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QAHN’s identity of English-speaking Quebec in 100 Objects online

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--March 27, 2013.

The Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network (QAHN) launched the website of a new project highlighting the identity of English-speaking Quebec in 100 Objects yesterday morning at 100objects.qahn.org. The launch, held at the Uplands Cultural and Heritage Centre in Lennoxville ended a seven-month quest to find 100 artefacts that, together, sketch a portrait of Quebec’s English-speaking communities.

larger_img_3480_0.jpgThe project was inspired by, “A History of the World in 100 Objects,” a project carried out by the British Museum and BBC Radio 4 beginning in January of 2010 in which 100 key objects were chosen to pinpoint important movements or moments in the history of the world. QAHN’s president Kevin O’Donnell also referred to the inspiration of “The Object in History,” a project of George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media.

“We seek to draw the potential from objects in our history, to reveal an important part of our story,” said O’Donnell.

Between search and submissions, QAHN found 99 different objects suited to their project including theatre playbills, a haystack cap, a Ski-doo, swizzle sticks, a Chinese dragon, and many others. Each object is matched with a story and photos on the website to help show its role and significance in the past, present and future of Quebec’s Anglo heritage. In the end the objects come from almost every corner of Quebec, with the accompanying stories having been written by 62 different writers.

Of the objects selected by QAHN, some 80 submissions were made by heritage and community groups from across the province and reviewed by a selection committee. To add further depth to the portrait, the project team also hunted down other objects from museums, additional organizations and individuals.

Yesterdays launch also included the reveal of item number 100, meant to be something that symbolizes life today, and maybe even looks to the future.

That something turned out to be a silver bracelet that belonged to the grandmother of local writer and teacher Heather Davis, Mary Cecilia Sheehan. Heather’s family moved west from Quebec when she was three, but 12 years ago, Heather came back. On the 100th object page of the website, Heather tells the story of her coming back, and of the significance of the bracelet.

Executive Director Matthew Farfan highlighted the wide diversity of English in Quebec that becomes apparent on the site, making references to differences in ethnic background, community of residence, region, and various views. “We hope the 100 objects presented here will both reflect our communities’ diversity and bring out common threads that will help bind our distinctive parts together,” he said.

Rachel Garber and Heather Darch, the co-managers of the project, were both very clear to add that the portrait presented by the project does not constitute an exhaustive picture.

“We have to think of this as a work in progress,” said Garber. “We hope it’s the beginning of more research along these lines.”

In addition to the website, DVDs will be distributed to libraries across Canada. The DVD includes six short video capsules about selected stories. The website emphasizes the role of the project as an educational tool, and members of QAHN who were present showed a great deal of enthusiasm about the possibilities for how the project could be used or adapted for use in local classrooms.

Some 90 partners collaborated in this project, called "Significant Objects for Telling Identity (SOFTI): English Quebec through 100 Cultural Artefacts," which was supported by the Department of Canadian Heritage.

To visit the new website click here!