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Fort Museum documenting Fort Macleod’s personal pandemic experiences

Fort Macleod residents are urged to contribute their personal pandemic experience to a collective community history of the event.

The Fort — Museum of the North West Mounted Police wants people to write their experiences for inclusion in a pandemic history that will be preserved.

Fort Macleod is following the example of the Lacombe and District Historical Society, which asked for handwritten letters and journals to be kept, and donated at later dates.

The Lacombe society plans to create a travelling exhibit about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic .

All museums and archives in Alberta were encouraged to do the same.

“We thought it was a great idea for the community to preserve their memories,” Fort Museum manager Sandi Davis said.

Fort Macleod residents are asked to record their experiences during the pandemic in any form, including a diary or journal or as letters to family members you can’t visit right now. 

Contributions are sought from people of all ages.

Davis asked people to record how they are feeling, what they are doing and how the pandemic and the requirements for social distancing and self-isolation are effecting them.

“We’re all in this together and nobody has been through this before,” Davis said. “I really think we need to be recording it.”

Davis said documenting the experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic now will give future generations a chance to see what day-to-day life was really like.

Davis compared it to correspondence to and from soldiers during the two world wars which allowed people a glimpse into the lives of soldiers.

Fort Macleod and district residents are urged to begin writing now and to continue as long as the pandemic lasts but people can write as little or as much as they wish.

“It’s really going to depend on the individual,” Davis said. “If you want to document the whole thing, that’s great. If you start out strong and kind of peter out, that’s okay too.”

“It’s really an individual preference at this point but I think the more experiences we capture now is really going to help society again later on,” Davis said.

Davis said the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-’19 is the closest thing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the exception of a letter from the Edmonton School Board to teachers during the Spanish Flu pandemic, there is no information about the event at the museum in Fort Macleod.

“I think if we have more documentation about how it is effecting someone or their business, or seniors feeling trapped in their homes, children who can’t go to school, there are so many different ways this is effecting people,” Davis said. 

When the Fort Museum is ready to accept donations a call will be put out for them to be sent in.

The contributions from people in Fort Macleod will be accessioned and catalogued to be used as resources for future research and exhibits.

“You never know, there could be people who want to do a study on COVID-19,” Davis. “It will just be preserved, which is the most important thing.”

It is also hoped that writing about the experience will provide people with some relief.

“It’s going to allow people to express what they’re feeling inside during this chaotic and stressful time,” Davis said. “It can help people heal later on.”

“It’s good for us to keep on talking about this and getting it out.”

For more information on the project, contact the Fort Museum’s collections department at archives@nwmpmuseum.com.

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