MOOSE JAW — The Moose Jaw Western Development Museum (WDM) was a figurative beehive of activity on June 1 as nine schools and one homeschool group from across southern Saskatchewan bussed hundreds of kids in to learn about early settler days.
“They’re from across southern Saskatchewan, so there’s some local folks here, we have two schools from farther away in the Chinook School Division, we’ve got Success School, and we’ve got Hazlet School coming, too. That’s always nice to see,” said Karla Rasmussen, WDM Programs Manager.
“For some of the students, especially the younger ones, this may be their first field trip, which is a great way to experience the WDM. I mean, it’s always a great time to come here, but on a day like this, there’s demonstrations, we’ve got a bunch of our volunteers here sharing their knowledge and skills, and it’s a little different than a regular museum visit because of everything they get to touch and interact with.”
Outdoor educational activities included a blacksmithing forge demonstration with well-known local artisan Don Fox, looking through a solar telescope, nail hammering, penny farthing bicycles, and a group from Carousel Riders, a horse farm outside Moose Jaw that offers riding lessons, boarding, and equine special events.
Inside activities included:
- Cow milking and ice-cream making
- 15 Wing Moose Jaw personnel answering questions and assisting with paper airplane-making
- Flight and vintage airplane tours
- The Prairie Hearts Quilters Guild
- Building toys, games, and pastimes
- Rail history and a steam locomotive talk
- Trains and boxcars
- Métis Cultural teachings
The Métis portion was organized by New Southern Plains Métis Local 160. Similar to their presentations at the Moose Jaw Public Library on May 17, president Darrell Hawman shared history and storytelling, Al Chaisson shared some of the Michif language, and Rick Pickering showed students how to put together a Red River Cart.
The Métis also brought along some Bannock bread and jam, which proved hugely popular.
2Lt. Elise de Garie, in training as a Snowbirds Public Affairs Officer, answered numerous excited questions from children sitting in the WDM’s mockup of a Snowbirds Tutor cockpit, ranging from how an ejection seat works to why wearing a helmet while flying is important.
“Today we are attending the Western Development Museum School Learning Day,” de Garie said, “so we’re welcoming kids throughout the museum, we’re doing paper plane crafts, and we’re introducing them to what 431 Air Demonstration Squadron, which is the Snowbirds, does.”
15 Wing sent several personnel in addition to the Snowbirds, including technicians and pilots in training. Lana Meyers, a Grade 4 teacher at MacNeill Elementary School in Regina who helped organize the visit, said it was awesome for the students, teachers, and staff to chat with the military personnel. She also had high praise for the other educational stations.
“The Métis presentation was amazing, they showed us the Red River Carts, and talked a little bit about the Michif language, and they taught the kids a little bit of history. And they got some Bannock with jam on it before they left, they really loved that.
“The ice cream making and the milking were neat, a lot of the kids are talking about that, and the blacksmithing. He heats up the metal and pounds it down and he’s making little things out of it, that’s quite neat because that’s something we don’t normally get to see.
“We’re learning about the early settlers of Saskatchewan right now,” Meyers added, “so today fits in perfectly with our curriculum.”