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Alberta’s heritage comes alive: Meet interesting people and events as colourful past goes on Internet
Edmonton Journal, November 14th, 2000
By Karen Unland
(Copyright Southam Publications Inc.)
EDMONTON - Flipping through an outdated encyclopedia to find out about Alberta's past is history, say the creators of two new Web sites.
Now, students in a hurry to flesh out an essay and teachers eager to bring the olden days to life can turn to Alberta Heritage Online (www.albertaheritage.net) and Alberta: How the West was Young (www.abheritage.ca/alberta), said Morris Flewwelling, chairperson of the Heritage Community Foundation.
The sites were officially launched Monday, but they've already been getting a workout, he said.
"We've found the hits are frequent and they're of very long duration," Flewwelling said. "For Web people, that's what they want to see. They want to see the people coming and they want to see the people stay."
Putting Alberta's history on line is a great idea, said Jessica Boyd, a Grade 11 student and history buff at Strathcona high school. "I don't spend my time looking for chat rooms," she said. "I spend my time looking for interesting points in history."
Textbooks aren't obsolete, she said, but the Internet can offer so much more.
"That's the thing we're always looking for in our essays -- more details," said Boyd, whose industrial archeology club is featured on the Alberta Heritage site for a project on the Rossdale power plant.
The Internet also includes a lot of bogus information, Flewwelling noted. Too often, Web sites are "lopsided, incomplete, biased or downright false, and you have no way of knowing that," he said.
But the information on these Web sites comes from Alberta's museums and other authoritative sources, he said.
It also has the approval of Alberta's provincial historian, Michael Payne. The information on the sites isn't unique, "but it is readily accessible to people," he said.
He's also happy the sites are delving into aboriginal history, "to help to undermine the false impression that Alberta is a new society, that we have nothing old here."
History is hip these days, with Canada: A People's History on the CBC and frequent hand-wringing from the Dominion Institute about our collective ignorance. Payne said he's not as pessimistic as some historians about Canadians' interest in their own history, but occasional panic brings about useful projects such as the Web sites launched Monday.
"I don't think it's a crisis, but it is something that has to come up periodically," he said.
ALBERTA'S HERITAGE ON LINE