“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
• Search by Name—If you know the names of the
women you want to find out more about, simply scroll down the alphabetical
• Search by Community—If you want to
which community in Central Alberta has participated in the project and the
women whose lives they have documented, simply scroll down the alphabetical