Craigleith Heritage Depot Wins Lieutenant Governor’s Award for REEL History Film Series

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“There were really big players getting awards and then there was us, and that was really good,” museum curator Andrea Wilson said.

The Craigleith Heritage Depot received the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Community Leadership for its work on the REEL History film series.

The museum received the award on February 24 for the short documentary series, which showcases local voices and heritage through a variety of local topics of interest.

“It’s an acknowledgment from the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, so it means a lot,” said Andrea Wilson, curator of Craigleith Heritage Depot. “[It’s] quite remarkable that our little museum and project here has reached the eyes of so many people.”

“There were really big players getting awards and then there was us, and that was really good.”

To date, the museum has released eight films on a variety of local topics, including the apple industry, local Aboriginal history and the fossils of Craigleith, to name a few.

Wilson said one of the series’ goals was to inspire residents to learn more about their community.

“We develop these movies based on things that people might know, but maybe don’t know the whole story,” she said.

“We wanted to share a bit more about how these topics fit into, you know, kind of a community realm, and also, really, not tell the whole story because the stories are really rich and deep,” she said. “We wanted these [films] really being introductory components, like little intros to this story, and leaving people wanting more so they can come to the museum and really explore the rich resources that we have here.

Wilson said the project has generated tremendous interest and engagement, both locally and beyond, and has helped the museum generate new audiences.

“It’s a way for museums, especially during times like COVID, to really increase their visitor numbers without leaving their buildings,” she said. “We’ve definitely seen it – our YouTube hits are huge, and they’re watching these movies and emailing us questions, and some of them are people from all over the world and it’s really amazing.”

The series was filmed in partnership with Mountain Goat Film Company, based in the city of the Blue Mountains.

“We have a really good team there,” Wilson said. “Their vision and cinematic production are fantastic, and they handled these stories very effectively.”

Wilson said the series owes its thanks to a number of community organizations and individuals who were involved in the process.

“It started with the museum’s advisory board, in 2016 they had raised funds, … so funding had already been set for the first three films,” she said. “We did fundraisers, and we got grants from the Blue Mountain Foundation, … and the grant from The Town of The Blue Mountains to make the film about the apple industry.”

“That’s what’s really wonderful is that it’s really the community supporting it and putting their own funds into the development of this project.”

Wilson said the ninth installment in the REEL History film series is set for release in July 2022 and will explore the local pottery industry.

“It will be with the Blue Mountain Pottery Expo that we have on July 23 and 24, and we are doing it at the Beaver Valley Community Center in Thornbury, so it will be [hosted live]but people will also be able to see these films on our YouTube channel.

The REEL History film series has already won awards for documenting heritage and history. Most recently, he received the 2020-21 OHS Dorothy Duncan Public History Award from the Ontario Historical Society.

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