The ordinary and the extraordinary lives of southern Albertans (1880-1970), in all their ethnic diversity, are captured in this collection:
- their lives at home (from the rural sod shack to the urban mansion);
- at work (from the ranch and the oil fields to the factory and office);
- at play (from childhood through adulthood); and
- in social groups (from worship to celebrations).
Glenbow's community history collections also house important collections from the Doukhobor and Hutterite communities, the Alberta ceramic industry (Medalta pottery), and the Calgary Stampede. It also includes special collections such as material from the Arctic search for Sir John Franklin and exquisite objects crafted for the nineteenth century Russian Court.
Work and Industry
Alberta's rich natural resources — oil, agricultural land, incredible scenery, and more have provided work for Albertans for over a century. This collection contains a selection of the tools and equipment used to make a living on the ranch and farm, the railway, the coal mine, the oil rig, the artist's studio, the business office, and much more.
Leisure and Play
This collection reflects the wide variety of ways that Albertans relax and play. Handmade toys, elegant dolls, and whimsical games share space with equipment for mountaineering, team sports, and rodeo — something to fit almost everyone's sense of self and play.
The things Albertans needed every day are found in this area of the collection. Clothing (from a 1870s boy's dress to 1970s hot pants), personal accessories (from elegant cigarette holders to 1990s teenager's jewellery), furniture and furnishings (from specialized baby furniture to imaginative quilts and coverlets) — almost everything can be found in this collection, including the kitchen sink.
Community and Ceremonial Life
The Community Life collection features major social institutions serving the West (government and mainstream politics, education, religion, and support organizations), and activist groups, causes, and movements, including western alienation, women's rights, minority rights, politics, labour, and the environment. The ceremonial life collection reflects forms of ritual and ceremony, including rites of passage marking births, weddings, funerals, religious observances, festive celebrations, fraternal society regalia, and cultural, social, and political events.
This collection reflects immigration and ethnicity, cultural identity, tradition and change in culturally diverse Alberta and the West. Clothing and objects used to make music, furnish homes, prepare food, raise children, celebrate events, and more are associated with over 50 ethnic, religious, language and cultural communities from Europe, Asia, British Isles, and elsewhere in North America. Especially strong are the Hutterite and Doukhobor collections.
International collections are drawn from the arts and folk traditions of Europe and Asia, highlighting exquisite Eastern European and Chinese costumes and textiles, and eclectic creations by master crafts persons in ceramic, metal, paper, and wood. Arctic exploration and the search for Franklin are featured in objects recovered from McClintock's and other nineteenth century cache sites. Numismatics features coinage and paper currency of colonial and post-confederation Canada and the Commonwealth and Canadian medallic arts.
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