AMHERST – Change can be good, even in a place dedicated to preserving history.
The Col. James Layton Ralston Armoury's North Nova Scotia Highlanders Regimental Museum has a summer student. The curator of the collection, Ray Coulson, says Kyle Johnson’s contribution over the last seven weeks has been 'tremendous'.
“I really love doing the history of stuff and research,” said Johnson.
The Amherstonian attended Saint Mary’s University last year and is registered in business at NSCC here in town for September. One of the tangible changes he’s instituted is improving the self-guided museum experience by labeling displays and framing photos with accompanying biographies peened by him.
“(Labeling) was one of his ideas,” said Coulson.
According to Coulson, his own in-depth knowledge of all the material may have been the reason it didn’t occur to him others would need labels on cases and artifacts.
Some youngsters need to be told step-by-step what to do, but not Johnson, according to the curator. Johnson conducted research at Mount Allison University, catalogued CDs and films for the museum, and took it upon himself to contact radio stations and TV about getting advertising broadcast.
The student’s compensation for the eight-week term is paid through the federal government’s Canada Summer Jobs program.
“I already have the job for next year,” said the student.
Not quite, according to Coulson. The curator would like Johnson to return – he said students learn more and more about the military and become more effective if they stay on more than a year – but a decision hasn’t been formally confirmed.
One of the research projects Johnson worked on was finding out what year the current building was constructed. They’ve got it narrowed down to 1914 or 1915 – which means a centennial is in the offing.
Johnson said he thinks there’s some truth to the notion people his age aren’t interested in the past. He doesn’t think his contemporaries give history a chance.
“I think they’d like it,” he said.