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Women of Aspenland: Images from central Alberta See more of the Virtual Museum of Canada
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“Official” history all too frequently ignores the contribution of women. While the notion of the “hand that rocked the cradle ruling the world” is often cited, with respect to museum collections, the contextual material around the lives of girls and women is not generally collected. Domestic artifacts comprise a huge volume of community museum collections but the women who used them and gave them the patina of age are nowhere described or felt. The Swedish concept of “home blindness”—that sense that we are too close to those things that immediately surround us so that we do not appreciate them—also applies to the impact of women on community development and identity.

Where women espouse “male” roles, as politicians and policy makers, they are captured in community histories. But all of those “nameless” and “faceless” women who are brides, mothers, sisters, aunts, teachers, nurses—all of those ways in which women function in communities—are frequently missing from the pages of history. The Women of Aspenland Virtual Exhibit begins to give these women their rightful play and makes them visible so that their stories can help us to understand the larger Canadian story.

The Women of Aspenland Virtual Exhibit presents the profiles of over 170 women. Some are well known, for example, Irene Parlby from Alix. She was a Cabinet minister in Alberta’s United Farmers of Alberta government and was one of five Alberta women (the Famous 5) who pressed the "Persons" Case of 1929, clearing the way for the appointment of women to the Canadian Senate. Others were involved in seemingly mundane activities and, while neither rich, nor famous, they touched the lives of many. An example is Lily Blackhurst of Sundre, who served as camp mother for youth excursions to a nearby lake, was a member of the local Women’s Institute, and made costumes for the annual Christmas school concert.

This section of the Women of Aspenland Virtual Exhibit draws on the research project Who We Are:  The Women of Aspenland begun in 1995 by 11 members of the Central Alberta Regional Museums Network.  They set out to document the lives of local women through images and story. The women were drawn from all walks of life—pioneer homemakers, midwives and caregivers, farm women, career and business women—all contributed to their communities.

Explore the lives of these central Alberta women and be prepared to have your assumptions of the great moments and events of Albertan and Canadian history challenged.

Search by Name—If you know the names of the women you want to find out more about, simply scroll down the alphabetical listing.

Search by Community—If you want to discover which community in Central Alberta has participated in the project and the women whose lives they have documented, simply scroll down the alphabetical listing.

 

 

 

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