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Digital archive at Canora Civic Centre provides one-stop history

Canora Civic Centre history is now available for visitors to search through in digital format.

CANORA - As the new hockey and skating season begins, a one-of-a-kind digital trophy cabinet and archive is being unveiled at the Canora Civic Centre. A similar project was started in 1998, and has been brought into the digital age. After countless hours of work by Aaron Herriges, director of leisure services, the digital source of fascinating hockey and skating stories and pictures from the history of the Canora Civic Centre was actually ready for unveiling about a year ago.

“The ongoing pandemic limited traffic at the rink last year, and it didn’t feel like the right time to showcase it,” said Herriges. “With hockey games hopefully returning this year, now is the right time.”

So what is it exactly? Essentially, it’s an interactive 42-inch touch screen computer with archive software installed by TouchPros. Civic Centre visitors are able to browse and navigate through a series of categories to find what they are looking for.

“This type of archive is the first one you will see in any rink in Saskatchewan, perhaps Canada,” shared Herriges. “However, there are likely schools in Canada that use them for their student athletes. In the United States, these units are more commonly found in rinks and sport complexes.”

The unit allows unlimited archiving space of Civic Centre’s activities from the past and the present. It can hold as much data and information as can be inputted into the software, which can be done from any remote login location. This type of archive makes it easy for Herriges and others to prevent information from getting lost and forgotten.

“Thirty years or more from now, people can look back on the information of the present day and the past, and that’s pretty neat.

In the 80s and 90s it was common in most rinks that photos and trophies were collected and hung on the walls and in the cabinets, that is, until space ran out to the point where the process often stalled and came to an end.

“That’s where you see gaps in timelines and records,” explained Herriges. “Furthermore, the current arena user groups often find they are not interested in maintaining and organizing records/trophies from the past, so these items become neglected unfortunately. This pattern is common and happens everywhere, it’s nobody’s fault that is happening. That’s where the Touchwall comes in. Once information is inputted, it is easily maintained and stored forever on a cloud server. You never have to worry about it once it’s in there and it’s only available at our rink. You have to come there to see it.”

Herriges has already accumulated a wide variety of material from the Civic Centre’s history to this point for visitors to enjoy.

“It’s comprised of lots of images, newsprint clippings, and descriptions as far back as 1942. There are gaps in the timeline but there is enough material that a person could spend days going through it. The images consist of: figure skaters, skating groups, events, hockey teams (male and female), players, coaches, trophies, facility photos, staff members and so on.”

One of the most appealing aspects of this project is that more pictures and stories, including biographies, can always be added.

“And we’re always looking for more material, paper or digital,” Herriges continued. “So if the public has something they would like to contribute, they are encouraged to bring it down to the Leisure Services office, and we will make digital copies and return the items to you. So please dig into those closet boxes of memorabilia you’ve been saving forever and we’ll preserve those memories!

“Besides the images and records in our possession at the rink, the largest source of information from the past was The Canora Courier, which has been recording photos and developing stories for a very long time and this archive would not be successful without that information. I’m glad we are able use it to display the past as it was back in the day with their help. They are listed as a major sponsor for the archive.”

There is also dedicated space on the TouchWall for businesses looking for an opportunity to advertise.

“Much like our arena sign board program, for $150 annually, a business ad can be included on the home page and business profile tab,” said Herriges. “This package includes multiple images of your business, 10 bullet points, and unlimited space for your business description. The TouchWall is projected to be very popular, and the advertisement exposure should be good.”

The TouchWall is the centrepiece of the whole preservation project, but there is still work to do in other areas. When items were removed and set aside from when the Civic Centre lobby was getting painted, they were also sorted through and documented.

“The memorabilia that was retained will join our existing Wall of Fame and be displayed once again. That will be another nice addition to the lobby,” concluded Herriges.