March 3, 2017

Daniel Dishaw 

"Making Connections" Attendees

Forty-five individuals and twenty-four organizations and institutions attended ‘Making Connections’ at the Thunder Bay Museum during Heritage Week. OHS Executive Director Rob Leverty, Executive Assistant Heather Anderson, and Communications & Outreach Coordinator Daniel Dishaw travelled to Thunder Bay to attend the symposium and meet with OHS members and heritage professionals from across the region.


On Saturday, February 25, the Ontario Historical Society (OHS) co-hosted the heritage symposium ‘Making Connections’ at the Thunder Bay Museum in Northwestern Ontario. Twenty-four historical organizations and heritage institutions from across the Thunder Bay area gathered to strengthen their network of support and learn more about exciting new preservation and restoration initiatives in their communities.  


OHS Staff at the Thunder Bay Symposium

The OHS travelled to Thunder Bay a few days in advance of the conference to meet with members and colleagues in the City of Thunder Bay. On Thursday, February 23, members of the OHS staff joined OHS Vice President Pamela Cain for a meeting of the Heritage Advisory Committee for the City of Thunder Bay. Left to right are Laura Montgomery, Heidi Stroble, Jennifer Bonazzo, Douglas Yahn (Vice Chair), Andrew Cotter (Chair), Diane Pallen, Councillor Larry Hebert, Daniel Dishaw (guest), Anthony Yozipovic, Rob Leverty (guest), Pamela Cain, and Heather Anderson (guest).


The symposium was hosted by the Thunder Bay Museum, which often serves as a hub for heritage activities and events in the City of Thunder Bay. Director and Curator of the Museum Dr. Tory Tronrud has also served as the editor of the Ontario Historical Society’s scholarly journal, Ontario History, since 2005 and teaches a course on Museum Studies at Lakehead University. In partnership with Dr. Tronrud and the Thunder Bay Museum, OHS Vice President Pamela Cain reached out to the growing number of heritage groups in the region and planned a day-long symposium during Heritage Week 2017. The day consisted of four workshop presentations and a lineup of introductory addresses from more than twenty local organizations and institutions.


OHS Staff with executives of four member-organizations

On Friday, February 24, the Ontario Historical Society met with the executives of four member-organizations which incorporated through affiliation with the OHS in recent years. From left to right are OHS Executive Assistant Heather Anderson; Paul Morralee, Director, Canadian Lighthouses of Lake Superior Inc.; Craig Symmington, President, Thunder Bay Railway Historical Society; Charlie Brown, President, Buddies of the Brill & President, Thunder Bay Transportation Museum Society; OHS Executive Director Rob Leverty; and Jerry Baker of the Thunder Bay Railway Historical Society.


Attendees heard presentations from the Thunder Bay Public Library, Volunteer Thunder Bay, the PARO Centre, and the Ontario Historical Society. The presenters offered guidance on a number of issues facing heritage preservation and restoration groups working across Ontario, including fundraising, volunteer-recruitment/retention, digital communications, strategy, planning, social media, approaches to collaboration, and digitization. Each session generated a great deal of open discussion, circulating ideas and suggestions from a diverse group of organizations and institutions in the region.


OHS Communications and Outreach Coordinator Daniel Dishaw delivered a presentation on communications strategies for non-profit heritage groups entitled “Getting Your Story Out”. Daniel discussed the benefits and challenges associated with a variety of cost-free social and digital media platforms. He stressed the importance of online networking and tagging on social media, emphasizing the Ontario Historical Society’s commitment to helping its members promote their initiatives across all mediums. With a large following on both Twitter and Facebook, the OHS is able to offer its members a higher level of online exposure by sharing their stories and tagging their accounts. Symposium attendees were enthusiastic about taking advantage of this opportunity, and have been consulting with the OHS about developing or expanding their own online presences in the days following the symposium. The Society is also working to finance the creation of a new online platform that would provide its members with a more modern and robust forum to share their content and network with other local heritage groups.


OHS Executive Director Rob Leverty discussing the mandate of the Ontario Historical Society

At the ‘Making Connections’ heritage symposium, OHS Executive Director Rob Leverty discussed the mandate of the Ontario Historical Society and expressed the Society’s commitment to supporting heritage preservation and restoration groups in Northern Ontario. 


OHS Second Vice President and Chair of Lakehead University’s History Department Dr. Michel Beaulieu explained the value of these gatherings in an interview with TB NewsWatch. Dr. Beaulieu remarked that “we’re lucky in Northwestern Ontario, all the organizations represented here and the individuals, we all know each other. It’s like a family. These periodic meetings are extremely useful for coming together to understand common challenges and also what we can do as groups.” In response to a rapidly expanding community of OHS-member organizations in the region, the Ontario Historical Society looks forward to holding more of these sessions in the near future. 


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