As we approach the end of 2022, with an ever-growing list of more than 30 volunteers, I can safely say that we have culminated in terms of indoor restoration work and are ready to transition to finishing touches prior to turning to the development of exhibits in the beautifully-renovated spaces of the Museum. It is the thousands of hours of selfless volunteer work in 2021 which set the subsequent sound foundation for our astounding results in 2022.
The early months of 2022 witnessed the consolidation of our machine shop into a professional operation, allowing us to undertake countless projects, to include the construction of hundreds of metres of multi-storey shelving units for all the collections, ships plans and ledgers. Painting of the Curatorial/Research Room on the second floor, the hallways and Main Gallery was pursued at an unrelenting pace with truly impressive results. The Cataraqui Prow was ‘unveiled’ from its storage container and is now proudly on display in the Main Gallery on an ingeniously-designed platform. Walls were demolished in the Boiler Room (also known as Calvin Gallery) with a view to creating a much brighter and impressive space; and, maintenance/refurbishment work continued apace in the Engine Room, despite the frigid winter conditions. All this to enable us to transfer all the collections from two City of Kingston sites back into the Museum by mid-year – a goal we accomplished with the assistance of Frank’s Worldwide Moving.
As the collections, artefacts, books and periodicals returned to the Museum, they were moved to appropriate locations – the library, as well as the Inner and Outer Archives, and meticulously stacked to optimise available space. Choice artefacts and paintings were selected to be tastefully displayed in the Lobby, the hallways and Main Gallery. The pace of work by volunteers was frenetic given the need to have the majority of indoor projects completed in time for a banner day for the Museum – the 12 May Volunteer/Member Recognition event. At this event, Chair of the Board Chris West marvelled at the work achieved in such a short period of time and personally recognised each of the volunteers for their efforts.
As we transitioned into the summer, selected volunteers began to undertake outdoor maintenance – keeping the lawns in immaculate condition and weeding the Dry Dock walls and East Pier, as well as filling in potholes on the Pier. Three well-designed picnic tables were produced and placed along the Dry Dock and Pier to entice visitors to enjoy our pristine waterfront property; and, the workshop garage door was re-built from scratch. Some brave souls also agreed to refurbish the rusting Dry Dock railing – meticulously and painstakingly grinding away the rust and repainting, inch by inch, the railing. It is now in better condition than when it was first installed decades ago!
In early October, another project was undertaken by our carpentry team – construction of the backdrop to the ‘Our Great Lakes: Celebrating Our Freshwater Resource’ project in the Page Gallery. Thanks to their quick response and a considerable number of additional volunteer hours, the work was completed just in time for the unveiling event on 23 October. Another important carpentry achievement has been the reconstruction of one set of vestibule doors, which are now set to endure the forthcoming winter months.Readers will no doubt by now be out of breath absorbing the litany of crowning volunteer achievements at the Museum in the last 12 remarkably-productive months but, hang on to your seats…2023 will be even more hectic. A major project in the first few months of the New Year will be the cleaning and painting of the gallery floors, as well as completing paint work in the Forge. Work will continue in the library where we have volunteers assiduously sorting our thousands of books and publications and shelving them in accordance with the Dewey Decimal System. And then will come the work of preparing for the development of new exhibits…new…not more of the old. A daunting task, but our growing volunteer team is up to the challenge! They really are true heroes of the Museum who have earned some well-deserved time off – I salute them all.
Co-Vice-Chair of the Board