Rachel Lambie returns to roots as BCHS curator

By Taylor McClure Special to Brome County News

After taking on the role as curator at the Brome County Historical Society (BCHS) in 2018, Jeremy Reeves is leaving the group to pursue a five-year PhD in the Program of Decorative Arts at Bard Graduate Center in New York City. After three years of hard work and contributing to the unique stories that make up Brome County, Reeves is being replaced by Rachel Lambie. Lambie resided in the area for much of her childhood and has experience working in museums such as the Holocaust Museum in Montreal. She is now looking to bring her touch to the local institution.
“I have a Master’s degree in Museum Studies from UQUAM so I studied in Montreal for a couple of years. Previously I worked in the Holocaust Museum in their education department at first and then I helped out with visitor services, doing tours and being involved in their pedological tools. I also have a bit of experience working at Jewish Montreal where I gave some walking tours for a season.”
Lambie said that it was local history and community that drew her to Brome-Missisquoi. “I enjoy local heritage and history so that drew me here. I was in the Knowlton Players for a bit and I graduated from Massey-Vanier so I did all of my elementary and high school in the area. Then I moved away and found my way back. I like how the community and its history are closely connected.”
Officially taking on the role as the new curator of BCHS July 12, Lambie already has many things in the works. “There are a lot of things that are already in motion that I am just getting my bearings on. I am continuing work that has already been started. There is talk of an Abenaki exhibit that I will do next year. The idea is there, we have some artifacts in our collection that have First Nations’ connections.”
The Abenaki exhibit is an important one for Lambie and the BCHS. “Because our area is Abenaki territory, that is already a very important subject to deal with, especially with everything that has been happening surrounding residential schools. We need more education on our First Nations’ communities; it is imperative I think.”
She is also hoping to get a project off the ground surrounding British Home Children; an immigration scheme that involved sending children living in a difficult situation from the United Kingdom to Canada to live with farm families. “Personally, I am fascinated by the Home Child connection to Knowlton and I am hoping to explore that a bit on my own. It’s a bit of a pet project and there are always things to find out or to build on. I’m hoping to do a little bit more looking into that, but there is lots to do and lots to continue.”
Lambie hopes to get BCHS more involved in collaborations with the local elementary and high schools. “Connections with schools and pedological tools, that sort of area, that kind of work is something I am hoping to bring. I want to find out what teachers are looking for, especially under pandemic conditions when it’s not always easy to visit museum in person. It would be really great to make connections with local elementary school and highs schools to help foster an interest in history.”
Giving teachers the right tools is important. “It probably won’t be ready for this year but it’s something to work towards to create those connections with the schools and help the teachers have the tools, visual aids, and physical aids to teach their subjects. There could be digital aspects too if it makes more sense to have videos or something.”
What makes history interesting for Lambie is the stories that it aims to tell. “Part of what has been interesting for me is the fact that it’s not just words on a page or pictures in a book. It’s people’s stories and trying to communicate them. The stories of the people around you, your neighbour’s grandfather. It’s sharing not just objects that belong to these people but the legacies of these people themselves. It’s the human element.”
Having worked in various museum institutions, Lambie said that what makes local museums like BCHS unique is the all-around working experience and she is looking forward to fulfilling her new role. “The wonderful thing about working for a small museum is that you get the opportunity to do so much of the work of a museum. If you work in a large institution you may work in one department and do one thing. In a local museum, you get more hands-on time with every aspect of the museum and that is a great pull and something that interests me a lot. I’m excited for the new things that I haven’t done before. It’s a wonderful experience and really such a great opportunity.”
In a parting statement to tBCHS, Reeves said that BCHS will always be special to him. “The BCHS will always hold a special place in my heart, and it has been an honour to work for its advancement over the past three years. I have the utmost confidence that Rachel Lambie will be a tremendous curator and will continue to showcase the history and heritage of Brome County in the best light possible. I wish her and the rest of my colleagues at the BCHS the best of luck.”




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