Week One: Riddles in the Snow
Of course we realize that Ottawa’s Winterlude festival is all about embracing the winter, getting out there and laughing at old Jack Frost in a Canadian way. During the last few Winterludes, we could sometimes be forgiven if we felt like there were only two possible meteorological scenarios: too warm to skate or too cold for anything. Luckily, no matter what the weather, this year’s Winterluders are going to be able to count on the Bank of Canada Museum for some winter-themed indoor activities for families out and about; perfect for either warming up or drying off.
We actually had reasonable weather here in Ottawa on February 3 and welcomed many visitors to the Museum for our first Winterlude activity: Riddles in the Snow. This scavenger hunt, is always popular with kids and gets to take an interest in the artifacts. This can result in minor pandemonium as dozens of little humans dodge around the other visitors in search of the correct items. But, being generally three feet and under, they don’t tend to get in the way. Those not into scavenging stepped over to the craft area where we’d set up a guilloche station. What the heck is that? You know those beautiful geometric loop patterns on bank notes? That’s guilloche, and we have a few stations where the kids can make beautiful patterns like the kind their parents made with the old Spirograph© game.
But wait, we had a few special visitors around lunch time on both days: The Winterlude Ice Hogs. They turned up for a few hugs and photo ops, much to the kids’ delight. We didn’t manage to get them to take a tour of the Museum, though—they are very busy groundhogs indeed.
Follow the blog for updates on the next few Winterlude weekends.
Week Two: Cold Hard Cash
The weekend of February 10 saw 191 visitors coming in from the cold to visit the Museum and check out our currency demonstration. Always keen to show off our high-tech polymer bank notes, the staff provided visitors with a pretty cool demonstration of just how tough our money is. Not actually using real bank notes, staff members tested some unprinted polymer material to show just how resilient it really is. They froze it, drowned it and poured sticky liquids on it. Polymer being polymer, it suffered no ill effects apart from a few wrinkles. Visitors took a quiz before the demonstration asking them to predict what would happen to a polymer note under those kinds of conditions. They were pretty surprised when they saw the answers for themselves.
Although they weren’t tested on it, visitors were also given a demonstration of the security features of our notes and invited to inspect their own money—just to make sure it wasn’t counterfeit. Not to worry, nobody had any bad bills.
Drop by here next week for a report on our final weekend’s Winterlude events: the Fur Trade.
Week Three: The Fur Trade
Winterlude at the Museum was extra special on the weekend of February 16-17. Métis elder Archie Martin and his wife Pierrette were on hand with their collection of fur trade era artifacts and props. Archie and Pierrette are experienced educators who’ve shared their knowledge of Indigenous and Métis history with thousands of Canadians. They are master story tellers and extremely passionate about their subject.
Visitors were fascinated by Archie’s stories of a Canada long past, of European and Indigenous trappers, Voyageurs, the Hudson’s Bay Company and the life and work of the trapper. It’s not often that the visitors get to touch anything in a museum and the kids (and adults) were very pleased to be able to touch the soft, luxuriant pelts he had on display. I’m not sure how much the little ones enjoyed the cedar tea we had on offer, but there was plenty of hot chocolate for the less adventurous.
Altogether we had 951 visitors come to our Winterlude weekends and, although we couldn’t promise skating, tobogganing or beaver tails, we provided lots of economic winter fun and a river of hot chocolate for dozens of families.
In heritage conservation, broken metal objects can be reassembled with an adhesive most commonly used for repairing glass and ceramics.
Used extensively in the 19th century, this type of hand-operated press printed secure financial documents using the intaglio method.
How on earth did an “S” with a line or two through it come to represent a dollar? Any ideas? No? That’s OK, you’re in good company.
In 1977, the Royal Canadian Mint wanted to reduce the size of the penny in response to the rising price of copper. Little did the Mint know that the Toronto Transit Commission’s reaction would force the cancellation of the program.
The printing firms’ design teams went to work and came back with a surprising result: vertical notes.
The life expectancy of a two-dollar paper note was about a year. But coins can last for more than 10 years.
Successfully counterfeiting a bank note in the mid-19th century required an engraver with reasonably high talent and very low ethics.