Celebrating Women in Heritage

#MuseumWeek is drawing to a close on social media.  It has been very interesting to see how museums around the world have approached the over arching theme of women as well as a variety of daily themes. To honour the last day of #MuseumWeek, and the daily theme of #Heritage, we look to celebrate some of the amazing women who work at Glanmore National Historic Site.

Currently there are 5 women working at Glanmore.  Three women work full-time at Glanmore, one works part-time, and another is seasonal.  We sat down with four of the museum’s female staff to ask them about working in the heritage field at the museum.

Rona Rustige, curator

Rona Rustige, curator

Q:How long have you worked at Glanmore?


Rona Rustige, curator: 27 years

Melissa Wakeling, education and marketing coordinator:  17 years.

Melissa Wakeling, education and marketing coordinator

Melissa Wakeling, education and marketing coordinator




Danielle McMahon- Jones, administrative and collections assistant: 2 years in my current position. I started as a summer student at Glanmore in 2010 and volunteered from 2012-2013.  I returned as an intern in 2014 and became a permanent staff member in 2015.

Emma Craig, public engagement assistant:  As a summer student position I started in May of this year and will finish in August.

Mary Jame Throop, weekend receptionist: Since 1997 (20 years!).

Q: Education/Experience Before Coming Here?

Rona:  B.A. (hon) and M.A. both in Anthropology, plus the Ontario Museum Association Certificate in Museum Studies.  I worked as education coordinator at the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes for 5 years and as curator at the

Danielle McMahon-Jones, administrative and collections assisstant

Danielle McMahon-Jones, administrative and collections assistant

Kingston Historical Society for three years.  I also worked at the Museum of Health Care at Kingston for 13 years as Curator.

Melissa: I have B.A. in History and Anthropology from Trent University as well as the Museum Management and Curatorship Post-Graduate Certificate from Fleming College.  Our Weekend Receptionist, Mary Jane and I were both in the very first Museum Management class at Fleming. Before coming to Glanmore and Belleville I worked in a variety of different community museums in both education and curatorial roles including the Peterborough Museum, Black Creek Pioneer Village, Muskoka Lakes Museum and the London Regional Children’s Museum.

Danielle: Most of my museum experience has been at Glanmore.  I have a B.A. (hon) in History and English from Ottawa University.  In 2014 I received a Post-Graduate Certificate in Museum Management and Curatorship from Fleming College.

Emma: I just finished my undergraduate degree in history and english at

Emma Craig, public engagement assistant

Emma Craig, public engagement assistant

Trent University.  In the fall I am headed to Dalhousie Univeristy to do my Masters in Library and Information Science!

Mary Jane: I have a B.A. in Classical Archaeology, University of Ottawa (1970s). I completed a Museum Technician Program at Algonquin College, Ottawa (1981-1983) and a Museum Management Program, Sir Sanford Fleming College (1994).

Q: What role do you play in protecting and sustaining the heritage and history of Glanmore?


Rona: I am responsible for the accurate restoration of the site and for acquiring the funds for restoration projects. I am also responsible for physical care, management and accurate presentation of the artifacts.

Melissa:  I coordinate all the education and public programs at Glanmore.  I ensure that programs are well researched, accurate and authentic and train staff and volunteers to deliver programs. I am involved an many other projects as well, including working on exhibits  Another of my key responsibilities is centred around developing and maintaining content for the museum website, blog and social media platforms.  The social media aspect has really become a big part of my job in the past few years.

Danielle: With the administrative part of my position I am able to greet visitors and share the stories of the original residents as well as the museum’s artifact collections.  With the collections part of my position it is a bit more hands on; I apply all standards for handling, care and storage of the artifacts.  I am able to build custom storage for artifacts to ensure they are properly preserved.  I am also able to display items for the public and i monitor their environment to ensure relative humidity, temperature and light levels do not negatively impact them.

Emma:  I work to educate school groups and the general public about Glanmore’s history as well as Belleville’s own history.  Right now I am working on the Belleville 200/Canada 150 exhibit which will be travelling around this summer.

Mary Jane: Monitoring the museum, providing information to visitors and answering questions on topic relating to Glanmore, and documenting information pertaining to the families who resides in the home.

Photograph, Mary Jane Throop

Mary Jane Throop, Weekend Receptionist


Q: What do you find important about preserving history?


Rona: People should understand and appreciate their heritage.  It makes them better citizens.

Melissa:  Preserving and learning about our history and heritage helps us feel more connected with our community and interconnected with one another.

Danielle: I believe that preserving history is important because it allows for exposure to lifestyles, values and perspectives that could otherwise be lost.  Being able to immerse the visitor in an historic environment is an amazing way to make connections to those who came before us and how we live and relate to each other today.

Emma: Preserving our history ultimately aids in making sure these resources are available to people for a very long time.  Looking back on our history and learning from it will always be important and we do our part to keep it going!

Mary Jane: You need to know where you came from and what happened before you. There are fun, crazy and interesting facts about Belleville and its area. When building disappear, people don’t remember. Making history fun for future generations help preserve it. Town Crier Bruce Beddell quoted, “a city without a past is a community without a future.”

Q: What does it mean to be a woman in the museum industry?


Rona: I never thought about it. I just did what I had to do.

Melissa: I think the museum field is primarily dominated by women these days.  They well educated, creative, smart, funny, passionate, talented and interesting.  I feel fortunate to work closely with a great group of women, the best part being that we are not in competition with each other, rather we are a team that supports one another and our individual talents allow each one of us to shine.

Danielle: Having the opportunity to preserve the past in the company of talented and creative women has been the most professionally stimulating and empowering experience.  To me being a woman in the museum field means setting an example and providing a space to ignite a passion for history in others and to inspire girls to embrace their interest in history.

Emma: For me it means that I am part of an outlying group that didn’t always have a part in the industry.  It makes me feel that I need to give voices to women and their stories and make museum spaces accessible to everyone.

Mary Jean: Overcoming the gender bias of the 1960s-1970s with regards to higher level positions and responsibilities. It also means that I need to encourage other young people in career goals and working with volunteers and encouraging their potential while making them feel comfortable.

Q: Do you have a favourite artifact in the museum?


Rona: Many, many favourites.  Probably the mermaid.  There is also an 1890s pen with a beautiful carved dog’s head on the top of it.  Also the dog paintings, of course!

Melissa: It seems impossible to choose just one but if I absolutely have to…We always say that the historic house is our number one artifact so I will have to go with that.  Since the recent restorations, it is just great to observe the visitor’s reactions to the house as they come through the front door.

Danielle: My favourite artifact in the museum is the Dutch secretaire in the south drawing room.  It is an exceptional example of 18th century marquetry and craftsmanship.  It is a stunning piece of furniture and being able to inspect it up close and care for it is definitely a highlight of my job!

Emma:  For me it is the hair pictures on display in the master bedroom.

Mary Jane: The Victorian fan with its own fan box.



Melissa Wakeling has a Bachelor of Arts from Trent University and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Museum Management and Curatorship from Fleming College. Melissa works as Education and Marketing Coordinator at Glanmore National Historic Site in Belleville, Ontario.