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My exhibit at the Provincial Archives of Alberta ended with a bang. The archives hosted a Randall family reunion at the exhibit on August 20th, and 53 Randall family members were there. I had a wonderful time talking with the family, finding out even more about this amazing woman, and seeing photos of her for the first time.

alda-dale-randall-in-gardenAlda Dale Randall, [1920]. Photograph courtesy of the Randall family

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When I first thought of creating my exhibit from Alda Dale Randall’s diary, I tried to locate family through obituaries and the High Prairie Museum, but had no luck. Then three sisters who are Dale’s granddaughters, noticed an ad for the exhibit in the Edmonton Journal. Surprised at seeing their grandmother’s name as an exhibit title, they came to take a look. They contacted me through the archives and I met with them and had a lovely talk with these three warm, engaging women. The Events Coordinator at the archives then had the brilliant idea to host a family reunion at the exhibit.

dsc_2013Sisters Kitty, Heather and Lisa: Alda Dale Randall’s granddaughters

With just a few weeks’ notice, the sisters were able to contact Randall family members to come together in Edmonton from across Alberta and as far as Victoria, Kelowna, Saskatchewan and San Diego, California. Some family members had not seen each other in decades.dsc_1873

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Speeches of welcome were made by the Provincial Archivist Leslie Latta and Edmonton-Mill Creek MLA, Denise Woollard. I spoke about Dale as my inspiration, and Lisa Randall spoke on behalf of the family. Media were in attendance to cover the event, including the Edmonton Journal and Global News, and the story was picked up in Florida by art, agriculture and agri-tourism blogger Shauna Lee Lange.

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I was glad to have the opportunity to talk to the family about how inspirational and touching I had found their grandmother’s/great-grandmother’s diary to be.

dsc_1905Lisa Randall’s informative and entertaining talk

Randall family members brought photos and family archives to the event as well as artworks that Dale had painted (yes – she was also an artist!)

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One of my objectives as an artist is to create a connection with history (most specifically women’s history), my artwork and the viewer. The Randall family reunion that took place at the Provincial Archives of Alberta was a rare and moving opportunity to directly connect all three. Past and present lives were reunited in an exchange of thoughts and feelings with and between Alda Dale Randall’s descendants, within the environment of the exhibit that was inspired by her, and surrounded by her historic words.

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I am so happy that another of “my” prairie women is receiving attention and recognition for her story and achievements.

Unless otherwise indicated, all photographs are courtesy Provincial Archives of Alberta. Thanks to the Provincial Archives of Alberta and its dedicated staff for their considerable part in this exhibit and for their dedication to preserving Alberta’s history. Thanks also to the designers and communications staff at Alberta Culture and Tourism. 

 

Posted by Marlena Wyman

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