Staff Profile: Featuring Roy Toomey

Next up to the plate on our staff profiles is Education Programmer, Roy Toomey.

Roy giving the tour at the St. Albert Grain Elevators during the Harvest Festival in 2013.

As one of the Education Programmers at the Musée Héritage Museum (MHM), I get to do all kinds of interesting things, and work at a variety of great places. I lead programs at the museum, the St. Albert Grain Elevator (SAGE) Park, the Father Lacombe Chapel (FLC), and the Little White School (LWS). I take programs on the road to schools in St. Albert, Edmonton, Fort Saskatchewan, Barrhead, and other places in the area; and I also lead programs with more of an adult focus, like historic walking tours. I really enjoy doing all of these programs, though programs at the Heritage Sites are my favourites. 

At the school, I wear a 1940s-esque costume, I have the kids address me as ‘sir,’ I get them to sing ‘God Save the King,’ and I teach what discipline was like in schools in days gone by. It’s interesting to watch the children adhere to the rules. They figure it out pretty quickly, and seem to thrive in that environment. I often have children say things like, “I wish this was my real school.”
Mr. Toomey leads a school program at the Little White School.

I also do a lot of research and writing, as we continually develop programs, education kits, and tours for visitors. I’ve had the opportunity to work with our curator and our archivist on exhibits, especially the 6oth anniversary of the end of the Korean War, and the upcoming 100th anniversary of the start of World War I.  Canadian military history is a great passion of mine, so working on these projects is an honour.

I also get to be a handy-man. I’ve made planter boxes, a gerber spout demo, shelves, a garden gate, etc.  I enjoy doing manual tasks at SAGE when given the opportunity. Being cooped up in an office isn’t my favourite thing, so moving around the sites, giving outdoor tours, gardening, and doing outdoor work on the Chevigny House, for example, are quite enjoyable.
Roy busy making old fashioned snowflakes with our younger visitors during the Snowflake Festival.

I have a Master of Arts degree in History, focusing on Canadian military history, and I have worked in education and museum programming for many years. Before coming to the museum in St. Albert in March 2010, I worked for three years doing education programs at the Exploration Place museum and science centre in Prince George, BC. I received both my BA and my MA at UNBC in Prince George, where I also worked as a TA, leading seminars and giving lectures. I also worked for three summers doing historic interpretation at Heritage Park Museum in Terrace, BC, so in total I have about a decade of official experience in this field.

I grew up on Vancouver Island, and have always had an appreciation for history and museums. I owe much of that to my parents, Rich and Karen, who took me, and my brother, on trips to lots of museums and heritage sites when we were kids. The Royal BC Museum and Ft. Rodd Hill, both in Victoria, BC, are two of my favourite places to visit. In 2002, I drove across Canada, visiting numerous historic sites across our country.  Fortress Louisbourg, on Cape Breton Island, is amazing. Canada has such a rich history, and so many fantastic places to see; experience your own country before going abroad!
Getting back to military history, my passion largely comes from my personal connection. My Pépère served in the Canadian Army in World War II, during the Suez Crisis in the 1950s, and made a career of the army: 27 years! His wife, my Mémère, worked for the Canadian Navy (codes dept.) for about eight years starting in 1941; and several of my great-uncles served in World War II. I have a huge appreciation for our soldiers and what they do. In June 2013  I finally made a ‘pilgrimage’ to Europe to visit Canadian battlefields, memorials, and cemeteries of both World Wars (see my previous blog postings; Pilgrimage of Remembrance Part I, Part II, Part III). I also have a collection of militaria at home, including bayonets, badges, books, and helmets. 
I really am a ‘history nerd.’ I love all history, from ancient and medieval to renaissance, colonial, and modern.  I used to be heavily involved in the UNBC Medieval Culture and Combat Club, for example. It’s all interesting to learn about!  I love to share my passion for history with others. I’m very happy that the Musée Héritage Museum shares my view that museums should be fun, interesting, and accessible to EVERYONE.