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Digitizing Artifacts at the WDM

Poster advertising a July 1 show in Moosomin, likely 1940s – 50s. Click on image to enlarge.

On October 4, 2023, a few WDM staff members spent a morning at the University of Saskatchewan’s Digital Research Centre to make high-resolution scans of 19 large posters from our artifact collection. 15 of these posters advertise Nicholas Lewchuk’s travelling midway and vaudeville shows.

Nicholas Lewchuk was born in Ukraine in 1896. His family brought him to Saskatchewan as a child in 1902, settling near Canora. In 1914, he attended a magic show in Canora and decided that he wanted to make a career as a performer as well. In 1918, just four years later, he performed his first vaudeville show under the name “Professor N.P. Lewchuk,” or just “Professor Lewchuk.” In 1920, he took his show on the road. This was the beginning of almost four decades of travelling performances by him.

Ukrainian-language poster advertising the Lewchuk magic and vaudeville show c. 1925. N.P. Lewchuk performed in both Ukrainian and English. Click on image to enlarge.

In the 1940s, Professor Lewchuk added midway rides and other attractions to draw in larger crowds. Lewchuk’s midway and shows continued to travel until 1968, when the midway was set up permanently in Canora. Professor Lewchuk passed away in 1989 at the age of 93.

Nicholas Lewchuk was heavily involved in the Canora community. He won Canora Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year in 1982, and in 1983 he received the Canora Community Service award. In 1997, he was posthumously recognized by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress – Saskatchewan Provincial Council with their Nation Builders Award. This award is given to people of Ukrainian heritage who go above and beyond in their service to their communities.

The oversize scanner setup at the Digital Research Centre. Click on image to enlarge.

This collection of posters, mostly from the 1930s – 60s, came into the WDM artifact collection in 2006. Due to their large size (one of the largest is 104 x 71 cm, or nearly 3.5 x 2.5 feet), we had previously been unable to make digital copies of these posters. However, by working with the University of Saskatchewan’s Digital Research Centre, we were able to use their oversize scanner to safely scan these artifacts.

Large boxes were made to protect the posters during transportation. When bringing the posters to the university, the plan had been to unload these large boxes at the Murray Library loading bay, but it was completely blocked off due to construction, which meant they had to be carried a fair distance from a parking lot to the library. On top of this, it was raining that morning.

Poster advertising a Lewchuk vaudeville show c. 1925. Click on image to enlarge.

To ensure the posters were safe from any possible water damage, staff carefully wrapped the boxes in large garbage bags and sealed them with tape. In total, it took about two hours to set up and scan all 19 posters.

Having access to digital copies of these posters will help us preserve them for the future, reducing how often the artifacts must be handled. It will also allow us to make replicas of these posters should they be needed for exhibits, protecting the originals from the risk of damage from light exposure.

Learn more:

Professor Lewchuk’s Travelling Midway >>

Lewchuk Negative Collection>>

By: Kaiti Hannah
Curatorial Associate

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