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Thursday, 22 December 2011 15:02

Fort Museum’s programming receives national recognition

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By Susan Quinlan
Fort Macleod
Fort Macleod’s Fort Museum has received honourable mention by the Canadian Museums Association for The Red Coats are Coming, one of the museum’s educational programs.

In addition, the Canadian Tourism Commission selected the museum’s Red Serve VIP Horse Grooming Program to be one of the experiences added to its Signature Experience Collection, designed to attract travellers to Canada.

 “We’re thrilled with both honours. The Red Coats are Coming is an amazing program and acknowledgement is a real feather in the cap of southern Alberta and local history,” said Fort Museum Manager Dawn Lauder.

The Red Coats are Coming is an innovative production that introduces and allows students to experience settlement of the west from a number of  perspectives, including that of the North West Mounted Police, the whiskey traders and natives.

It begins with a film production of “The Great March,” when the North West Mounted Police first came west. That’s followed by a play, written by Gabrielle Pope introducing key players in the region’s history including Colonel James Macleod, Jerry Potts, Chief Crowfoot and Chief Red Crow. Next the students are divided into three groups and assigned scenarios to engage in, bringing to life the history of the region.

The Red Coats are Coming program was designed by Denise Calderwood who has overseen its production since its inception in 2008.  Lauder quickly suggested Calderwood be given the all-expenses-paid trip to Ottawa held in early December, to attend the award ceremony.

“I just thought it was more appropriate for her to go, a reward for all her hard work. Ever since its inception, she’s been there running the program,” said Lauder.

An additional acknowledgement of museum staff’s hard work came the same week, when Lauder was informed by the Canadian Tourism Commission that the museum’s VIP grooming program had been chosen for inclusion in their Signature Experience Collection, as one of 115 experiences listed from across Canada.

“We are ecstatic to be included in the Canadian Tourism Commission’s exciting new marketing program. This is an incredible opportunity to show off one of Southern Alberta’s premier attractions to people globally.” 

Lauder described the horse-grooming program as both unique and a huge draw for international visitors interested in immersing themselves in western Canadian history. 

“By promoting the Fort Museum and the North West Mounted Police Musical Ride worldwide, we are essentially promoting western Canada and bringing international tourism to the area. I’m also hoping between the two (awards) it’ll drive even more people from Calgary, south.”

The Groom a Horse Program runs concurrently in the summer, with the Musical Ride. Lauder described it as a fun and knowledgeable VIP experience for all ages.

“The participant learns how to groom and saddle a horse in preparation for the Fort’s famous Musical Ride, inspect the troops and be awarded with a special prize by members of the Fort’s Mounted Patrol.”

Reflecting on having received notification of both awards in a single week, Lauder was pleased.

“It would have been cool to be recognized by one, but I was on cloud nine for a week.”

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