City of Edmonton ArchivesThe City of Edmonton Archives is going virtual with its first online exhibit profiling Edmonton author, artist and archive-advocate Ella May Walker. Key to the city’s artistic and historic communities, Walker was an easy choice for the première of the exhibit, which allows users to navigate through the city’s rich history without paying the price of admission at a museum. After moving to Edmonton in 1920, Walker was a member of the city’s Archives and Landmark Committee in the 1940s and ’50s – decades important to the building of the city’s archives, which now include 270,000 images and six vaults of documents. She died in 1960, but the exhibit hopes to revive interest in her work.

She very topical right now,” says city archivist Kathryn Ivany. Walker is one of the subjects of the Art Gallery of Alberta’s Mistresses of the Modern exhibit.

Walker’s cyber profile invites users to read her biography, experience her art, download excerpts from her novels and read about her efforts to create a culture of historical preservation in Edmonton and see what the legacy of those efforts looks like now. The city’s move online is intended to give patrons faster access to the archives and to provide a narrative to the stories of Edmontonians that raw records couldn’t tell by themselves, Ivany says.

It’s a fun way for people to access information about Edmonton’s history,” she says. “The material is available for them whenever they want it.

The interactive features are expected to be permanent fixtures on the archives’ site. An online home means new content can be added to the exhibits as the city and its stories move forward.

Plans for future exhibits are in the works. Site visitors can expect the next big exhibit to be a guided look at the shanty town that sprung up in Grierson Dump, north of the North Saskatchewan River, during the Depression.

Reported by Shaamini Yogaretnam in the Edmonton Journal on April 26, 2012.

See more about the City of Edmonton’s First Online Exhibit.