Penticton museum exhibition combines past with present

Peter Ord

Peter Ord

There was a time in Penticton when the mail arrived only once a month or so, and not at all in the winter. With the advent of the Internet, communications are nearly instantaneous, but in between those two extremes is a long history of development.

That’s what Medium and Message, the new exhibition at the Penticton Museum and Archives attempts to uncover.

“We are looking at how, first of all, the telegraph and the telephone arrived in Penticton. And then the arrival of radio and TV,” said museum curator Peter Ord. “The whole point behind the exhibit is to look at the early technology that is in our collection, but also how did Penticton communicate with the rest of the world, how did we tell the world what was happening in Penticton?”

One of the key exhibits for the show is an item that has been on display in the hallway out side the museum for some time, and has finally been moved inside to be part of a major exhibit.

“The Beast, as we like to call it — the 1000 watt transmitter. The museum has had it for about 25 years,” said Ord. “Finally we get to use it in an actual exhibit, and we have opened it up so people can see what the beast looks like inside. “

Before it came to the museum, the old transmitter broadcast CKOK to the area, from the radio station’s early offices on Nanaimo Avenue.

“We are looking at a trajectory of how communication from those days when the mail came in very rarely to the telegraph, relying on messengers bring messages by bike to households, to the radio, to TV and then of course to where we are in a digital world where it is almost instantaneous,” said Ord.

Amongst many other facets to the exhibit, which include operational telegraph keys, the show will also feature a very active exhibit.

The museum has partnered with the Peach City Radio Society, who have obtained a temporary permit from the CRTC to broadcast once a week from the museum.

It really lends itself to being here at the museum, because that’s what we want to be, is a living museum, where there are events and people participate.

“They are going to start off by doing a radio show every Saturday,” said Ord, who added that they are also partnering with the E’nowkin Centre and they are going to be doing a Syilx program, in their own language and cultural items.

“Then, I would like to do something called Curator’s Corner, where myself, and hopefully Paul Crawford (curator at the Penticton Art Gallery) will come on board and we will do our favourites, our stories, our music, anything that relates to the museum or art gallery world,” said Ord.

Each Saturday in June, the PCRS will be broadcasting from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from the Museum at 94.5 FM. Local volunteers will be producing shows on a variety of subjects and interests. The DJs will be part of the exhibit and society members will be on hand to explain how the broadcast works.

“Our mandate is to create a community radio station run by volunteers and to train local residents on radio production and showcase them on air and on line. This will be the first limited duration broadcast the Society has ever hosted,” said Cameron Baughen, president of the society.

The society is also hosting a free training session at the museum from noon to 4 p.m. tomorrow. Sessions include field recording and interviewing, using cell phones as recording devices, using audio editing software, on-air announcing basics and a Radio 101 course for new members covering rules and regulations of radio broadcasting.