In my last blog post, Frederick Walter Lee: the life of a Painter, Teacher, Photographer, Poet, Musician and Activist, I wrote about the unique life of one of Chilliwack’s most well-rounded artist. Admittedly, my inspiration for this blog post came from a phone call I received earlier in 2018 from Beth McLean, an employee of the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan.
To my surprise and delight, Beth had an original F. W. Lee watercolour painting and she wanted to donate the image to our Archives. After a phone call, some brief email correspondence, and a completed deed-of-gift form, Beth kindly mailed us the watercolour image which we added to the Frederick Walter Lee fonds.
I asked Beth if she would be comfortable sharing her story for a future “Coming Home” blog piece on the painting that she donated. Beth was happy to share how she came across the painting, found our institution, and decided to donate the painting to us. Beth kindly shared the following story with us:
“I can tell you that it was a few summers ago when I stopped at a house where there was a garage sale on the driveway. The painting’s quality and style caught my eye from several yards away as I was walking from the car. I believe they were asking $2 and I could hardly believe my luck. I definitely thought this was my Antiques Roadshow moment.
When I got home, I searched for the artist online and came across the Chilliwack Archives collection description of one of Mr. Lee’s works. Reading about his time in Saskatchewan was interesting as it possibly explained why the painting was at a garage sale in Regina, even though it was painted later in his life. Perhaps he had made a friend here and the painting was a gift?
After a discussion with my Provincial Archivist, I contacted you [Chilliwack Museum and Archives] in hopes that your Archives would like the painting to come home.”
Nearly every archival record, artifact, and cultural object at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives is here because of donations from the community. Often these donations come from local families, individuals, and organizations. Increasingly in the digital age more donations significant to Chilliwack history are coming home from across the country or even as far away as England and Texas.
In order to preserve and tell Chilliwack’s history, we rely on the generosity of donors willing to part with their precious archival material. I would like to personally thank all donors who have taken their time to stop by the Archives and donate material.