So Saturday arrives and I am to give a talk in the afternoon. Heather the museum curator mentions that this is a new thing for them since most of their talks are about dead people. Also she was hoping that members of city council might attend but they are all away in Halifax for a conference. As both artist and curator I am quite familiar with fluctuating numbers for openings and talks -- veering between 75 and zero, so I have no idea what to expect, but as we drive up we are greeted by music, balloons and banners in the park adjacent to the museum. Alas it's not for me; it's the PRIDE festival taking place across the way.
My event, while prominently advertised in the street signage out front, turns out to be a small party bolstered by Heather, my family members, some museum researchers, a couple interested in the solar printing process in particular, the Doctor Kearney Middle School principal Wes, and Matt from the Alaska Highway News.
That said, everyone there seemed keenly engaged in the subject and offered much in terms of feedback, more info on the Doc and the region in general. I do a PowerPoint talk showing some of the original photographs and explain how I create the prints.
There is a lot of interest is a drawing that an American soldier did of my father, since Tamara, a museum research volunteer, is looking for material on William Barnett, an artist who was there on the Alaska Highway project in the 1940s. We email my sister and yes Bill Barnett was a friend of my mother's at the time so he likely did the drawing.
Tamara retrieves a book from the archives that lists all of the babies delivered by Garnet during his career there. Katie finds my name, and we note that the date is a day earlier than the one on my birth certificate. In my album there is a birth announcement card that has the same date as the book, but it has been inked out and corrected. Back in Toronto I ask my sister about this and she suggests that my father had a particular printer in Sarnia so maybe the three hour time difference is the reason. If I was born around midnight and the telegram to Ontario came somewhere then ?? There isn't any way to find this out.
Which brings me to another subject, that of memory. I have been listening to Malcolm Gladwell's excellent podcast Revisionist History, (thank you Anna) and the one I heard today is Free Brian Williams. It concerns memory, and a study that examines the way we all remember significant events and how these memories drift over time, varying often dramatically from person to person and gaining embellishment as they are retold. I am sure that my Fort St. John adventure will work its way into various pockets of my brain and will not always be remembered as clearly as it supposedly is now. Maybe I will conflate the PRIDE festival with my talk, or suggest that we went horseback riding at Wes's ranch.
So that's why I write this.