Myrtle Philip goes online 

Work is underway on a special project documenting the life of Whistler pioneer Myrtle Phillip. The Whistler Museum is creating a Web site on Phillip to be displayed as part of Canada’s Digital Collections, an online compilation of outstanding contributions to our nation’s history.

The project is headed up by the museum’s curator and archivist, Pat Gemmill. Thanks to a $25,000 grant from Industry Canada, Gemmill was able to hire Kerry Clark, who holds a degree in anthropology, and Robin Bonner, who holds a degree in art history. The recent graduates have been living in the Whistler area for several years, so Gemmill says it was a win-win situation.

"It’s a great chance for them to have work in their fields but also be learning a lot of the media programs like Dreamweaver and Flash and how to build a Web site. Definitely for me it was a priority to hire people from the area… because I wanted to keep this money from the federal government in the community."

The local experience of Clark and Bonner will also prove useful. Both are already familiar with Whistler’s history and its present day culture. That will aid in portraying the overall feel of the site and the image of Whistler represented to the rest of the world.

"I also just find it incredibly interesting," says Clark, "to look at pictures from just 80 years ago, aerials of the valley, and there’s nothing… The community has changed so fast."

The team is about a third of the way through their task. The most tedious part of scanning and enhancing 1,700 photos is complete. Gemmill says having those photos digitized will also be a huge help to the museum.

"There’s so much preliminary research that’s come out of the scanning. Now we know we’ve got this many photos on this subject or that, and how we want to develop it."

Clark agrees, saying that it will also be helpful to museum visitors to have the photos online and to have people knowledgeable about the photos’ histories.

The next step for the trio is to continue the research pertinent to the project and then physically build the Web site. Gemmill says they’re looking for one more person for the team to offer guidance in the graphic design aspect of the site. The Myrtle Phillip Collection will be ready for viewing by May at www.collections.ic.gc.ca or via a link from www.whistlermuseum.org

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