Timespan: Diefenbaker's North
Recently, the University of Saskatchewan Archives and Special Collections has been thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with the Timespan Museum and Arts Centre in Helmsdale, Sutherland, in the highlands of Scotland on a project entitled Diefenbaker's North. The Timespan museum is a remote but truly innovative historic and artistic institution, winner of Scotland's 2014 Creative Place Award.
This year, in anticipation of the Commonwealth Games which are being hosted in Glasgow in July, and in line with themes of "northernness", the Timespan Museum is putting together an exhibition and series of events reflecting upon former Prime Minister John George Diefenbaker, and his ancestral connections with the Sutherland region. Diefenbaker descended on his mother's side from the Bannerman family, who were forced to leave Kildonan (just outside of Helmsdale) during the Highland Clearances in 1813. Diefenbaker himself came to visit this ancestral region twice-- once during his first year as Prime Minister in 1958, and ten years later in a more personal capacity in 1968.
Timespan intends to celebrate these connectons with an exhibition, walking tour, oral history series, and even a 1950's style motorcade to Diefenbaker's family homestead. The University of Saskatchewan Archives and Special Collections was pleased to be able to offer both audio and photographic materials from the Diefenbaker papers to further enrich this experience. In return, we have been grateful to have many of our own photos of Diefenbaker's visits identified by individuals from the area who can remember those events.