Hi everyone, I am Paige!
I started working with the Elgin County Railway Museum (ECRM) in September 2020 and as soon as I walked into the museum I was excited by all the potential and opportunities. I was hired through a Young Canada Works grant to help with the museum’s social media platforms, their marketing, and the collection re-housing project. I ended up working on all of them and so much more, and as I come to the end of my contract (which is up at the end of March) I wanted to share some of the work I have been doing, some of the things I have learned and some of the amazing changes that have been going on at ECRM while we have been closed to the public.
One of the jobs I was most excited to tackle was the collection re-housing project. I haven’t had a lot of experience working in a collection, and I was so happy I got the opportunity to learn about how to re-house, re-organize and properly care for the amazing artifacts ECRM has in its collection. You can see some of these methods if you go to our Facebook or Instagram pages; I created a series of posts about our re-housing project, conservation methods, and a lot of behind-the-scenes images and videos! In the short time that I have been involved, we have successfully organized four boxcars, cleaned and organized the majority of our main collections room so it can be a more useable and safe storage space, allocated dozens of irreplaceable maps and documents to our brand new fireproof cabinets, digitized countless documents, slides, and photos, helped set up and fill three new storage containers with artifacts and re-housed the majority of the Canadian Southern Railway Station’s collection to the ECRM building. And all of that has just been in the time that I have been here! The re-housing project is nowhere near complete, and efforts by museum staff will forever be ongoing to fulfill our duty to protect and preserve the collection so that it can be accessed and enjoyed by everyone once we are allowed to re-open.
The other area I had the opportunity to grow in was exhibit curation. Because of all the work that is going on with the collection, we came across so many artifacts that we wanted to showcase! Through the amazing efforts of museum staff, we have had access to grants that allowed us to purchase new exhibit cases and print some permanent panels. I had the exciting chance to design and create three new exhibit cases, and help with the brand new exhibit being put together in our baggage car. This is the area of museum work that I love the most because it gives me the chance to be creative and to do research on new areas of history.
Throughout my contract with ECRM I have had the chance to wear many hats, and be involved in many projects. ECRM has a mission to collect, preserve and interpret the railway heritage of Southwestern Ontario, and to engage and educate our audience and community. All of the projects I have been involved in have had a direct and positive impact in pursuit of this mission, and I know that this is only the beginning of what ECRM can do!
I am pleased to say that I have been offered a second full time contract by ECRM for five months from April until August as the Administrative Officer! My duties will be similar to what I did during my initial contract as the Museum Assistant Intern, taking care of daily communications, social media marketing, retail services and assisting with hiring new summer staff.
I hope that you enjoyed reading about my experiences working for the Elgin County Railway Museum, and if you are inspired to help them further their mission and progress, I know they are always looking for donations and volunteers!
— Paige Linner, Museum Assistant Intern (Sep 2020 – Mar 2021), now Administrative Officer (Apr 2021 – Aug 2021)