Historical Atikokan, from the perspective of the children

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Historical Atikokan, from the perspective of the children

By Jessica Smith

Friday, October 24 is a PD at schools, so the Atikokan Centennial Museum is offering youngsters an interactive trip into Atikokan’s past through the eyes of children living during those times.

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Through a Child’s Eyes is an exploratory and interpretive event for children aged five to 12, 2-4 pm, and will be led by Museum assistant/interpreter Nancy Kozlovic.

The activities will take children to the logging, forestry, mining and Aboriginal exhibits for storytelling (each story will feature a character from that time) and play stations to offer “feeling and touching activities,” said Museum curator Lois Fenton.

“I’ll be telling history as a child would see it,” said Kozlovic.

For example, children will be able to use brands to imprint on Styrofoam to replicate what logging companies used to identify their logs before sending them across the water. They will also get to examine iron ore pellets and the finely milled finished product from the Steep Rock and Caland mines.

And they will imagine what it would be like to be a child in those days.

“So Dad goes off to work on the railway, but what is the child doing?’” said Kozlovic.

Other questions that will be answered include what type of school is attended and how often, what chores do the children do, what is life like for ‘Donny’ on a farm west of Atikokan, what it’s like attending a railway school car (with classes for one week out of each month or so), what chores would ‘Donny’ as the eldest boy or ‘man of the house’ be required to do while Dad was away in the logging camps, and what it would be like for an Aninshnabe child to go ‘ricing’ for wild rice with the family.

They will hear about ‘Alice’, a story about real-life Atikokan pioneer Alice Zuke, who as a youth won a Women’s Institute poetry contest.

As a little added history lesson, that institute was formed in Stoney Creek, Ontario, in 1897 and developed thriving groups in communities everywhere, including Atikokan, said Fenton.

“It was a very effective way to get women organized in their own communities. They were constantly taking on social issues. It gave them organizational and leadership skills and that would filter down to the home life.” And 14 year old Alice Zuke was a part of the local Women’s Institute history, as well as being the daughter of a hard rock miner.

While the Museum is asking parents to register their children ahead of time (597-6585) for the free event to ensure the right amount of snacks and ‘thank you’ packages are prepared, all children and parents who show up that day will be welcomed.

This event is the start of more children’s activities the Museum plan to organize. More fun, exploratory activities with a historical theme are in the works, including an old-fashioned rope-making workshop, “which is huge fun,” promises Kozlovic.

In an effort to encourage children to visit the museum and learn their local community history, Fenton said these kind of events enable children to explore aspects of history that interest them.

“We welcome children at any time; come for a little bit and come back.”

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