Alexandra Montgomery (BA'10)

A day in the life

Alexandra Montgomery (BA'10)


That’s what I love about museums—you see the stuff of history. You see the things they held, the tools they used, the places they lived. It brings it alive for me. It feels more relevant somehow.

Finding her calling

While at Dalhousie, Alexandra Montgomery says she floundered for a few years, starting in Women’s Studies and then transferring to English. But nothing felt quite right and she considered dropping out. Then she got a summer job at the Cole Harbour Rural Heritage Farm and, as they say, the rest is history.

“History never dawned on me as a career opportunity before,” she says. “But here I was, hanging out in a dark room and dealing with the physical stuff of history. I was having a ball. I switched my major to history and it’s been smooth sailing ever since.”

In her last year of university Alexandra won three major history prizes: the Department of History’s Commonwealth & British essay prize; the David Alexander Prize awarded by the University of New Brunswick for the best essay in Atlantic Canadian history; and one of 10 prizes in the annual Canadian undergraduate essay competition held by the North American Conference on British Studies.

Right after graduating, she started an internship with the Association of Nova Scotia Museums working on a pilot project investigating the use of QR codes on artifacts and displays. The codes can be scanned with a smartphone to link to websites for such additional information as oral histories, photos, and information about related artifacts—“all the deeper stories that don’t fit on labels,” says Alexandra. For small community museums, the QR codes will help to enrich the museum-going experience without a huge expense, integrating history with the Internet and mobile technologies.

The job allows her to travel to small, mostly volunteer-run museums throughout the province—the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame one day, the Anna Swan Museum in Tatamagouche the next—but she sees graduate school in her future.

“It makes sense in retrospect, me being here, but it took me a while to figure it out,” she says. “I’m a big advocate of needing to know why you’re doing something. And if you want something bad enough, you can make it work for yourself.”