Local museum’s first curator reflects on historic times

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Your Stories by Lyle Carter


For many years the Colchester Historeum on Young Street, Truro, has been preserving early history and important artifacts regarding Truro and area.

Truro resident Francis Langille recently took us back to the museum’s beginning and some of its own interesting history.

Langille, whose maiden name was Fulton, grew up and was educated in Truro. After working for a number of years for Dr. E.E.I. Hancock in the animal disease laboratory at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College she married local chartered accountant Malcolm Langille in 1952.

“I had volunteered for a lot of various organizations locally,” said Langille, 84. “In 1975 I became involved with the Colchester Historical Society when they took over the building on Young Street. My first involvement was helping with the clean up of the building.”

Langille recalled the official opening of the museum, Feb. 15, 1976.

“A lot of extremely interested people attended the opening more than 38 years ago. People were very pleased that a museum was coming to Truro.”

Langille became the museum’s first curator in 1976.

“I was assisted by a group of enthusiastic volunteers,” Langille said. “Our displays were made up of traveling exhibits and artifacts loaned to us by local town and country people. There were many people anxious to become involved. They wanted to save the past for the future. I enjoyed every single day accepting artifacts and meeting people. Then, there were the new friendships I made with my volunteers.”

Spending 11 years with the museum and retiring in 1987, Langille singled out dedicated individuals.

“Gordon Kinsman deserves to be paid tribute to,” Langille said. “Right from day one Gordon was a key man. Gordon was the early driving force behind the museum. Gordon was an idea man and he had the ability and determination to carry through with an idea. He was the adhesive to hold everything together. Gordon was the driving force behind the establishment of the museum as it is today.”

One of Kinsman’s great interests was acquiring photographs of Colchester County and people came in regularly to look at interesting photos he had found.

“Gordon had an involvement with many different local organizations,” Langille recalled. “He had a wide interest in Colchester County history and he had done so many favours for other people it was hard for anyone to say ‘no’ to him.”

Another important part Kinsman played was he acted as the liaison between the museum and all levels of government.

“This was very, very important,” Langille said. “Money received from government was a big help.”

Langille said that Ralph Guy was also an outstanding contributor to the museum.

“I sometimes think of Ralph. He was most knowledgeable about history,” said the retired curator. “Ralph was on the museum’s management committee after he retired as a school principal. Ralph spent a good amount of time volunteering at the museum. I also think of Bob Dansom, Les Blackburn and others. There were so many wonderful people who supported the museum. I would estimate that there were 200 or more volunteers who took part during my 11 years.”

She also touched on humour.

“It was common for school groups and classes to visit the museum,” she said. “The children always enjoyed signing the register. This one young lad surprised us. He signed his name as Prince Phillip. That kid must have had a good sense of humour.”

Langille is still uplifted when stopping by the local museum.

“Whenever I go into the museum a flood of wonderful memories come back to me,” Langille said. “I recall some wonderful years and a person can’t be at the museum very long until they are up to their ears in history.”

Elinor Mahar, a key volunteer at the museum, speaks highly of Langille.

“When I first began volunteering at the museum in 1984 I met Francis,” Mahar said. “Francis is so accommodating and helpful. Any time I want to check facts about the early history of Truro, Francis is a huge help. Francis has all her wits and is only too willing to help.”

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Lyle Carter’s column appears every Tuesday in the Truro Daily News.

 

Organizations: Nova Scotia Agricultural College, Colchester Historical Society, Truro Daily News

Geographic location: Truro, Young Street, Colchester County

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