Jennifer Kirchner is happy to indulge in her love of history as the new president of the Lacombe & District Historical Society.
Kirchner was installed as the new president of the Society at the end of March. While she hasn’t been president for long, she has been a member of the Society for a few years. She said that she decided to take on the role of president in hopes that it would put a fresh perspective on the work the Historical Society does and maybe encourage some people who wouldn’t typically think about joining the Society to get involved.
“There are some younger people that are interested and actively involved,” said Kirchner. “It might encourage some other people to come out of the woodwork and step up and get involved.”
Already, the membership of the Society has expanded and more young individuals are becoming involved, said Kirchner. She added that she hopes this bodes well for the future of the Society.
“It’s a good sense of hope that there are younger people who want to take an active role and help out and preserve our history and our local goals for the future.”
Other than attracting new and younger members, Kirchner said she hopes to expand the services the Historical Society offers. She said that she wants to continue working with local schools to do historical tours and help educate students about Lacombe’s rich history. As such, expanding the Blacksmith Shop Museum is another goal for Kirchner. She said the Society is already working with some new blacksmiths to help out the older ones as well as looking at expanding the times the museum is open, as it usually is only in operation for special occasions like Lacombe Days.
Lacombe’s Blacksmith Shop Museum is a shining gem within the Historical Society’s artifacts. Kirchner said it is special because it is not often that an industry or business survives long enough to be preserved as a museum the way this smithy has. Not only is it rare to have a blacksmith shop survive long enough to become a museum, it’s even more rare for it to still be operational.
“I guess it’s different,” said Kirchner. “It’s very rare for something that’s more industrial to still be there and still be used.”
Of course, working on Lacombe & District Historical Society’s new headquarters and getting that project finished is another goal for Kirchner. She said that that the new facility is definitely necessary for the Society to continue preserving Lacombe’s history by accepting, storing, archiving and displaying artifacts.
“Obviously, as the year’s progress we are just going to continue getting more and more donations of things and they need to be preserved,” said Kirchner. “It will also provide more meeting space, permanent museum space and just improve the resources we have now.”
Going through university, Kirchner spent her summers working as a summer student for her local Historical Society in southern Ontario. She said the organization was much smaller and low-key than the Lacombe & District Historical Society but the experience still instilled a love for history within her.
“We didn’t have any buildings that we were based out of, we were in the basement of the public library,” said Kirchner. She added that when she moved to Lacombe a colleague of hers who was also a member of the historical society encouraged her to join. When Kirchner first had the opportunity to move to Lacombe and was asking people what they knew of the community, it was Lacombe’s history that was mentioned most, she said. Kirchner added that history and preserving it has a bit more significance in a community as old as Lacombe.
“It’s what separates it from the neighbouring communities,” said Kirchner.
History continues to be one of her favourite things about Lacombe now that she lives here as well, she added.