“Personally, I do not care whether or not women ever sit in the Senate, but we fought for the privilege for them to do so. We sought to establish the personal individuality of women and this decision is the announcement of our victory.
— Henrietta Muir Edwards, 1929
A September visit to the Famous 5 Centre of Canadian Women housed in the Nellie McClung replica home at Heritage Park, Calgary, reminded me of the above statement.
Voting is a privilege I’ve never taken for granted, particularly after travelling in countries where women either had no rights, or their rights were severely curtailed.
Canvassing for my preferred candidate in recent Canadian elections was an eye-opener. Frequently I heard: I don’t vote; my husband deals with this; I know nothing about politics; all politicians are crooked.
It was tough not to do battle with such comments on doorsteps.
Democracy, imperfect though it might be, at least offers an opportunity to publicly defend our (differing) opinions. The Famous 5 Centre reminds us of why five Canadian women successfully fought for their right to be in the Senate, and why their work on our behalf should never be taken lightly.
Today’s increased focus on racial and religious intolerance gave the Anne Frank exhibit even more impact, if such a thing is possible. Like most people my age, the discovery of Anne’s diary after Nazis raided the Frank family Amsterdam hideaway remains a familiar and heart-wrenching story.
Photographs and texts retain their poignancy, horror, and inhumanity. The post-war recording of Anne’s father, Otto Frank, being interviewed still makes listeners weep. As the only surviving member of the family he offers some insight into the story, including his reactions to his daughter’s innermost diarized thoughts during her short teenage years.
Understandably, he simply said, “It took me a long time to read it.”
Anne yearned to be a journalist, so his permission to eventually publish The Diary of Anne Frank fulfilled her dream, even though posthumously.
As stated in the exhibit: This exhibition will challenge visitors to think about concepts of inclusiveness, mutual respect, human rights, and democracy.
Heritage Park, Canada’s largest living history museum site, sits 15 minutes from Calgary and is divided into different segments. For more than one visit an annual pass is worth the investment. The Heritage Town Square and Gasoline Alley (a two-level indoor automobile museum) are open year round. The Historical Village is only open May to October.
We visited the day before my youngest granddaughter’s fourth birthday so she and the family fully indulged in the fun-fair, as well as sailing on the S.S. Moyie, a colourful half-size replica sternwheeler of the gold rush original built in 1898. Had it not been for a Ferris wheel sighting, her preference might have been to spend the day riding the narrow gauge steam train.
For me, I delight in visiting the reclaimed and restored Prairie Synagogue, as well as the replica Strathmore Standard building. The sight and clanking sound of the old linotype machine brings back memories of my first years in journalism.
Newspaper production has come a long way in 50 years!
Gasoline Alley, a year-round indoor attraction, offers auto enthusiasts 1950s automobile eye-candy as well as signage and gas pumps to revive memories of yesteryear. Youngsters also get a chance to test-drive the mini-race track and learn what changing gears really meant.
We ran out of time to fully explore the First Nations Encampment and 1860s Fur Trading Post. No doubt the family will return to rectify that next summer. If you go, check full Heritage Park details at heritagepark.ca.
Ursula Maxwell-Lewis is the founding publisher and managing editor of the Cloverdale Reporter. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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