I am returning today for the last segment of my Canada Day weekend posts, with a return to the Museum of History. The permanent exhibits have had a big overhaul in the last few years, and Canada History Hall is the result. Done in consultation with the museum's architect Douglas Cardinal, the project presents Canadian history from time immemorial to the present day in three distinct galleries. You can see Cardinal's influence in the circular use of the space. It was exceptionally busy that weekend, what with the Prince of Wales officially opening it on Canada Day, and so I chose to come back the following day.
The corridor leading to the entrance is lined with landmarks or activities of Canada, done in a combination of mirrors overlaid with a lighter paint to create each image. This is the Chateau Frontenac, in Quebec City. There are many others.
The three galleries all branch off from a central hub, with a large physical map of Canada laid out on the floor. Rather than cities and roads, the landscape and waters are emphasized here. Hudson Bay is most obvious here, but Lakes Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Nipigon also feature prominently in this view, as does the lakeshore edge of Lake Superior at the lower right.
Going into the first of the galleries, which starts with the First Nations and ends with the transition out of New France, the visitor is met by a large view screen, where the Anishinabe creation story is depicted on screen. Speakers broadcast the tale being told in that First Nations language, while French and English subtitles are seen on the lower part of the screen.
The skull of a bison can be found close by. There is also a model of a buffalo jump set up by it- tribes in the West, even before the time of horses, would corral bison into a stampede towards a cliff as part of their hunt.
The museum's new direction interweaves the story of First Nations people in with the coming of Europeans and throughout Canadian history; before, the story of First Nations peoples seemed to be kept separate to the other parts of the museum. In addition, some of the artifacts here have been replicated from their original versions, which are returned to the people they've come from. It's a shift in priorities from how things used to be, instead working with First Nations peoples.
Within a case around a good sized display are reproductions of artifacts found on a man who lived eight hundred years ago in northern Baffin Island. The museum collaborated with the community around Arctic Bay, near where this man's remains were found, to reconstruct what he looked like and get a sense of his life. Some of his tools were carved with details about his life. After study of the skeleton and the tools had been completed, the man was re-interred with his artifacts in keeping with the traditions of the locals, while the reproductions of his tools and a full sized replica of him stand in the museum.
Here he is. It is thought that he was a man of around forty at the time of his death, a skilled hunter and kayaker whose tools included knives, a bow string tensioner, an ice pick, and a throwing weapon. He has been given a name- Nuvumiutaq. It is based on the place where he was found.