Park House Museum

Park House Museum to present exhibit highlighting women’s expanding role in Canada

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Park House Museum is celebrating Canada 150 by looking a women’s roles over the past 150 years.

The Park House’s latest exhibit – “Her Story: 150 Years of Women in Canada – Fashion, Politics, and Gender Roles” – will open May 26, much earlier than anticipated as July 1 was the original target date. Curator Stephanie Pouget-Papak said this is an exhibit she has looked forward to presenting.

“We have a fabulous collection of clothing at the museum,” said Pouget-Papak. “It was a matter of finding a storyline for it.”

With 2017 being Canada’s 150th birthday, Pouget-Papak decided to “think outside the box” and examine the changing roles of women over the last 150 years. There are several portions to the exhibit, which people can walk and read through on the upper floor of the museum, with one being “Votes for Women.” That area talks about women’s roles in politics and elections with Pouget-Papak hoping to add a list of all women that served on town council.

There is also an area on women’s roles in wartime, with Pouget-Papak stating war helped become a “vehicle that moved women forward.” There is a “nursing sister” dress featured as part of that section.

The exhibit also looks at women’s roles in education, how they were educated for specific professions and their role in the labour force. While women were sent home from the factories after World War I, she said many stayed employed in factories after World War II and the exhibit includes a photo from the former Alymer Canning Factory.

Park House Museum curator Stephanie Pouget-Papak adjusts a dress on a mannequin in preparation for the museum’s new women’s exhibit.

Park House Museum curator Stephanie Pouget-Papak adjusts a dress on a mannequin in preparation for the museum’s new women’s exhibit.

Another component of the exhibit features the rise of consumerism, which Pouget-Papak said “exploded in the 20th Century.” There is another portion devoted to how film influenced fashion with another portion being for children. The children’s portion allows them to dress up and be themselves as Pouget-Papak stated, “it doesn’t matter what you look like, you are strong and beautiful.”

There will also be an opportunity to play “history detective” as questions will be posed that either can be answered in the story boards or by looking up the information.

The Park House Museum has an intern from the University of Windsor and that enabled the museum to get the exhibit open earlier. A preview reception will be held May 19 with a limited number of spots available. The preview reception costs $5 to attend and those interested in attending are asked to reserve their spot in advance.

“It’s like Christmas Day for me when an exhibit finally opens,” said Pouget-Papak.

Pouget-Papak added she has a five-year plan for programming with the 2018 exhibit to have an archaeological theme.

“Her Story: 150 Years of Women in Canada – Fashion, Politics, and Gender Roles” will run through Oct. 6. Operating hours are Monday-Friday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. in May and June, seven days per week from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. in July and August, with hours returning to 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday in September and October. Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for seniors, $2.50 for children over four and children under four being free.

Pouget-Papak also stated she is working on a program geared to Grade 8 students on women’s roles for when school groups tour the museum.

The Park House is also hiring seven students as the museum has received grant funding to afford the hiring. Those interested can call the Park House Museum at 519-736-2511 or visit www.parkhousemuseum.com. Their Facebook page is www.facebook.com/ParkHouseAmherstburg and their Twitter address is @parkhousemuseum.

River Lights says thanks to Park House with donation

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Park House Museum has been an active partner in this year’s River Lights Winter Festival and the latter is now saying thanks.

River Lights co-ordinator Sarah Van Grinsven presented a cheque for $500 to Park House curator Stephanie Pouget-Papak last Friday morning. Van Grinsven explained the donation was due to the fact the Park House has worked with River Lights on such events as the Holiday House Tours.

“Every year, the house tours committee chooses a community based organization,” said Van Grinsven. “We choose an association that could benefit from the exposure.”

With three other homes on the Holiday House Tours being in the vicinity of the Park House Museum, the museum was chosen to be the “tea room” on this year’s tour.

River Lights co-ordinator Sarah Van Grinsven (left) presents a $500 cheque to Park House Museum curator Sarah Van Grinsven.

River Lights co-ordinator Sarah Van Grinsven (left) presents a $500 cheque to Park House Museum curator Stephanie Pouget-Papak.

“This year, we chose the Park House, which was perfect,” said Van Grinsven.

Pouget-Papak said the money will be put back into the programming the Park House Museum offers. They currently still offer a Victorian Christmas exhibit with students that pass through the museum getting lessons from the Ontario curriculum, she added. A fur trade exhibit is planned for the spring, Pouget-Papak added.

The River Lights’ Gingerbread Warming House closes for the season this Sunday and Van Grinsven said the snow on the ground makes it a better experience.

“The lights look extra fabulous when snow is on the ground,” she said. “We want people to take advantage of it.”
The Park House closes for the season Dec. 21 though is open by appointment in January and February.

“Working with River Lights has been great,” said Pouget-Papak. “We’re building partnerships to make our community stronger.”

Van Grinsven agreed that the partnership has been a good one, adding the Park House was also a part of River Lights’ “Downtown Holiday Nights” at the beginning of this year’s festival.

About 500 from Windsor-Essex County attend Holiday House Tours

 

By Ron Giofu

 

People from Amherstburg and surrounding municipalities streamed through the ten houses that were decorated and on display for the Holiday House Tours.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo snaps a photo on his phone of some of the decorations at the Bondy House Bed & Breakfast. DiCarlo and wife Laura were two of the roughly 500 people that toured the ten locations that were decorated for Christmas.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo snaps a photo on his phone of some of the decorations at the Bondy House Bed & Breakfast. DiCarlo and wife Laura were two of the roughly 500 people that toured the ten locations that were decorated for Christmas.

The house tours, a part of the ongoing River Lights Winter Festival, saw ten houses on display with nine of them being private homes and the tenth being the Park House Museum. Monica Bunde, who helped co-ordinate the tours and was a decorator of one of the homes, said the Park House was the “tea room” stop on the tour with the other homes being clustered around the municipality.

The homes were decorated either by local businesses, by decorators or the homeowners themselves.

“We’ve expanded the footprint this year,” said Bunde. “We’ve expanded outside of the downtown core so people get the feel for all of Amherstburg.”

The homes were concentrated in different areas of the town with four, counting the Park House, being within walking distance in the Dalhousie St./Rankin Ave. area, three more within Amherst Pointe, one at the corner of Alma and Victoria St. S. and the other two in the former Anderdon Township.

Debbie Scott and Suzanne Shepley volunteered at the home on Front Road South.

Debbie Scott and Suzanne Shepley volunteered at the home on Front Road South.

“It made it easier,” explained Bunde. “You can park and walk to see three or four homes then go to the next section.”

Bunde said they not only wanted visitors to see the homes themselves, but visit the boutiques and restaurants in Amherstburg as well.

“People have been booking lunch or dinner,” added Anne Rota, the town’s manager of tourism and culture. “It’s a package. It’s not just looking at the homes. It’s an economic stimulus for the town.”

Homes that were considered somewhat “iconic” were featured on this year’s Holiday House Tour. Bunde said many of the homes have been the subject of people wondering what they looked like on the inside and the house tours gave people that glimpse.

A Park Ave. home was decorated on two floors, with the photo being taken on an upper floor.

A Park Ave. home was decorated on two floors, with the photo being taken on an upper floor.

Not only did people willingly open their homes this year, but Rota said there are already six requests from homeowners to be on the Holiday House Tours in 2017. She remarked there could soon be a waiting list for homes.

Rota added that early estimates had about 50 per cent of the attendees be from outside of Amherstburg as a lot of people from the Windsor-Essex County area converged on the town for the tours.

Carolyn Davies and Merv Richards had their home, the Bondy House Bed & Breakfast, as one of the stops on the tour. Davies, the current president of the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC), agreed that it was a great event that brought hundreds of people to town. She said not only did it bring the people, but it strengthened the local economy in the process.

“It’s an event, it’s an experience,” added Bunde. “It’s for everyone.”

It is estimated that 500 people turned out for this year’s Holiday House Tours.

History haunts Park House Museum

 

By Jonathan Martin

The third annual Park House Museum All Hallows Eve festival is haunting the riverside.

Park House curator Stephanie Pouget-Papak said in addition to last year’s fare, the museum has brought in more childrens’ activities, a fortune teller, doughnuts and cider.

The second floor is closed to the public due to sightings of a spirit floating around the staircase. There is no indication the ghost bears any malicious intent, but Pouget-Papak believes it’s best not to bother the phantom.

And besides, she says the real focus should be on the history.

Park House curator Stephanie Pouget-Papak poses for a photo in the Park House's parlor in Amherstburg on Sunday, October 23, 2016.   The Park House is hosting its third annual All Hallows Eve Festival.

Park House curator Stephanie Pouget-Papak poses for a photo in the Park House’s parlor in Amherstburg on Sunday, October 23, 2016.
The Park House is hosting its third annual All Hallows Eve Festival.

“I think sometimes history gets a bad rap for being boring,” she said. “But when you get into the idea of public history, when you can see it and feel it and interact with it, it becomes a lot more fun than we’re used to.”

In the museum’s dining room, a Halloween party in the style of the 1920s is ready for costumed guests. In the parlor, mirrors are covered and a corpse is laid out on a couch in preparation for a wake.

Warm autumn scents waft out of the kitchen, where Ruth Vuk and Melissa Bonifazi are preparing seasonal food.

Outside, John Vuk digs a grave in the garden while Jason Papak, Jennifer Walker and Adam Walker alternate between brewing coffee on an open fire and teaching children to make candles by hand.

“I really love Halloween,” Pouget-Papak said, and with a chuckle, added, “Sometimes, I think I like it more than Christmas.”

 

Park House takes people back to the 1920’s at “Gatsby Gala”

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Park House Museum has featured a 1920’s exhibit all summer and they capped the season with the “Gatsby Gala.”

The fundraising dinner was held Saturday night at the Verdi Club where people dressed in 1920’s attire and even learned the Charleston when it was time to take to the dance floor. Park House Museum curator Stephanie Pouget-Papak said the turnout was around what she expected as nearly 40 attended the dinner with more expected for the dance afterwards.

The Park House Museum hosted its “Gatsby Gala” at the Verdi Club Saturday night. Those who got into the spirit of the 1920’s  included Cathy and Bob Papak.

The Park House Museum hosted its “Gatsby Gala” at the Verdi Club Saturday night. Those who got into the spirit of the 1920’s included Cathy and Bob Papak.

Pouget-Papak said the museum fielded about 250 calls about buying tickets for just the dance portion.

While pleased with the turnout, she added he was more enthused about the fact those in attendance had a good time and got into the occasion.

“When I do events, it’s not about the quantity of people, it’s about the quality,” said Pouget-Papak.

The event also featured a “Most Wanted” area where people could have pictures taken of themselves and put on a “Most Wanted” poster.

The Gatsby Gala provided some exposure from the museum, Pouget-Papak added, and that it attracted more people than last year. She was also pleased that a number of people dressed in period attire this year.

The exhibit itself, located on the second floor of the museum, closes this Friday and Pouget-Papak stated it has received a lot of great reviews. People like the “naughty side of Amherstburg” and there is even an old Chicago Tribune article which blames the prohibition enforcement problems in the 1920’s on Amherstburg.

Chrysta and Monty Walker from Cedar Lake, Indiana enjoy a spin on the dance floor during Saturday night’s “Gatsby Gala” at the Verdi Club. Proceeds raised from the gala benefit the Park House Museum.

Chrysta and Monty Walker from Cedar Lake, Indiana enjoy a spin on the dance floor during Saturday night’s “Gatsby Gala” at the Verdi Club. Proceeds raised from the gala benefit the Park House Museum.

Next year’s exhibit will be about 150 years of women in Amherstburg and Pouget-Papak said that will include the suffrage movement, fashion and politics.

Upcoming events for the rest of this year include Friday evening’s “Music off the Back Porch” fundraiser, which runs from 5:30-7 p.m. weather permitting, featuring Celtic music from the Logsdon Family and Friends. The Park House presents an “All Hallow’s Eve” Festival Oct. 23 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., while candlelight holiday tours will occur Nov. 18-19 from 5-9 p.m. “A Dickens Christmas,” which is their traditional Victorian Christmas, is scheduled for Nov. 27 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.