groups performances will be taking place in the early afternoon and it will be an excellent start to fantastic fun filled day. Don’t miss their exciting performance that will take place the next day on September 27th at the Roxy Theatre in Saskatoon. For more information about Weldon Gray and the instruments he makes, check out his website Graylore Lutes at

Monday, 31 August 2015

The Prairie Paladin Medieval Market and Faire Spotlight: Scottish Country Dancers

With the Prairie Paladin Medieval Market and Faire fast approaching, the staff and volunteers of the Museum of Antiquities would like to acknowledge some of the groups that have made the medieval festival wildly successful. Throughout the coming weeks before the festival, the Museum will be posting interviews done with these groups, allowing our readers to understand better the different parts of the festival.

Our first interview was with Diane Davis, the Demo Coordinator for the Saskatoon Scottish Country Dancers. Having sent Diane a list of questions she sent me back her answers to help us at the Museum, and the wider community, understand better what her group is all about.

Q: Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions Diane. The first thing I would like to know is what your position within your group is and how long have you been involved?

A: I am the Demo Coordinator for the Saskatoon Scottish Country Dance Demonstration Team and have been dancing with the Saskatoon club for 5 years. Prior to that I danced in New Zealand for 15 years. The group is part of an international organization with clubs all over the world.

Q: That is fantastic! What inspired you to join the Scottish Country Dancers, both in New Zealand and in Saskatoon?

A: I originally started dancing in New Zealand as a social outlet and for an activity that would keep me fit. I was a total beginner and was very much encouraged by the club members. All clubs provide trained teachers to help in the process of learning steps and patterns. What is exceptional is that in any clubs that I have been a part of, all members are very kind and patient in helping beginner dancers to feel confident. I discovered in the process that I really enjoyed dancing, so when I came to Saskatoon, one of the first things I did was look for a Scottish Country Dance club. It also provided me with a way to meet new people when I was a newcomer. I have to say I was welcomed with open arms and I have never looked back.

Q: What a journey you have been on! It is amazing that you were able to find another club within this international organization that welcomed you so warmly that you decided to become the Demo Coordinator for Saskatoon’s club, which leads me to my next question: what is your day time job and what motivates you to volunteer your time to the club?

A: I am mostly retired but I’m currently working as an office temp from time to time. As a volunteer, I dance with the Scottish Country Dance Club and with the Demo Team because I love to dance. I believe that is true for the whole Demo team. It also provides a social network of like-minded people from all walks of life. The Demo team in particular hopes to demonstrate that anyone can join and learn. We have qualified teachers to help the beginners, as I have already described. We especially want to show how much fun it is and to promote Scottish Country Dancing as an enjoyable and social way to keep fit and to meet new people.

Q: The motivation of being around like-minded people, combined with doing something that you are very passionate for, is something that I find is a common trait of community members like yourself who strive to help and encourage people to pursue their passion. This is one of the reasons why we, at the Museum, are glad that you have decided to be part of our Prairie Paladin Medieval Market and Faire, as you bring both your passion for dance and your dance-style’s history onto the stage. Do you find that you gain more insight and become more connected to the history of Scottish country dancing? If so, could you please describe an aspect of that insight?

A: When we learn dances, we always hear the origin of the dance and perhaps the idea that sparked the dance in the first place. Often dances have been written for a person or event or particular place. For the medieval festival in particular, we look at the oldest dances in our Scottish heritage and learn how the old dances differed from today. It makes an interesting contrast to newer devised dances. Sometimes the style of fashions in the day dictated why certain moves were made. For instance, because ladies in the very early days wore court shoes, they couldn’t bend their toes very much so we curtsey to accommodate a flat soled shoe.

Q: How fascinating! It is great to see how the historical impact on the Scottish dance style is still understood today and can be shared with those who know very little, if any, about it. One of our goal’s for this medieval festival is to show how the past still impacts the present, and your group is a fantastic example of that. Now, I only have a few questions left, each with a two part answer. The first thing is out of all the amazing things you described, what is your favourite part of being involved with your group and what do you see in the Saskatoon’s Scottish Country Dance club’s future?

A: The dancing is my favourite part!! Being on the demo team means I get to do more dancing. And of course our aim is to ensure that Scottish dancing is an ongoing activity for anyone who is interested. To this end, we have an open house on Wednesday September 9th at St. Marks Hall, 1406 8th Avenue North at 7:00 p.m. Anyone is welcome to come for a free night to try out Scottish Country Dancing. No partners are required and there is no age limit. We have a member still dancing in his nineties.

Q: I was able to see your group perform at the Scottish pavilion at Folkfest this year, and I definitely understand the appeal of dancing, as I used to do multiple dance styles myself. And if the attention and cheering your group received at Folkfest shows anything, it’s that people have the same desire to keep their heritage alive. Now my final question for you is: what is your favourite part of being involved with the Museum’s medieval festival, and what would you like to see in its future?

A: Being a part of the festival’s atmosphere and activities is great. Also, we do research into our oldest dances and have an opportunity to learn about and to do dances that are not done in clubs so much anymore. However it is developed and matures, I hope our Scottish Country Dance Demo Team will continue to be included in the festival’s plans.

Scottish Country Dance 2015 Demonstration Team
This will be the Scottish Country Dancing Demo Team’s second year participating in the festival, and the Museum is glad they are able to join us again in expanding the community’s knowledge and awareness of the impact our heritage has on us in the present and in the future. The Demo team will be performing at the festival twice in the afternoon, and trust me, it’s something you don’t want to miss!

By: Helanna Miazga

Monday, 17 August 2015

The Prairie Paladin Medieval Market and Faire

The Museum of Antiquities at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) will host its annual Prairie Paladin Medieval Market and Faire on Saturday, September 26th, 2015.

As part of the national Culture Days initiative, the Museum of Antiquities is hosting its third annual medieval festival from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm in he Bowl and at Nobel Plaza on the U of S campus. The public will be able to enjoy combat demonstrations, a medieval market, musical and dance performances, games and children’s activities. The event will be run by Museum volunteers and community groups including the Society for Creative Anachronism, the Nordhere Viking Living History Re-Enactors, the Saskatoon Historical Fencing Society and the Saskatchewan Archaeological Society.

The museum’s previous festivals known as Weapons and Warriors and Return of the Kynge sparked an interest in the community, which led to the creation of The Prairie Paladin Medieval Market and Faire in 2014, which received more than 700 visitors.

“We are so happy to see how much the festival has grown in such a relatively short time since its inception,” said Courtney Tuck, the former event co-ordinator of the festival. “It is always so exciting to see so many members of the local community coming out, getting involved and engaging with history.”

This family-friendly medieval festival is the only one of its kind in Saskatchewan, making it a unique experience for local community members who are unable to travel long distances to other medieval festivals in Canada and the United States. The museum’s goal is to create a medieval festival that will generate awareness of past cultures that still influence the world today, including not only medieval European culture, but also the First Nations cultures of Saskatchewan.
The Museum of Antiquities, located in the Peter MacKinnon Building at the U of S, houses art work from the ancient Near East, Greece, Rome, and the medieval world. The museum’s collection contains both original artifacts and replicas.

For more information, contact:
Helanna Miazga, Museum of Antiquities
Room 116 Peter MacKinnon Building, 107 Administration Place
University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK S7N 5A2
(306) 966-7818

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Volunteers and the Vibrant Museum

This coming Friday March 20, 2015 the Museum of Antiquities will be hosting its annual volunteer appreciation event.  The event, which includes a wine and cheese reception, is held not only to acknowledge and thank the volunteers for the hundreds of hours they put in at the Museum every year, but also to celebrate their many successes gained through the experience and knowledge obtained while at the Museum.

As many of you know, the Museum has been around for some forty years now.  In some ways, the Museum and its collections had humble and lonely beginnings.  The collection was homeless for its first few years and had a keeper who wanted to reserve the collection for academic eyes only, as well as librarians who felt the nude statues should be covered up with fig leaves, or better yet locked away behind closed doors.  Fortunately in the early 1980s, a new permanent home for the collection was found in the Murray Library along with a new curator, Ms. Catherine Gunderson, which led to birth of the Museum’s volunteer program.  The first volunteer was Brian Hubner, a Master’s student in the Department of History.  Since then the program has grown from a few volunteers to a substantial 15-25 volunteers at any given time.  The majority of these volunteers are University of Saskatchewan students, but there are also several high school students and members of the general public.  The volunteers receive training and provide support in many areas of our Museum’s day-to-day operations including collections management and research, exhibit design, and educational and outreach programming.  Since the program began more than 125 people have served as volunteers of the Museum.

I became acting director and then full-time director of the Museum of Antiquities starting in 2008.   While my job as director includes many facets such as teaching, curating, research and administration, the part of my job that I find most fulfilling and rewarding is leading the Museum’s wonderful team of volunteers.   The volunteers have heard me say this many times before, but I WILL say it again, and again, and again: the Museum would not be as successful as it is without the help of its many volunteers.  As the only full-time staff person at the Museum there is no way that I alone could plan, organize and especially execute all of the programming that the Museum does.  The volunteers, who come from a wide range of academic backgrounds (Classics, History, and Education to name a few), have played a key role in helping the Museum to do all the things that the “Big Guys” do, such as special exhibits, conservation and preservation of artifacts, children’s summer camps, programs for elementary and high school classrooms, and cultural and community outreach initiatives.  And the list most certainly goes on.  I know I am blowing the Museum’s collective horn here, but one of the programmers from the Western Development Museum, arguably the largest museum in Saskatoon, considers the Museum of Antiquities to be one of Saskatoon’s “Big Three” museums, not because of its size, but because of the impact on the community of everything we are able to do.  None of this would be possible without the help of the volunteers.

Another thing that I am very proud of and willing to shout out from the rooftops is the success our volunteers have had once they leave the Museum.  The experience the students gain while volunteering and working here as student staff also has a significant impact.  I too was a volunteer of the Museum of Antiquities while doing my undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Saskatchewan.  I credit my Museum experience with helping me to achieve several professional successes including my PhD in Classical Archaeology from the University of Alberta, as well as being selected for the prestigious American Numismatic Society Summer Graduate Student Seminar in 2004.  One of the curators who taught me at the seminar said my Museum experience played a key role in my being selected.  Other former student volunteers have also done very well professionally, including Anneka Richer, manager of the Children’s Discovery Museum in Saskatoon, Carla Watson, manager of Admiralty House Communications Museum in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland, and Sarah Vela, IT specialist and information architect at the University of Waterloo.  The list of Museum success stories is long and I wish I could list them all here, but I look forward to seeing the list grow!  Many students have said to me that the Museum played an integral part in their success.

This being my first blog I don’t want to go on and on, even though I have many wonderful stories to tell about our volunteers.  I look forward to taking the opportunity thank our volunteers formally this coming Friday.  And I am sure I will have much to blog about them in the years to come!

By: Dr. Tracene Harvey

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

My Fascination With Hannibal And Napoleon

In 1989 the Museum of Antiquities received a beautiful bronze bust from Judge John C. Currelly of Port Hope, Ontario. At this time, the true identity of the bust was unknown, and the general consensus was that it was a French baroque bronze portrait of the Emperor Hadrian. However research done by the previous Museum Director Catherine Gunderson and Professor Paul Hamilton (Department of Art and Art History) revealed the portrait to be Hannibal, accomplished Carthaginian general and nemesis to the Roman Republic during the Second Punic War (218-201 BCE). Moreover, this sculpture is a 17th century CE French original crafted in the workshop of Francois Girardon (1628-1715). Girardon is best known for his position as a sculptor for King Louis XIV of France and primary contributor to the abundant artwork at the Palace of Versailles. Francois Souchal, Professor of Art History at the Paris West University Nanterre La Défense in France (now retired), a noted authority on 17th and 18th century French sculpture, verified the work as being a product of either Girardon himself or his protégé, Sebastien Slodtz (1655-1726), claiming the bust is “of great quality and certain authenticity.” The bust is unique to the Museum since no other casting of it exists. It appears in a set of engravings entitled La Galerie de Girardon by Nicolas Chevalier published in the 18th century.
Original bronze bust of Hannibal

While we know who the sculpture represents and who made it, an air of mystery had come with the bust when it was acquired. During the first round of research in the late 80s and early 90s, a secondary source mentioned that Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) owned a bronze bust of Hannibal. This initial research led to my interest and my follow up on the connection to Napoleon.
Napoleon Crossing the Great St. Bernard Pass
In August of 2014 we found evidence in the The Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte, the Court of the First Empire by Baron Claude Francois Meneval (1778-1850) that Napoleon did in fact own a bronze bust of Hannibal, one of his military idols. Meneval was Napoleon’s private secretary from 1802-1813. In his memoir of Napoleon, Meneval describes the Chateau de Saint Cloud which was used by Bonaparte as a seat of power after 1804, and states that in Napoleon’s study there:
“his [Napoleon’s] usual place was on a settee, covered with green taffeta,
which stood near the mantelpiece, on which were two fine bronze busts of Scipio and Hannibal.” (pg. 174, volume 1)

           I believe that the bronze bust of Hannibal mentioned in the memoirs had to have been close to contemporary with Napoleon as Meneval did not call the busts of Scipio and Hannibal ‘antique’. Meneval makes a distinction in volume one between ancient and contemporary busts:
“the only ornament of the bedroom on the ground floor...was an antique bust of Caesar, which stood on the mantle piece.” (pg. 174)
“This drawing-room was also used for private audiences; it was decorated with a fine portrait of Charles XII [1682-1718].” (pg. 174)

       These few statements have lead me to believe that the bronze bust of Hannibal mentioned in the memoirs had to be contemporary, and since there is only one such piece created in the 17th century (which we have), ours must be the one Meneval is describing.

St. Cloud Chateau
As a next step, I feel that it is necessary to study the journey the bust took to arrive at the Museum of Antiquities all the way from Girardon’s 17th century workshop via the Chateau de Saint Cloud, to Edward Berwind’s New York residence (previous owner of the bust), and  to a New York auction house. I am continuing my research to find the links between these different places so that we can have a complete provenance of this bust.

This discovery shows the importance of the Museum of Antiquities in the academic and scholarly world, and the impact it can have on the wider community. The Museum can offer unique research opportunities for students and academics, which can be seen through the research done on this bust. With the collection of original artifacts growing, there is more potential for our knowledge of the past to grow and to share it with the world.

By: Helanna Miazga 

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Welcome To Our Blog!

Welcome to the Museum of Antiquities’ new blog! This is our inaugural post. Thank you for checking us out!
As 2014 has now come to a close, we look back at the year in which the Museum’s collection  turned 40.  We take the opportunity to reflect on the Museum’s history and think about what we will strive toward in the future. 
We celebrated our 40th anniversary on October 16th, 2014 with a presentation in Convocation Hall and a reception in the Museum’s gallery.  Brent Nelson, Tracene Harvey, Dean Peter Stoicheff and President Gordon Barnhart spoke about the history of the Museum and its impact on the University, the students who have passed through the volunteer program, as well as the world of cast collections. We also unveiled our new acquisition: a replica bust of the Augustus Bevilacqua from the Atelier Moulages du Louvre workshop, which we were able to purchase thanks to the generosity of donors and supporters. The event was well attended and enjoyed by all.

          The Museum of Antiquities’ collection was formed in 1974 thanks to the Museum’s founders Michael Swan and Nicholas Gyenes, both professors at the University of Saskatchewan.  The collection began as a group of full-scale replicas of Greek Sculpture, which were purchased from the Atelier de Moulages du Louvre.  The collection found a permanent home in 1981 in the Murray Library and the Museum of Antiquities was born.  Thanks to the generosity of donors, the Museum’s collection has grown over the years to include both replica and original sculptures and artifacts.  The Museum’s collection outgrew its space in the Murray Library and in 2005, the Museum moved into the current gallery space in the College Building, recently renamed the Peter MacKinnon
           The last few years at the Museum of Antiquities have seen a considerable amount of growth in many aspects.  Our visitor numbers have increased on average by 2,000 people every year since 2011.  Our Living History Summer Camps for kids has grown, both in weeks offered and in participants.  We have had so much great feedback from the community regarding our existing programming that we decided to branch out and create more programming, which expands to reach new facets of our local community. We now have monthly drop-in craft and story programs for kids and our annual medieval festival for Culture Days has been very popular. We are reaching out to our on-campus community as well, developing workshops and tours that will expand on the learning done in the classroom.  Follow this blog for more updates on our programming!
           So what does the future hold for the Museum of Antiquities?  We hope to take all of the momentum we’ve been building up over these past few years and keep moving forward! With growing interest and participation from the on-campus community, as well as the community at large we plan on continuing to bring the same exciting take on ancient and medieval history you all know and love. Stay tuned for more events, activities, tours, research and exciting new exhibits to come.  The future for the Museum of Antiquities can be as bright as we want it to be, so keep an eye on us and what we have on offer in the years to come!
 - Blog post by Courtney Tuck