By Shirley Huchcroft
Although the herbarium is a GRPP science project rather than a program, it has always been the project’s intent to share its work with the public so that people can learn about the park’s flora. Project members were thrilled this summer by the opportunity to collaborate with the Cochrane Historical Museum, which hosted the herbarium’s first exhibit.
The Cochrane Historical Museum occupies a home built in 1909 by Thomas Davies for his family and used by Dr. Park as Cochrane’s first hospital. It was purchased by the Cochrane Historical and Archival Preservation Society (CHAPS) and moved from its original location alongside highway 1A to the Cochrane Ranche historic site at the intersection of highways 1A and 22.
A display of local plants is an appropriate fit with a museum dedicated to the history of an area. Plants were important to native peoples, who used them for a variety of purposes, including, food, medicines, dyes and tools. They were also important to early settlers in the Glenbow and Cochrane ranch areas. In particular, the various nutritious grasses in the region made ranching possible.
The herbarium project’s display, entitled “Flowers of the Area” was a simple exhibit of 48 mounted plants refreshed in mid-summer with a second set of 48 mounts. Jade Lewis, the museum’s summer student, placed an antique child’s table and chairs by the window, with paper and coloured pencils. Children’s drawings of the plants were then hung on a tiny clothesline amongst the herbarium project mounts. Comments from visitors and museum staff tell us that this collaboration was a hit.
Special thanks from the herbarium group go to GRPF steward Frank Hennessey and president of CHAPS, Gordon Davies.* Two of the herbarium group members, Chris Pike and Gwen Mackenzie set up the display. Photos are courtesy Julia Millen and Shirley Huchcroft.
* Gordon Davies is the grandson of Thomas Davies. The room which housed the herbarium display was his former bedroom.