PHOTOS AND STORY BY MELODY FALCONER-POUNDER
In February of this year, Bayfield Guiding was invited to take part in an exciting opportunity by the Huron County Museum – “The Young Canuckstorians Project”. The Guides, Pathfinders and Rangers were asked to select from a list of historically significant Huron County women to research and write a script about with guidance from Sinead Cox at the Museum.
After a few weeks of dedicated work they made a visit to Faux Pop Station in Goderich where under the enthusiastic direction of on-air personality Roz Elliott and audio expert Andrew Bouck they became voice actors! Their voices were then lended to animated characters created to share the stories they wrote.
Canuckstorians is the brainchild of animator Mickey Maple who brought Bayfield Guiding’s characters to life while highlighting some exceptional people, both living and dead, that once called Huron County home. The projects were sponsored by Bruce Power, Goderich IODE and Local LiUNA 1059.
This fall the members of the Bayfield Guiding Canuckstorians were invited to become Guest Curators at the Museum to create an exhibit dedicated to the women they chose as their subjects: Goderich Gaol Matron Margaret Dickson (and her husband, Gaoler William); Cela Sloman (and her husband Fred); Maud Stirling, Dr. Jennie Smillie, Y-Dang Troeung, Alice Munro and Janet Cardiff. The youth researched artifacts in the museum’s collection that could best symbolize their subject – in some cases they borrowed items for better representation, such as two books from a fan of author Alice Munro. The items chosen ranged from a medical examination table circa 1899 to a Union Jack Flag. They then wrote brief descriptions of their artifacts that were professionally mounted on plaques to complete the display. A highlight of the experience was setting up the exhibit under the guidance of Cox. The Curator of Engagement & Dialogue took the youth behind the scenes and showed them how to find and catalogue a special item for their display – the Nursing Sisters uniform worn by Maud Stirling during the first World War.
Their exhibit was ready just in time for the Gala Premiere of the videos in The Young Canuckstorians Project which was held at the Museum on Nov. 26. In attendance were dignitaries, the project animator and members of the public. They were joined by the Bayfield Guiding Canuckstorians, their leaders and family members. Also present were the students and teacher from SOAR at the Avon Maitland District School Board who were also involved in the project, as well as their families. The SOAR students participated in the creation of three video projects: “The Tornado in 2011”, “The White Hurricane 1913”, and “The Harriet Brooks Story”. All attendees were treated to snacks, a fun Kahoot! Quiz highlighting their videos and plenty of praise from those involved in the project.
Cox who welcomed all to the event introduced Beth Rumble, County librarian and director of Cultural Services to those present. Rumble brought greetings on behalf of the Cultural Services Department and the County.
Rumble thanked Cox for coordinating the whole project and supporting the research process.
“I didn’t expect any less but I just want to congratulate you on once again doing a great job of pulling everything together,” Rumble said.
She shared that, “Four years ago, when we were developing our current strategic plan, one of the pieces of information we heard over and over when we were consulting with the public was concerns about engaging youth and increasing their awareness of the history of the area. When Sinead brought this project forward, it was an easy decision for many reasons but especially the opportunity to turn the reins over to the future of the County and tell our stories. What better way to teach youth about the history of Huron County than turning the tables and having them teach us! This experience has been fantastic at telling Huron County stories in a really unique way.”
Rumble went on to share why she loved the Canuckstorians project.
“First of all, it is such a treat to see these stories through the lens of local youth. You all did amazing, by the way. The stories that were selected and the research that was done was fantastic,” she said. “I will be the first to admit that almost each and every video taught me something that I didn’t know or had forgotten. Lastly, it is wonderful to see how everyone approached the storytelling in their own unique way. Great job!”
Rumble was given the honor of introducing Mickey Maple to the audience.
Mickey Maple is the pen name of Mike Collier – the writer and illustrator of a series of historical fiction graphic novels and the creative behind the website: www.canadianhistoryforkids.com.
“I developed a website that celebrated Canadians, on a webpage and a fictitious newspaper called the ‘Northern Nugget’. I looked at the famous and the infamous. The rule makers and breakers, the arts, entertainment and our sports heroes. The disasters and those amazing moments that helped shape our land and our amazing story!”
His graphic novels feature such topics as the Underground Railway, John McRae, The Bluenose, and Laura Secord.
According to Maple, The Young Caunckstorian Project was started to help budding young authors, researchers and artists tell the stories of their hometowns.
“The project originally started to help kids write and illustrate graphic novels but because of COVID it has morphed into this animated series and I couldn’t be more happy. Now these stories can be shared with other kids across Canada!”
Maple noted that as much as he revelled in writing the stories and illustrating them and how proud he was to do readings in schools across the province or hold a book signing at Chapters he is even more proud to be able to help youth become writers and illustrators.
He extended congratulations on the results of the video projects to Bayfield Guiding members Mekka, Ariya, Riley, Clara, Valerie, Joceyln, Kayla, Crystal, Leora and Ella as well as SOAR students, Leah, Corryn, Ben, Rowan and Cooper.
He concluded, “Congratulations! You are young Canuckstorians who have shared these amazing stories to all kids and grown ups across the country and I am so proud of you. It is a win-win for this small town guy. I get to see the joy of new published authors and you have taught me about the amazing history of Huron County. Thank you.”
Guide Ariya volunteered to speak on behalf of her fellow Bayfield Guiding members who participated in the Young Canuckstorians Project.
“I would like to thank all those who made this experience possible and especially Sinead from the Huron County Museum for inviting us to take part,” Ariya said. “From researching our historic women, composing and learning our scripts, becoming voiceover actors with help from Roz and Andrew at Faux Pop Studios, to seeing how Mickey Maple transformed us into animated characters has truly been a very memorable and rewarding exercise and is sure to be a highlight of our Guiding careers.”
Three of the Bayfield Guiding member’s subjects were living at the time of the project completion and two of them – Janet Cardiff and Y-Dang Troeung viewed the finished projects and sent back positive feedback to the creators who were very excited by their response. Sadly, Y-Dang Troeung died on Nov. 27 but she leaves behind a vast legacy of helping newcomers to Canada. And it is hoped that these videos about Huron Hometown Heroes will bring even more awareness on how these amazing women have contributed to the community and beyond.
To view the ten videos created as part of the Huron Hometown Heroes – Young Canuckstorians Project visit: Huron County Museum YouTube Channel.