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Federal grant money allows North Hastings Heritage Museum to continue gathering seniors stories

Thanks to the New Horizons for Seniors Federal Grant, the North Hastings Heritage Museum is able to continue to gather local history.

The $23,333 grant is designed to help alleviate the loneliness and isolation that seniors have experienced, especially with the lockdowns. Mary Kavanagh, Board Chair of the Museum, says their project of gathering the stories of seniors does just that. The Museum recruits volunteers to go out into the community and help record the stories of senior’s first-hand accounts of local history.

When restrictions on gathering are eased, volunteers will head out into the community to visit seniors and help them record video messages telling about their experiences. Kavanagh says that this will give the project a window into the past, as these seniors will be recalling stories that their family told them, reaching all the way back to the early 1800s. Without this grant, those stories, told by the people who lived them, will be lost.

The New Horizon Grant has helped out the museum before. Kavanagh says they have already published a number of books about the experiences of residents in North Hastings. The first two volumes focused on the women of North Hastings and shared their experiences. During the writing of this book, Museum volunteers found that many of the stories came from these seniors’ childhoods. The first volume of their childhood stories was published with the help of the grant, and a second one was funded entirely by the museum. The new grant money will go towards publishing a third volume.

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While they have nearly 75 volunteers ready to go, Kavanagh says that residents of North Hastings play a key role in preserving their history. Often residents will clean out old photographs found in storage, and the Museum can use those to supplement the history they have accumulated so far.

Kavanagh wants the public to know about the Museum so that if they find anything from the past, they can send it off to become part of the area’s history. Recordings, photographs or writings can be delivered via a curbside pickup option, and volunteers are often around to make sure it is entered into the archives.

The preservation of North Hastings History, from Algonquin, pioneer, early lumber days, up to the modern era, has been the mission of the North Hastings Heritage Museum.

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