London Community News
By Sean Meyer/London Community News/Twitter: Newswriter22
Christine Moss is the first to admit that despite living in London her entire life, she actually knew little about the city’s history.
Moss isn’t alone in this, which is one reason why Museum London puts on a series of free walking tours during the summer. These excursions explore everything from the city’s early settlers to historic landmarks and even the murals that can be found around the downtown area.
“I have lived in London my entire life, but I had never even been in the museum before this year. So thought there must be many things I don’t know about,” said Moss prior to the museum’s Monuments and Memorials tour on Saturday (Aug. 4). “This is my third time in four weeks. Generally, I have learned a lot. I would definitely encourage people to come out; it is a lot of fun.”
Stefan Andrejicka certainly agrees on just how fun the walking tours are. Which he should, since Andrejicka is the man responsible for creating the walking tours in the first place.
Andrejicka had just graduated from Western University’s arts management program and was interning at Museum London when he was given the task of creating a series of walking tours. So he went about designing six tours, doing all the necessary research, establishing the various routes and finding all the information that would be included during each program.
The tours, which are generally about two hours in length, take place Saturday mornings and have, Andrejicka said, accomplished just what he hoped they would when he began them three years ago. Although he has now been volunteering at the museum for the past two-and-a-half years, Andrejicka said he continues to enjoy them for one simple reason.
“I just like sharing the history of London with people. A lot of people are tourists from other cities. We have had visitors from the Philippines, New Zealand, from the U.K., from the United States,” Andrejicka said. “Also there are other people, and a lot of them are new arrivals, who want to learn more. And still others have been here for years and still know nothing about the city.”
Although the city’s seventh high heat alert might have kept some people away on Saturday — Andrejicka estimates most groups are between 35 and 40 people — 15 interested individuals came out to learn about the city’s historic landmarks.
Two of those people were teachers Vicki Nicholls and David Beaudoin. The pair, who took the tour for the first time on Saturday, said they were each interested in learning more about their city’s past, not just for professional reasons, but personal ones as well.
“I wanted to go on the walking tour, find out about the monuments and memorials. I don’t know anything about them, but I walk past them a lot and that got me curious,” Nicholls said. “I wanted to get some exercise and learn a little more about London. To actually stop to read the signs.”
Beaudoin agreed, adding that having not grown up in the Forest City, he felt like there was some catching up to do.
“I am interested in history, particularly Canadian history; it is a personal interest, but also as a teacher. So an opportunity to learn more about local history is important,” Beaudoin said. “I am not familiar with a lot of the monuments outside of Victoria Park, so I am really interested in that.”
Andrejicka said he created the six tours with very specific goals in mind for each. Those tours include Unsettling the Thames, The River Walk, Castles to Cottages, Public Art Walk, Murals and, of course, Monuments and Memorials.
If nothing else, Monuments and Memorials settles the question of what the difference is between the two.
“When you think of a monument, the next word you think of is monumental. So monuments are monumental. While memorials are more little plaques,” Andrejicka said. “Here in London we have our monuments mainly confined within Victoria Park. We have a number of plaques and small memorials that exist along the route to Victoria Park. So we talk about what they represent or why they even exist in the first place.”
That kind of information is what interested not only Moss, but her husband Todd Crowe as well. Crowe completed his fourth consecutive walking tour on Saturday, stating there are many pluses to the experience besides the free admission.
“The fact it is a free tour is appealing. I have learned quite a lot. Stefan is quite informative. He is both a historian and a bit of a storyteller as well,” Crowe said. “There is a lot of information in his head. But also, I have noticed many people on the tour have contributed little nuggets of information too. That makes it more interesting too.”
For more information on the walking tours or any programs underway at Museum London, visit www.museumlondon.ca.
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