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The Coliseum – An Idea Waiting in the Wings

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by Tristan Evans

Recently the City announced plans to rename the Prospera Centre the Chilliwack Coliseum.  For new residents of Chilliwack, this announcement may mean very little.  However, long-term residents of Chilliwack will have fond memories of the original Coliseum, affectionately called the “Old Barn on Corbould.”  Prior to and immediately following the closure of the original Chilliwack Coliseum in 2004, a flurry of articles appeared in both The Chilliwack Times and The Chilliwack Progress expressing fond memories of the Old Barn.  Since it’s demolition, little has been written about the building.  The surprise announcement two weeks ago provides us with an opportunity to look back on Chilliwack’s original Coliseum and learn what made it so significant to this community. 

Aerial view of unfinished Coliseum, ca. 1950s. 
[P. Coll 42, file 90]
Aerial view of unfinished Coliseum, ca. 1950s.
[P. Coll 42, file 90]

Following World War II, Chilliwack residents called for an athletic community centre as a memorial to those that passed away.  In 1945, City Council designated the Agricultural Ground as the site of a new sports centre.  Assisted by the Chilliwack Rotary Club, the Chilliwack Recreational Centre Association started raising money for the new facility in 1947 under the slogan, “Let’s Skate in ‘48.”  With half the funds raised, construction for the facility began in 1948.  Unfortunately, erection of the new facility halted and the plan quickly sank as the infamous flood of 1948 breached dykes in Agassiz, Chilliwack, Nicomen Island, Glen Valley, and Matsqui. 

The half-finished structure languished for many years as strong opposition in the Township of Chilliwhack viewed it as an unnecessary luxury and a burden for taxpayers.  By 1953, voters in the Township slowly started to come around to the idea.  A close referendum that overwhelming passed in the City was only marginally voted down in the Township.  Through a variety of volunteer and fundraising efforts, a roof and seats were finally installed in 1955.  Still unfinished, 1800 people came to a “Grand Opening Concert” on May 13, 1955 to watch the Our Lady of Lourdes gymnastics team and the Royal Canadian Engineers band from Camp Chilliwack perform.   

After the Grand Opening Concert, support for the Memorial Arena (as it was referred to at the time) soared.  With growing calls to finish construction, the Township of Chilliwhack, City of Chilliwack, Agricultural Association, Federal government, and Provincial government finally came together and contributed the final costs ($150,000) to complete the arena in 1958 under the updated slogan, “We Skate in ’58.”

Chilliwack Progress Press Photo: First Hockey Game at the Coliseum, 5 November 1958
[P. Coll 106 – Unnumbered]

On November 5, 1958, the Chilliwack Flamingos played the first hockey game in the new Chilliwack Coliseum, drawing a crowd of over 1200 for a 7-7 draw against the Nanaimo Clippers.  From 1958 to 2004, a plethora of Chilliwack teams called the Coliseum home including but not limited to the Chilliwack Flamingos, Chilliwack Loggers, Chilliwack Bruins, Chilliwack Colts, and Chilliwack Chiefs.  The early 1960s featured a few WHL and NHL exhibition games at the Coliseum when the Red Wings took on the San Francisco Seals on October 1, 1961 followed by the Toronto Maple Leafs vs the San Francisco Seals on September 25, 1962. 

Many other memories occurred in the Coliseum’s 46 years of operation, some of which can be read in a Chilliwack Times feature on April 16, 2004 at the Chilliwack Archives.  A short list of other sports and events that occurred at the Coliseum include: figure skating championships; concerts; conventions; public skating; football; and the Chilliwack Fall Fair.

The official opening occurred on December 27, 1958.  For those interested, the Chilliwack Archives has a recording of opening night from CHWK Chilliwack Radio (AM 393, file 73).  The Old Barn on Corbould had a special place in Chilliwack’s sporting history.  Whether it was figure skating, a concert, or a hockey game, perhaps you have a favourite memory at the original Coliseum?

Reflecting on my Summer

Posted on: August 31st, 2019 by Anna Irwin

By Jordan Sheffield, Archives Summer Student

Working in the Chilliwack Museum and Archives this summer has been a fantastic experience, full of interesting challenges, and learning opportunities.  This cannot be truer than in my experiences in working on the two exhibits that took up an enormous amount of my work at the archives, the first being the Five Faces, Five Corners: The Social Experience of Chilliwack’s Downtown, and the second being my own mini exhibit, A Day with the Doctor.  These two displays were different for all manner of reasons (scope, involvement, budget, time and even more that I cannot hope to list), so reflecting on the means and ends of both displays over the past couple days has been interesting and something I thought I might share. The whole experience in both exhibits has been fantastic and has certainly given me a greater appreciation for the odd complexities and issues that curators have to face when putting together a display they can feel pride in.

For some context, I joined the museum and archives staff at just about the most chaotic time possible, exhibit changeover.  Entering into my first few days the changeover of the temporary gallery was already well under way.  Anna, our curator, had already been working on the exhibit preparations for months before any actual work on the gallery itself began.  I took part in detail painting, putting up the vinyl text segments and photographs (basically giant stickers), cleaning, aligning lighting (being 6’7” certainly helped with that), mount-making, as well as working with artifacts that were being put on display.  The work was often very detail-oriented and forced me to take into account problems that I wouldn’t have considered prior; paint for example, needs to sit and off-gas once applied to plinths before they can be used. With all this said the exhibit came together wonderfully and made for an amazing introduction to the job.

Having come from helping out in the Five Corners exhibit, I had a small inkling of what I was in for when designing my own exhibit.  The first step was deciding on the topic I would be working on. I started looking into advertising as a possible exhibit topic, but I ended up going with my second idea: medicine. Once the idea was given the go-ahead, I needed to learn just how much could go into the case and which artifacts best highlighted what I wanted to discuss.

Greek Tear Vases; 1957.019.052a-b; [photo by Jordan Sheffield]

The first significant cut came to a small section on one of the most unusual aspects about the doctor: his collecting. Dr. McCaffrey regularly collected objects from around the world, including a pair of Greek tear vases from ~500 BCE. During the early phase of research, I had been worried about not having enough text or objects. Suddenly, I had too much and needed to reduce and refine the content! Once I had an idea of the space I was working with, things finally started to fall into place. 

Finalizing drafted labels was another challenge in the exhibition development process! For the most part, this involved formatting and reducing the size of my labels to make sure that the labels and text were easy to read and the text was able to be read by visitors of all ages. This had brought me nearly to the end of my exhibit now as most of the major thinking had already been completed and what I had left to do was to put all the final pieces together into one cohesive whole.  After all the build up to reach this point, the final stages almost felt underwhelming – it’s amazing how quickly an exhibit comes together once all the pieces have been pre-crafted. While the previous steps had taken weeks of work, the final step (the actual mounting of the exhibit) was done in a day. It was an odd feeling when the case was locked, with artifacts beyond my reach, because it had matured from a simple draft on the back table to fully finished. Once it had settled in that the project was fully done, I felt an enormous relief and pride that it was all complete!

A Day with the Doctor display at the Chilliwack Archives; [Photo by Anna Irwin]

Party in the Park

Posted on: July 10th, 2019 by Tristan Evans

When you work with archival records five days a week your mind sometimes skews timelines and it’s hard to consider what is truly ‘long ago.’  Only recently have we started to receive donations from the 1980s.  Working everyday with our records, I consider the 1980s to be relatively new, never mind the 1990s or early 2000s.  This was glaringly evident to me when I wrote a blog post on the snow storm of 1996.  Truth be told, besides a few Chilliwack Progress articles and photographs, we haven’t received many donations about this event yet. Compared to the records describing the 1935 ice storm, the snow storm appears to have had little impact.

While we know records from the snow storm of 1996 will eventually find their way into the Archives, it’s sometimes hard to think about the 1990s or early 2000s as ‘long ago.’  2006 and 2007 may feel like yesterday, but the following events actually occurred twelve and thirteen years ago.  Just long enough for us to begin having a little historical perspective on them. 

If you will, let me indulge you with a little story about one of my favourite events:

Chilliwack Court House 
[PP500910]
Chilliwack Court House
[PP500910]

I am biased.  I like parties, music, and I live downtown, so I really like Party in the Park.  Naturally, I also like to know the history of events (I wouldn’t be very good at my job if I wasn’t interested in history).  Turns out, Party in the Park has been around just long enough to write about. 

The land that is Central Community Park was once the home of the Chilliwack Court House, originally built in 1894.  The original courthouse survived two separate fires in 1906 and 1949.  Unfortunately, a third fire completely destroyed the building in 1951.  Today the only surviving remains from this building is the courthouse sign that can be seen right now in our temporary exhibit, Five Faces Five Corners: The Social Experience of Chilliwack’s Downtown (nice plug, right). 

After a few transformations, the area was eventually known as the Jean McNaughton/Happy Wilkinson Parks and home to a Chilliwack Farmers Market.  In 2005, the City of Chilliwack, Rotary International, and the Downtown Business Improvement Association (BIA) began construction on a collaborative project called, Central Community Park.  The idea was to create “a splendid place where everyone in the community is welcome to fully enjoy outdoor performances, special events festivals, and to learn about the history of the parks and the surrounding area.”  Central Community Park officially opened on Friday, October 13, 2006 and was designed by architect Rob Powers. 

Chilliwack Farmer's Market, ca. 1984. 
William Craven fonds [2016.032.002.1117]
Chilliwack Farmer’s Market, ca. 1984.
William Craven fonds [2016.032.002.1117]

To celebrate opening day the City of Chilliwack, the BIA, and Rotary International put together a weekend of celebrations called – wait for it – Party in the Park.  The first event featured speakers, dignitaries, and music from both Central Elementary and Chilliwack Senior Secondary schools.  According to an account from The Chilliwack Progress, Mayor Clint Hames predicted the new facility will be a focal point for future cultural activities in the downtown core

Following architect Rob Powers advice that, “the community [had] to start building new traditions around the park,” the City of Chilliwack, the BIA, and Rotary organized a series of Party in the Park events the following summer.  Each Friday between June 29 and August 24, 2007, these three organizing parties hosted what has now become the annual Party in the Park. 

The first summer Party in the Park occurred on June 29, 2007 and featured a Farmers Market at 5:00 PM, kids activities at 6:00 PM and live music at 7:30 PM. As so often happens in Chilliwack, poor weather threw a wrench into the scheduling and the local rock band, Relic’s Jetboat, was ultimately unable to perform that night.  Fortunately, the band was able to be rescheduled for the final Party in the Park date for the summer and played on August 24, closing off the festival with a bang.

Construction of Jean McNaughton/Happy Wilkinson Parks, July 5, 1983. 
William Craven fonds [2016.032.002.434]
Construction of Jean McNaughton/Happy Wilkinson Parks, July 5, 1983.
William Craven fonds [2016.032.002.434]

The exact dates of Party in the Park have changed over the years but the event is now considered a Chilliwack tradition. The event has grown to the point that venders often spread out beyond Central Community Park onto Mill Street and Wellington Avenue. Although the event changes from year to year, in my humble opinion, the heart and original goal of the event remains constant, bringing together the community of Chilliwack for a night of fun and solid cheer. Oh yeah, that and the opportunity to hear some rock-solid local musical talent.

Volunteer Spotlight – Ev Parker

Posted on: June 5th, 2019 by Tristan Evans

Are you curious to know what Chilliwack looked like in the 1980s?  Ask our volunteer Ev Parker who is currently processing a large collection of street photographs from the 1980s.  This is a unique collection that Ev is digitizing and describing so that you, the researcher, can access the images online.  To learn more about Ev and his work at the Archives, read his answers to the questions below:

Ev Parker
Photo courtesy of Ev Parker

When did you start volunteering at the Archives?

November 2015.

Why did you decide to volunteer for the Chilliwack Museum and Archives?

Being slightly familiar with Chilliwack, I enjoyed what the Museum and Archives had hidden within its walls and found it was beyond fascinating.  Some information I was familiar with previously but with a little searching, it became obvious a massive amount about Chilliwack was available to the public.  If people only knew what was available for public viewing, there would be far more people visiting the Archives.

What type of work do you perform when you are at the Archives? 

Data entry, scanning pictures and documents, looking up information, adjusting numbering systems when an item has been removed, dusting and vacuuming. When people that are familiar to me visit the Archives I try and make them feel comfortable.  I also visit with people I know when they come into my work space.   

Ev Parker
Photo courtesy of Ev Parker

Do you have a favourite memory at the Museum and Archives? 

Too many to itemize but just about every time I’m there Tristan or Anna will enlighten me with something I wasn’t aware of, making it more desirable to come back.

Is there anything else you would like to mention regarding your work at the Archives? 

It is really unbelievable how much information is there for ANYONE to have and to hold, read or use, for any purpose. 

Ev Parker volunteers every Wednesday morning at the Archives.  If the doors are not open by 9:01 AM, he’ll let you know.  We like to refer to this time as Ev’s office hours since he regularly receives visitors during this time period.  Sometimes, those visitors even stay to do a little research of their own!  Interested in knowing more about Chilliwack history?  Stop by on a Wednesday morning and we’ll be happy to show you how to search our records or just enjoy a short chat with our amazing volunteer, Ev Parker.    

Volunteer Spotlight – Lawrie Edwards

Posted on: April 26th, 2019 by Tristan Evans

Have you ever wondered how one archivist, one curator, and one archives technician have managed to describe and make available online 3,884 archival records, 1,169 library records, 9,880 object descriptions, and digitize 14,781 photographs all while doing the rest of the work keeping the Museum and Archives running?  The answer is simple really, we haven’t.  A huge amount of our descriptive material is done by Chilliwack volunteers who generously give their precise time week after week.

Lawrie Edwards at the Archives
January, 2015

Volunteers are quite literally the reason we have been able to describe and make available so much of our archival and object collection.  Volunteers research photographs, objects, and archival collections and then put in the hard, and not always exciting, work of entering descriptions for each collection.  The work is tedious and not immediately rewarding.  It is however the reason you are able to search and find so many online descriptions of our records.

Today I would like to highlight one volunteer who has been volunteering at the Archives since April, 2012.  Lawrie Edwards is a resident of Fairfield Island who moved to Chilliwack in the 1980s.  Lawrie volunteers every Friday morning and he is a huge part of the reason we have so many descriptions for our archival records.  I asked Lawrie today if he wouldn’t mind answering a couple questions and below is what he had to say:

Why did you decide to volunteer for the Chilliwack Museum and Archives?

I’ve always been interested in History.  After retirement I completed our Family tree back to the late 1700s in Wales.  My wife’s family on both sides settled in Chilliwack in the 1880s and so I decided to allocate a morning doing research of the Chilliwack area. 

What type of work do you perform when you are at the Archives? 

Mostly computer work, data description, and researching from the archives and through the archival Progress Papers.

Do you have a favourite memory at the Museum and Archives?

Every Friday morning is memorable but the 2017 British Columbia Historical Federation conference the Chilliwack Museum hosted was particularly memorable. 

Is there anything else you would like to mention regarding your work at the Archives?

Just nice to be associated with a great working crew at the Museum and Archives (No, I did not pay him to say that). 

Lawrie Edwards is an amazing volunteer.  He’s been dedicating his time for seven years at the Archives!!!  Once again, I’m going to borrow a phrase from my favourite podcast, The Secret Life of Canada, shout out to Lawrie Edwards!!!

Conferences Make a Difference

Posted on: March 22nd, 2019 by Tristan Evans

We all know the conference stereotype.  You sit through a boring lecture pretending to listen while you patiently wait to cash in those conference drinks at the hotel bar.  To be fair, most of us have been to such a conference wondering if this was really the best use of our time.  We forgive these occasional sleepy conferences for the ones that stand out.  As a relatively new professional working for a small institution, conferences are a powerful tool. 


Captain John Swalis of Soowahlie First Nation, unknown date [AM 362, File 263(D)]

Conferences allow me to connect with other regional archivists and confirm that I’m keeping up with up-to-date standards.  This is when I have the opportunity to bounce ideas around, learn from bigger and smaller (yes, there are smaller institutions) archives, and learn about new resources and recommendations.  Occasionally, I’m lucky enough to attend a conference that really stands out above the rest.  Like my favourite podcast, The Secret Life of Canada, sometimes you have to give an occasional shout-out to something or someone extra special.  I’ll use this platform today to shout-out to the 2019 Canadian-American Archives Conference hosted by the Western Washington University Archives and Records Management Program

This year’s conference theme was Indigenous Issues in the Archives: Representation and Reconciliation.  The conference began with Juanita Jefferson, a Lummi elder.  Juanita began by discussing the challenges she faced gathering information from other archives about her community.  Then we learned about how her and her community have worked to create their own archives.  It was a very inspiring presentation and left me with some wonderful ideas on how to improve relations with our institution and the communities that we serve around Chilliwack. 


A portrait of two First Nations girls holding a Salish Woolly dog. Photograph was taken by James O. Booen, Chilliwack, BC’s first professional photographer (c. 1895-1897). [P. Coll 120, P25]

Before we broke for lunch, I learned the different perspectives and challenges with indigenous records from the Canadian side and American side.  Camille Callison, a member of the Tahltan Nation in Northern BC, examined her experience with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC).  Importantly, she went on to show examples of specific recommendations that archives and libraries can act on in response to the TRC’s Final Report and Calls to Action.  Her presentation was followed by Jennifer O’ Neal, an archivist and historian with the University of Oregon and a member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, discussing the development of the Society of American Archivists’ adoption of the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials.  Importantly, both Camille Callison and Jennifer O’Neal explained various traditional indigenous knowledge systems and possible ways to incorporate these systems into archival descriptions and learning for indigenous researchers.  The experience was incredibly eye opening and left me with pages of notes and ideas to take back to this institution. 

The conference concluded with two non-indigenous archivists, Richard Pearce-Moses and Randall C. Jimerson, and their experience working with indigenous records and researchers.  I learned the challenges they faced from other archivists trying to implement simple steps in an attempt to decolonize how we keep and classify indigenous records in a system that was created out of Western European ideology. 

In short, some conferences really do make a difference.  I’m very thankful that I work for a board and director that sees the advantages of professional development and continues to support our staff in this capacity.  I hope to continue to broaden my perspective and implement changes on how we approach indigenous archival material here at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives.  Some steps are simple, some will require years of consultation and challenging changes.  This conference was a great learning opportunity and I’ll use this platform to give a final shout-out to the Western Washington Archives and Records Management program for hosting an incredible event. 

Surviving the Great Snow Storm

Posted on: February 16th, 2019 by Tristan Evans

Perhaps you noticed that the Museum was closed this past Tuesday and Wednesday while Chilliwackians hunkered down during our most recent snow storm.  If you have friends and family from nearly anywhere else in Canada, you’ve probably already heard every joke there is about how badly we handle snow in the Fraser Valley.  Rest assured, Ontario is not the sole snowy province in Canada.  If you are looking for some ammunition to defend your snow reputation, just ask some of the long-term locals about the truly great snow storm of 1996.

Chilliwack Progress Press Photograph: Digging out a school, 31 December 1996.

Christmas Day 1996 was a typical cold, but clear day.  Those visiting their family in the Fraser Valley could not have known the storm that lay ahead.  According to Environment Canada, 18 cm of snow fell in Chilliwack on December 26th followed by an addition 3.2 cm the following day. This precursor was just a warm up (or should I say snow base) for the real storm.  Then, on December 28th, 42 cm of snow fell in town.  Three-hundred and twenty people were forced to take shelter at Evergreen Hall alone.  Unprepared, those seeking refuge in Evergreen had to sleep on the floor.  The following day, another 39 cm of snow fell.  Despite MLA John Van Dongen’s resistance, the Ministry of Transportation and Highways had no choice but to close the highway between Chilliwack and Abbotsford.

By Sunday, December 29th, 982 people, 20 dogs, several cats, and one parakeet were seeking snow asylum at Evergreen Hall and the Hall was at full capacity. With the exception of Army trucks, vehicles were banned from driving.  Nevertheless, Chilliwackians showed their true colours.  Neighbours poured into Evergreen Hall and other shelter facilities to assist the City and the Salvation Army with cooking.  Many of those seeking shelter were offered beds at nearby private residences.  Archives volunteer Lawrie Edwards remembered opening up his house for a fellow BC Tel worker for three days.  Local stores, including Fraser Valley Meats, donated food delivered by army trucks.  Eventually the storm cleared and by December 31, Evergreen was once again empty for the holidays.

Chilliwack Progress Press Photo: Collapsed barn on Prairie Central Road, 31 December 1996.

Despite the incredible strain on emergency services, not a single individual lost their life during the great snow storm of 1996.  Nevertheless, Chilliwack still experienced its share of damage.  Digging out the schools alone cost $15,000.  At Vedder Middle School, a frozen fire main broke causing the gym to temporarily turn into an ice rink.  Barns throughout the Fraser Valley collapsed and a lot of domesticated animals on nearby farms suffered.

The following month The Chilliwack Progress received a plethora of letters from locals praising emergency responders.  Commemorative survival certificates were sold for $2 with proceeds going to help fund the Chilliwack Search and Rescue and the Chilliwack Children’s Fund.  While certainly challenged, no one can doubt that Chilliwackians stepped up when needed and overcame the great snow storm of 1996.  Let’s hope next week doesn’t bring freezing rain or the next blog article will be about the great ice storms of 1917 and 1935.

A Historic Night’s Sleep

Posted on: January 23rd, 2019 by Tristan Evans

On New Year’s Day,  the Chilliwack Progress predicted, “the year 1908 holds out great prospects for this little Valley… The expectations for this incoming year are great, the prospects greater, and the realizations will be the greatest of any.”  For new immigrants and re-settlers to the area, 1908 was a pivotal year marked with major changes.  The City of Chilliwack officially incorporated as a separate government entity from the Township of Chilliwhack.  The first Empress Hotel in Chilliwack opened, the new City of Chilliwack installed the first electric lights in downtown, and just two years later the British Columbia Electric Railroad opened the first passenger and freight rail line to Chilliwack on October 3, 1910.  As the City continued to expand that year, prominent local builder and architect Robert Harvey Brock began filling in the last vacant lot on the south side of Wellington Avenue between Main Street and Five Corners with the construction of the Royal Hotel.

 

Front view of the Royal Hotel, ca. 1912. [1977.006.035]

The Royal Hotel was the brain child of David Swain Dundas, the first owner.  He approached Robert Brock who then drew up the plans for the hotel.  J. C. Robertson completed the excavation work and laid down a concrete foundation for the building.  Upon completion, the three story hotel towered over local businesses in downtown Chilliwack.  The hotel featured many luxuries that we take for granted today including closets and bathrooms on every floor, steam heating, electric lighting, and telephone services.  After thoroughly touring and measuring every room in the hotel, one writer from the Progress finished the review of the hotel simply stating, “Mr. Dundas himself, has left nothing to be desired in hotel structure and modern conveniences.”

 

Although the Royal Hotel was well received, Dundas left the hotel business after just a few short years.  He sold the building to Cyrus W. McGillivary in 1912 for $47,000.  In 1926, Tom Berry bought the hotel from McGillivary.  Tom Berry’s son, Harry “Buck” Berry took over from his father in 1947.  The hotel was owned and operated by the Berry family until 1995 when Buck sold the building (CMA, AM 373 Tax Rolls).

 

Staff at the Royal Hotel beer parlour posing with customers. Left to right : Tony Britton, Bert Harwood, Vi Harwood, and Jack Pulford, 1952. [1999.065.002]

Large, colourful, and friendly owners, Tom and Buck Berry kept the hotel running through many renovations.  The biggest change during the Berry years came in 1950 when Buck bought the Royal Bank building on the corner of Main and Wellington.  Corresponding with new liquor laws in Chilliwack that allowed hotels to sell beer by the glass, Buck Berry merged the hotel with the old Royal Bank building and built a beer parlor in the building he called, the House of Blues.  To speed up service, staff wore roller skates as they rushed between the beer parlour and the kitchen, (CMA, Subject Files – Royal Hotel; CMA, 1999.065.002).

 

The hotel saw its share of disasters as well.  On July 29, 1958 lighting struck the Royal Hotel.  Instantly, “a gaping hole was ripped in the top of the Royal Hotel.  Seconds later the fire siren sounded and the city was alive with men, women, and children expecting the worst.  It was a miracle nobody was killed.”  An early response by the volunteer fire department saved the building.  Buck repaired the damage and the business continued.  Another fire damaged the hotel on August 9, 1974.  This time the fire started near the entrance and worked its way to the beer parlour, destroying the inside of the bar.  Undeterred, Buck again repaired the damage to the interior of the building.  Perhaps knowing how much the Royal Hotel owed the volunteer fire crew, among the many charitable activities sponsored by the Royal Hotel, Buck Berry also hosted the volunteer fire department’s annual banquet in the beer parlour.

 

Chilliwack Progress Press Photograph: The August 9, 1974 fire at the Royal Hotel, published August 14, 1974.

In 1995, Buck Berry sold the hotel.  The new owners began a massive renovation project beginning in May of 1996 and continuing through 1997 at the cost of $1,600,000 (CMA, Nicholas Desautels, 2016.023.001 file 7).  All thirty-four rooms were redecorated and upgraded.  Fourteen of the thirty-four rooms received special attention including, “restoration of wall-to-wall hardwood floors, an addition of a cast-iron claw foot tub to each room, and antique furniture in the form of chairs, wardrobes, and dressers” (CMA, Nicholas Desautels, 2016.023.001 file 7).  The old boiler system was replaced with high efficient gas units, and renovations to the exterior of the building were completed as well, always with an eye towards the historic significance of the building.

 

The Royal Hotel is not the oldest building in Chilliwack.  It’s not the grandest building in Chilliwack either.  It is however, a fantastic representation of a unique time and place in the history of Five Corners and downtown Chilliwack.  Should you have guests visiting and your spare bedroom is feeling a little cramped, encourage them to spend a night in one of the rooms at Chilliwack’s Royal Hotel.

Movember Part 2 – Rise of the Goatee

Posted on: November 21st, 2018 by Tristan Evans

Captain John Swalis of Soowahlie First Nation, unknown date [AM 362, File 263(D)]

Last Movember I wrote a blog highlighting some of the individuals from Chilliwack’s historic past rocking a solid mo.  The moustache is grown each November as a symbol of support to raise awareness for men’s health issues.  This year, in addition to the typical male pattern balding, men’s health issues have particularly struck home for my family as we overcome some men’s health obstacles.  For those of you still feeling intimidated about rocking a moustache in 2018, rest assured.  Creativity is allowed and Movember is not limited to the standard stache.  Let’s take a look at some of Chilliwack’s finer individuals that went beyond the moustache and donned some pretty elegant goatees during their life.

 

Beyond the Stache – Growth of the Goatee

 

Lewis William Paisley, ca. 189- [1984.002.013]

Captain John Swalis from the Soowahlie First Nation lived on the Th’ewa:lí settlement on the North bank of SWEE-ehl-chah (Sweltzer) Creek.  Like Chief K’hhalserten (Chief Sepass), Captain John Swalis lived during a challenging time of transition for his community and was widely respected both within his community and the growing re-settler community of the area.  According to Denys Nelson, Fort Langley 1827-1927: A Century of Settlement, Captain John first came into contact with the growing re-settler community in 1858 when he successfully navigated the American steamship, the Surprise, from Fort Langely to Fort Hope, proving that the Fraser River was navigable by steamship (P. 24).  Captain John was a resourceful builder and mover of goods.  He was instrumental in the construction of the Alexandria suspension bridge, established a ferry service across Ts’elxwéyeqw (Chilliwack) River, and designed and built the first permanent bridge at Vedder Crossing with other members of the Soowahlie First Nation.  Captain John helped construct the first church at Th’ewa:lí and vigorously advocated for his community.  Captain John was a leader in the Soowahlie First Nation for approximately 40 years.  He was born around 1810 and died December 9, 1908.

 

William Knight, unknown date. [PP500260]

Louis William Paisley was born July 1, 1860 at York, Ontario.  He farmed for a number of years at Whitechurch, Ontario before heading west in 1890, settling in Chilliwack.  Described as a man of great energy, initiative, determination and good judgement, Paisley was an active promoter of Chilliwack.  In addition to his involvement in real estate development and insurance with Samuel A. Cawley, he was also a highly successful auctioneer.  He was involved with the local Masonic Order, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, was president of the Agricultural Association, and secretary of the Dairymen’s and Livestock Association.  He purchased and brought into the valley purebred live stock, which was the nucleus of the fine dairy herds for which the Valley is now so well-known. He suffered a massive stroke in 1910, and passed away on October 14, 1914 at the age of 55 years.

 

Left to right, Tristan Evans and Greg Evans, Palm Springs, CA, December 2016.

William Knight was born on July 24, 1851 in Horton Township, Renfrew County, Ontario.  Knight moved west in 1870 to join the volunteers in the Riel Rebellion, then moved west in 1874 to the Cassiar gold fields.  Knight purchased a small sawmill at Popkum in 1878, and continued in that business for 22 years.  He married Mary Jane Jennie Kipp, eldest daughter of Isaac and Mary Ann (Nelmes) Kipp on April 23, 1883.  William and Mary had eight children together, four daughters and four sons.  Knight Peak is named in his honor.  William Knight passed away January 15, 1928.

 

And finally…

Dr. Greg Evans, father of Chilliwack Museum and Archives, Archivist (me), knows how to sport a solid goatee when the season is right.

Haunted Tales: Stories from Williams Street

Posted on: October 31st, 2018 by Anna Irwin

Photograph of the former W.E. Bradwin house near the corner of Williams Street and Portage Avenue in 1974. The subject of much local gossip, the house has since burned down. [Chilliwack Museum and Archives, 1989.042.001]

Near the corner of Portage Avenue and Williams Street once stood a white and green three-story house. Built in 1909 by travelling salesman W. E. Bradwin, the house, built with clapboard siding and equipped with six-bedrooms, became the centre of local legend in the mid to late 1960s.

Things That Go Bump In The Night:

Hetty Fredrickson moved into the house and resided in the house in the 1960s. Known throughout the community for her artistic flair, she taught art to her students from the basement of the house and was the vice-president of the Upper Fraser Valley Brush and Palette Club. Once settled into her new house, she, along with her husband Douglas Fredrickson, began to notice something was amiss.

In the dead of night, footsteps could be heard upstairs. Drawers could be found opened. Furniture, carefully arranged by the homeowners, moved out of place. In one instance, Hetty reported witnessing a light “in the shape of a human being, but with no details, no face.” (The Province, “Portrait of a Ghost” May 30, 1966) . Upon investigation, neither Hetty nor her husband could find the cause of such unusual activity and no logical explanation could be found by any who stopped by the house.

And people did stop by the house.

Hetty Fredrickson, pictured here with one of her paintings in 1965. [Chilliwack Progress Press Photograph, September 1, 1965. Chilliwack Museum and Archives, 1999.029.061.007.]

A Spirited Painting:

Using the unexplained occurrences as the basis for some of her art, Hetty painted a picture of the ghost in the hopes that by depicting it, that it would leave. The painting and her subsequent artistic pieces received widespread attention, spurred by stories of the occurrence in the house. Hundreds of people flocked to the downtown Chilliwack house, curious to catch a glimpse of the spirit at work. At one point, in 1966, Hetty Fredrickson submitted an application for a business license to City Council because she had “so many people wanting to see her ‘haunted house’ that she might as well charge admission.” (The Chilliwack Progress, July 20, 1966).  While the application was ultimately rejected, it was reported that 700 people showed up one Sunday for a tour of the premises!

New Residents, New Stories:

Following the Fredrickson’s move to Vancouver Island, odd occurrences continued to plague residents of the house. Tenants reported seeing shadows moving back and forth, doors banging closed and scaring pets living at the house, unexplained changes to the House’s thermostat… New theories about the ghost began to emerge to explain the wide plethora of baffling activities at the House. Was the house settling a contributing factor? Were residents imagining things? Perhaps it was more than one ghost? An anonymous resident speculated it could be a ghostly trio haunted the turreted house.

Charred Remains:

In the years after the departure of the Fredrickson’s, the Bradwin house caught fire twice. The first fire in 1972 was attributed to an overheated fireplace. The second fire in 1975 destroyed the House. A new house has been built in its place and, as far as we at the museum are aware, no unexplained incidents have happened since.