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Moncton Museum to add Transportation Discovery Centre

MONCTON, N.B. - Within a year or so, excavators will break ground for a 4,500 sq.-ft. addition to the Moncton Museum. It will showcase the role of transportation in Moncton as a transportation hub, now and through its history.


MONCTON, N.B. – Within a year or so, excavators will break ground for a 4,500 sq.-ft. addition to the Moncton Museum. It will showcase the role of transportation in Moncton as a transportation hub, now and through its history.

Anything that sailed, rolled on rail or rubber or took to the skies might find itself in the Transportation Discovery Centre (TDC), but the exhibits will have a modern twist: Unlike the static displays of dinosaur bones and plundered treasures we shuffled past in the museums of our childhood, the TDC will educate and entertain – ‘edutain’ as the museum puts it.

“We are trying to get people to understand that this is not a museum, technically. It is a discovery centre,” says Brenda Orr, senior heritage officer, Moncton Museum. The exhibits will include, for example, videos and audio recordings. Live volunteers will interpret the exhibits to help listeners understand the role of transportation in their lives.

As well, Orr notes, “The trucking industry has said that it is a challenge to get young people into the field. We can work with schools and community colleges to help get young people into the industry.”

The TDC will be interactive too. Orr provides a hint how: “Our consultant has proposed a truck test table where you build trucks using a commercial product called K’nex. Visitors will be able to assemble them, load them up with weight and run them on the test tracks and see how they work. This is hands-on.”

Interactive also suggests mini-classes for kiddies, simulators and online access to archives in other museums for researchers. The TDC can offer far more than what staff can stuff into the physical building.

The museum has just begun the hunt for trucking industry material for the TDC.

“We have a lot of photographs, early road maps and other archival material. I would not say that the truck part of our collection is strong at the moment. But whenever we do these things, we go to sources to borrow materials and find out what is out there,” Orr explains. “There have not yet been any (artifacts) about trucking that have been brought to our attention. But that does not mean they do not exist.”

The museum has good relationships with the industry and has already received support. For instance, the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association has raised $19,000 toward its goal of $25,000 to contribute to the TDC. Atlantica Diversified Transportation Systems has made a monetary pledge over five years. Wes Armour, the head of Armour Transportation Systems in Moncton co-chairs the TDC fundraising campaign. Other carriers have made contributions as well.

Making the TDC a success is not the exclusive effort of associations, carriers, curators and consultants. Individuals are able and welcome to contribute. There are many possibilities: Imagine the treasures hidden away in the attics and barns of old-time, second- and third-generation truckers: photographs, Super 8 films, company documents, licences, plates, vintage trucks and model trucks, tools, communication gear…

Beyond the physical possibilities are the treasures stored in the minds of men and women. One area of the TDC will be about communication. For trucking, Orr says, “There is a whole language associated with the use of the CB radio by truckers.”

For this kind of collection there is no easy substitute for people who are willing to contact the museum and get what they know on paper, or even better, on tape or video. And don’t think just English. There is no doubt that French drivers, of which there are plenty in New Brunswick, evolved their own road patter that would surely entertain, educate and simply be a grand part of the oral history.

Imagine the stories: crossing the Saint John River on horse-drawn ferries, lost in a blizzard with a load of …

Who were the inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs of the last century? This century’s stories include test driving long combination vehicles, hauling 145-foot long loads of wind turbine blades and beams for the Confederation Bridge, the proliferation of truck aerodynamics.

“We want to engage people and looking at transportation initiatives, transportation bloopers, what didn’t work. There is a whole wealth of expertise that we can only get from people in the trucking industry,” Orr says. “We really do want to know what is out there.”

If you have stuff or stories, or otherwise might like to volunteer your expertise, the Moncton Museum would love to hear from you. Call 506-856-4383 between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday. A live human will answer. Or fire off an e-mail to info.museum@monction.ca.


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