The Lacombe Flat Iron Building Museum is featuring courtship, companionship, and family in the Ukrainian Canadian community in a new exhibition called, "Love Letters From the Past."
The exhibition was developed by the Kule Folklore Centre at the University of Alberta and focuses on the lives of early 20th century Ukrainian Canadians through love letters and love stories, Executive Director of the Lacombe Museums Melissa Blunden explains.
“It's a traveling exhibit. It's technically retired, so we've been able to pull it out of retirement and get it out here,” Blunden says. “This exhibition is sure to strike a chord.”
The exhibition is trilingual, and will be displayed in English, French, and Ukrainian, giving viewers a glimpse into how the letters were originally written.
From the exhibition, viewers can expect to see research from U of A students, letters, postcards, and textiles.
The museum is also inviting viewers to showcase their appreciation for community in an act of kindness, by writing a letter to seniors at the Royal Oak Village, that will be delivered at the end of the exhibition period.
Lacombe Museums Community Engagement Coordinator Samantha Lee was inspired to bring the exhibition to Lacombe to bridge the gaps in Ukrainian and Canadian history.
“The Ukrainian community has contributed so much to Canada, and obviously, with the conflict happening in Ukraine right now, we're getting more and more Ukrainians moving into our community,” Lee says. “This is history that they're not familiar with, but it helps bridge a little bit of that gap of our history.”
Bringing the exhibition to Lacombe also gave Lee and the team at the museum an opportunity to dig into the history of artifacts on display, such as a wedding dress.
“The wedding dress hasn't been on display before, it's not necessarily a Ukrainian heritage wedding dress, but it's the right period for this exhibit, so we've been able to kind of dig into its story,” Lee says. “Whereas before we would just have a wedding dress in our collection. It gives us a way to re-envision our own items in a new light.”
From the exhibition, Lee is hopeful younger viewers will see the similarities between letter writing and modern messaging.
“This is how we've always had to communicate and get to know each other but you used to have to go to the post office and wait a month or more, you didn't message somebody, and then three seconds later get a response,” Lee says. "The exhibition focuses on love and how relationships are built, even when you're not physically close to that person, because a lot of the love letters are ones sent between Canada and Ukraine.”
"Love Letters From the Past" will be open to the public from Jan.12, until March 2.
The Lacombe Flat Iron Building Museum hours will be Wednesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., with an opening gala to be announced at a later date.
Visit the Lacombe Flat Iron Building Museum website here for more event information.