Thunder Bay "Making Connections" Heritage Symposium
March 3, 2017
On Saturday, February 25, the Ontario Historical Society (OHS) co-hosted the heritage symposium ‘Making Connections’ at the Thunder Bay Museum in Northwestern Ontario. Twenty-four historical organizations and heritage institutions from across the Thunder Bay area gathered to strengthen their network of support and learn more about exciting new preservation and restoration initiatives in their communities.
The symposium was hosted by the Thunder Bay Museum, which often serves as a hub for heritage activities and events in the City of Thunder Bay. Director and Curator of the Museum Dr. Tory Tronrud has also served as the editor of the Ontario Historical Society’s scholarly journal, Ontario History, since 2005 and teaches a course on Museum Studies at Lakehead University. In partnership with Dr. Tronrud and the Thunder Bay Museum, OHS Vice President Pamela Cain reached out to the growing number of heritage groups in the region and planned a day-long symposium during Heritage Week 2017. The day consisted of four workshop presentations and a lineup of introductory addresses from more than twenty local organizations and institutions.
Attendees heard presentations from the Thunder Bay Public Library, Volunteer Thunder Bay, the PARO Centre, and the Ontario Historical Society. The presenters offered guidance on a number of issues facing heritage preservation and restoration groups working across Ontario, including fundraising, volunteer-recruitment/retention, digital communications, strategy, planning, social media, approaches to collaboration, and digitization. Each session generated a great deal of open discussion, circulating ideas and suggestions from a diverse group of organizations and institutions in the region.
OHS Communications and Outreach Coordinator Daniel Dishaw delivered a presentation on communications strategies for non-profit heritage groups entitled “Getting Your Story Out”. Daniel discussed the benefits and challenges associated with a variety of cost-free social and digital media platforms. He stressed the importance of online networking and tagging on social media, emphasizing the Ontario Historical Society’s commitment to helping its members promote their initiatives across all mediums. With a large following on both Twitter and Facebook, the OHS is able to offer its members a higher level of online exposure by sharing their stories and tagging their accounts. Symposium attendees were enthusiastic about taking advantage of this opportunity, and have been consulting with the OHS about developing or expanding their own online presences in the days following the symposium. The Society is also working to finance the creation of a new online platform that would provide its members with a more modern and robust forum to share their content and network with other local heritage groups.
OHS Second Vice President and Chair of Lakehead University’s History Department Dr. Michel Beaulieu explained the value of these gatherings in an interview with TB NewsWatch. Dr. Beaulieu remarked that “we’re lucky in Northwestern Ontario, all the organizations represented here and the individuals, we all know each other. It’s like a family. These periodic meetings are extremely useful for coming together to understand common challenges and also what we can do as groups.” In response to a rapidly expanding community of OHS-member organizations in the region, the Ontario Historical Society looks forward to holding more of these sessions in the near future.