You have met Amanda McNeely, Tiffany Nixon, and Teri White who are part of our working team for your Ladies Who Lunch date on June 6th. Here is another one of our members ready to put this shindig all together.
A few years I wrote a blog about my forever friend Sheila Wallet Needham, and there isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t remember the happy times we had. Do you remember your past friends each day? Two weeks ago Marian MacFarlane told me all about her childhood friend in Packenham. Late last week she asked me to add to it as she remembered more of what she enjoyed with her visiting friend.
So today as my person of the day, and also a member of the Ladies Who Lunch organizing group, I proudly introduce to you my friend Jennifer Fenwick Irwin, curator of the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum.
Jennifer grew up in the city of London, Ontario. She had a life I longed for, with her professor and iconic artist father, and her mother also was a talented artist. She and her older brother Graeme resided in an old rambling house full of art students, easels, rising loaves of bread, spinning wheels, and music.
After graduating from High School she traveled around Europe for 6 months then moved back home and in with a boyfriend who played guitar for a punk rock band. Jennifer spent her days working in bookstores, and evenings were spent next to an amplifier in whatever venue he played. As she said, “after two years, hence the deafness”.
Through the wire in 1988 she heard about a Museum studies program and moved to Ottawa. By the third year she had landed a great job at the Museum of Civilization, and met her future husband Pete Irwin. She actually spent a year living in a log cabin right downtown in the market.
Jennifer spent the next two years working at the Museum of Civilization and then at the Library and Archives Canada for another year until her first daughter Olivia was born. Daughter Bridget soon followed, and she landed as she said, “another great gig” working at home for the Glebe Home Day Care program. Each day was tea time and dress up with 5 little girls, including her own.
Jennifer and Pete wanted to set down roots for their family and chose Carleton Place as their destination. Her brother lived here, and they felt they could get “more home for their money” in this area, and bought an ancient 4 bedroom home. The day they signed the final papers Jennifer found out she was pregnant with baby number 3 and newborn Henry took over the room that had been planned as an office.
The Irwin family has lived in Carleton Place for just over 18 years. Jennifer has done her share of jobs from: working at the IGA, Scotiabank, commuting to the Textile Museum in Almonte, and the Library and Archives in Gatineau. During a sejour of unemployment she began volunteering at our Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum. When they received a substantial private donation, Jennifer was hired to catalogue and organize all the artifacts in their collection. Do you know there are over 10,000 and counting?
As she said, somehow they have managed to find the money to keep her employed there for almost 4 years, and she is now officially the Museum Manager/Curator. She takes care of every aspect of running the museum with about 10 regular volunteers and an elected Board of Directors. Between the administration, grant writing, exhibit design, event planning, fundraising, and research, it keeps her busy. If that wasn’t enough, she has recently been tasked with assisting the Roy Brown Museum, the town’s Municipal Heritage Committee, and being the liaison to Council for all three groups. By the way, she still hasn’t finished cataloging all the artifacts! After all, *”a Museum should never be finished, but boundless and ever in motion” like Jennifer.
Files from Jennifer Fenwick Irwin