For all of you looking forward to learning something new about the wonderful and exciting world of geographical names, you may be disappointed by this post. Today you get to learn about me.
My name is Ronald Kelland, but most people call me Ron (actually, my family calls me Ronnie, but please don’t do that). I started working for the Government of Alberta on December 1, 2007 as an intern with Athabasca University’s Heritage Resources Management Program. While taking online classes with the university, I did research and some administrative tasks for the Historic Places Designation Program. This mainly consisted of researching the history of buildings and other cultural sites for designation as Provincial Historic Resources. Most of my duties consisted of writing Statements of Significance for these resources to explain why they are valued. Of the ones I have written, my favourite ones are the Canadian National Railways Locomotive 6060, the Northern Defence Radar Station near Cold Lake, and the Sunnyslope Sandstone Shelter (say that five time real fast!) near Three Hills. In July 2009, I left the intern program and became a proud member of the public service. It was at this time that I also became the Coordinator of the Geographical Names Program. In this position I research the origin and meaning of Alberta’s place names and I evaluate proposed new names for geographical features and advise the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation in their deliberations and decision-making on these names. I also maintain the Alberta Geographical Names Database and other records about Alberta’s naming heritage. In December 2010, I assumed the role of primary historian for the Rutherford House Historic Site and Museum, researching the history of the house and the Rutherford family and using this information to aid in developing interpretive displays.
Prior to my current job, I worked for the Alberta Legislature Library. I was a researcher and writer for the book The Mantle of Leadership: Premiers of the North-West Territories and Alberta, 1897-2005, part of The Centennial Series (a four-volume set of books published by the Legislative Assembly of Alberta). Once that project wrapped-up, I worked as a researcher and report writer for the Committees of the Legislative Assembly, primarily the Public Accounts Committee and the Standing Committee on Government Services.
I was born in St. John’s and I still feel a strong connection to Newfoundland. I was raised in Alberta (primarily Red Deer) and have a great appreciation of the heritage and history of this province. I have been able to use my connection to both Newfoundland and Alberta to great advantage, successfully completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in History at the University of Calgary in 1998 (for which I concentrated on Western Canadian history) and a Master of Arts degree in History at Memorial University of Newfoundland in 2001 (for which I concentrated on Newfoundland’s history). Apparently one graduate degree was not enough to satisfy me, so I entered the Master of Library and Information Studies program at the University of Alberta, which I completed in 2010.
In my personal life I am married to an incredibly patient and understanding woman (I think that one has to be patient and understanding to be married to a historian – we do tend to go on about our work and research). We have three great kids (a five year old boy and three year old twin girls), making us a very happy, but very busy family. In my spare time I like to read (voraciously), cook (reasonably well), sing (badly) and play computer games (probably too much). I also build model cars and planes and am about to embark on a model railroading project in my garage (if it ever warms up again).
Back at my job, my priorities over the next year are to begin travelling the province more and meeting with local history groups and societies, spreading (and hopefully receiving) information about Alberta’s place names. I am also working on making the Alberta Geographical Names Database publicly available through the internet.
I welcome any inquiries about our province’s place names. So, if you ever wanted to know why we call that lake, creek, mountain or whatever by such-and-such a name, or if you are interested in proposing a name for a geographical feature, please feel free to get in touch with me or drop a comment into our blog. I hope that I will hear from many of you over the upcoming months.