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Make It, Mend It: Tools of the Shoe Repair Trade

Posted on: October 18th, 2018 by Anna Irwin

The idea of repairing something can oftentimes take a backseat to purchasing a new item. Stores lined with new, shiny gadgets and niceties designed to make our lives easier often win out over rolling up our sleeves and fixing what we already own.
 

Selection of women’s and children’s footwear from the Chilliwack Museum and Archives collection [Photo credit: Anna Irwin]

These Boots Were Made For Walking?  

Buying new items when a problem occurs with an older object hasn’t always been the first instinct. Got a shoe separating from its sole? Today, we might head to Wellington Avenue, to one of the malls or look for a new pair online to see if something that might catch our eye. In the late 19th century and throughout the 20th century, however, purchasing a new pair of shoes was often a considerable investment for families, especially families with young children. Visiting a local cobbler or shoe store offering repair services, such as E.O. Wickham’s or A.E. Wiltshire Shoe Repair, could often extend the life of a pair of shoes, sometimes for decades depending on the level of care and maintenance paid to a pair of shoes and the material composition of the shoe.

 

Shoe Repair Kit donated by John Groves containing sole and heel menders. [Chilliwack Museum and Archives, 1977.028.025.1a-d]

Saving Your Sole: 

Re-soling or adding soles to shoes was (and continues to be, although much less common) one way of making shoes last longer. Sole and heel menders, such as the ones found in a Shoe Repair Kit donated to the Chilliwack Museum and Archives, could be attached to the underside of the shoe and were typically affixed with nails.

While driving nails into ones shoes may no longer be common outside of the cobbling profession, modern adhesives such as Shoe Goo allow for young and old alike to fully re-tread well-worn footwear, re-attach separating soles and fill holes at their convenience without use of a hammer or specialized tools.

 

Boot last featuring three forms – one for men, women’s & children’s shoes. [Chilliwack Museum and Archives, 2002.003.001; Photo credit: Anna Irwin]

A Lasting Impression: 

Shoe lasts were and continue to play a key role in the manufacture and repair of footwear. Traditionally made from wood or metal, shoe lasts are foot-shaped inserts used by cobblers to form and fill-out shoes while not being worn by a person. Shoe lasts come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes to accommodate the different styles of feet and the different types of shoes people wear. They can be used as a base around which to craft a shoe or as a form to hold the shoe’s shape whilst being repaired. Shoe lasts are different than shoe trees or shoe stretchers, which are used more frequently to hold or expand the shoe’s shape when not being worn.

 
 


At the Chilliwack Museum and Archives, we are proud to house a variety of artifacts that have been donated by the community, including examples of historic footwear and tools used to make and mend shoes and boots of all shapes and sizes. To donate to our object collection, please feel free to contact me by email at [email protected] or by phone at 604-795-5210 ext. 105.

Fresh Produce and Homemade Relish

Posted on: September 26th, 2018 by Tristan Evans

Kipp Family Packing Plums, ca. 1880s [2002.101.019]

One of my favourite features of Chilliwack is the large variety of produce stands in this city.  Whether you prefer large produce shops where you can buy all your fruits and vegetables such as Hofstede’s, Garrison Gourmet Greens, and Produce Gone Wild or you prefer seasonal drive-thru fruit stands, Chilliwack has them all.

 

With Chilliwack’s rich agricultural history, it may not surprise you to know that produce stands are not a new phenomenon.  The Kipp family used to sell boxes of plums from a small makeshift table in front of their house as early as the 1880s.  Many long time residents of Chilliwack may remember the Carter Family Fruit Stand on the Haas Hop Yard at Evans Road or Woo Farms Potato Drive-in at Chilliwack’s South Chinatown.  The most iconic produce stand in Chilliwack’s history might just be Christie’s Produce Stand.

Christie’s Service Station, 1936 [P7496]

 

James Christie and Caroline Runzer married in 1925 at the age of 38 and 25 respectively.  The relatively new immigrants to Canada opened a restaurant in Stony Plain, Alberta.  In 1935 a devastating fire destroyed their restaurant so the couple packed up shop and moved to Chilliwack. They purchased land on Yale Road West just south of Cheam Avenue near the gates of the City for $600.

 

Upon arrival in Chilliwack, James immediately built a Standard Oil gas station that contained the living quarters for the family and a small lunch counter.  The gas station was sold in 1939.  A newer Chevron station still operates at the same location as Christie’s gas station.  In a 2005 interview with the Chilliwack Progress, James and Caroline’s daughter Audrey Neufeld recalled how, “dad was quite an entrepreneur, he had all kinds of ideas, and he did it all right here.”  After selling the Standard Oil station, James and Caroline Christie built a new home to house their growing family just south of the gas station.

Christie’s Hot Dogs, ca. 1940s [P7497]

 

In front of the new house James built a small produce stand that also sold honey, ice cream, dill pickles, and hotdogs.  Just north of his produce stand James built a number of small commercial buildings that he leased out.  The hotdogs were served with a special relish made by Caroline.  She sourced her ingredients for the relish from her own garden.  Mrs. Caroline Christie’s famous hotdog relish recipe is available in a book, Chilliwack Pioneer Recipes.

 

Christie’s Hot Dog stand operated throughout the 1940s.  The family stopped selling hotdogs in the 1950s but kept Christie’s Farm Fresh Products open selling produce, honey, homemade dill pickles, candies, ice cream, tobacco, and camping supplies.  James and Caroline even began raising and selling chickens.  According to research by Sharon Lawrence, the family had 5000 chickens that were slaughtered, cleaned, and cooked.  They were used for lunch plates which consisted of half a cooked breaded chicken, homemade pickles, and homemade bun all for the price of $1.

Christie’s Produce, ca. 1950s. [P7498]

 

As the autumn colours come into full swing, I am reminded to stop by the produce stands and pick up a bag of apples.  Whether you prefer making apple pie or drying your apples for an outdoor adventure snack, make sure to support your local Chilliwack produce stand.

 

Disclaimer: Much of the material for this blog post comes from research by Sharon Lawrence and an interview from Audrey Neufeld conducted by Sharon Lawrence. 

The Chilliwack Progress: Heart of Our Community

Posted on: September 19th, 2018 by Tristan Evans

Guest blog by Archives Assistant: Laurie Benton

Have you seen the For Sale sign at the Progress’ Spadina Avenue office of late?

The first Chilliwack Progress building from the 1890’s with WT Jackman as Proprietor. [PP500552]

Will it be redeveloped or remain as commercial property? How will it impact the downtown core and commercial presence in the neighbourhood? Similar to other notable buildings going on the market around town, it made me recount the impact of these structures and subsequently what the change on the landscape will mean.  I immediately began researching the impact of our community newspaper and the history of the building itself.

Until post-war suburbia raced in and changed our downtown, the ‘heart’ of our community, it was thriving and bustling.  Not that this blog post is about our downtown specifically, but it is about identity and place.  Having a place to identify as the ‘heart’ of a community could have been easier for Chilliwack residents before the strong influence of the vehicle and subsequent development of the shopping mall.  Five Corners (previously known as “Centreville”) was a nucleus of commercial and social interaction and a short walk from many residential homes.  The Chilliwack Progress office has (whether it sought out to or not) shaped identity and place, in and for our community since the late 1800’s.

The first Chilliwack Progress building dates back to the 1890’s. William Thomas (W.T) Jackman purchased a printing and newspaper press in Toronto and shipped it to Chilliwack where he published the first edition of the Chilliwack Progress in April 1891 at 39 Yale Road East (now 46169 Yale Road East).  The Chilliwack Progress office was a three storey structure with glass front main floor and wooden sidewalk.

A stylish facade for the Progress building, 24 September 1958. [P.Coll 106 unnumbered]

Situated amongst some of the most frequented buildings in the downtown, The Chilliwack Progress was a thriving hub of information, activity and culture.  It shared real estate with the likes of the Commercial Hotel, a shoe store, On Lee laundry, the post office, a bakery, hardware store and drug store. Investigating a bit further into this building I found that the Progress remained at this address for 83 years!  Over time the building had a few face lifts, notably in the 30’s with a very stylish post- modern look.

What I find fascinating is that the Chilliwack Progress was the ‘heart and soul’ of our community.  For those that had lost something, wanted to gain a roommate or sell something, where did they go? The Progress! If you had donations of food or money that you wanted to give to a local charity, where could you drop such items off at? The Progress! Colouring a poster contest and want to drop off your submission, where should you go? The Progress!

1955- Please return these keepsake pearls to the Progress office.

A 1918 rental advertisement for a farm. Where should one apply? The Chilliwack Progress office.

 

 

 

 

 

An advertisement in the Chilliwack Progress, 26 June 1974 [https://theprogress.newspapers.com/image/77088771], invited the community to an open house for their new building on the corner of Hope and Spadina – its current location.  It boasted new “ultra-modern premises” that ranked with the “best in Canada”.  They cordially invited the community into their new facility for a behind the scenes tour as well as coffee and refreshments.  This sort of courtesy and openness is a product of the culture that was created over decades and through the words, attributes and action of all the contributors, writers and editors of our local paper.

Reading through old editions, I believe the sense of place persisted with the change in location.  But has being further from the downtown core changed the identity or heart?  As technology has shifted to a strong internet presence, the Chilliwack Progress has followed suit.  How has this technological change impacted the effect the Chilliwack Progress has on our community?  How do people today identify in our community?  Is there a disconnect between sense of place and the presence of ‘being’ online?  Interaction has a strong internet base and I struggle to deem this as ‘socializing’ nor does it have the same effect or impact in the community that the Progress had many years ago.

To be in the heart of a community, delivering an assortment of news and being a hub of activity and information is a great challenge and honour.  I am hard pressed to find a current example of such a place that could offer what the Progress did.  A local coffee shop? Local library? Museum, perhaps?  I  hope that the new home of the Chilliwack Progress offers an open door to the community,  ensuring identity and a strong sense of place continues.

 

 

 

Bridging History – Connecting the Public with the Past

Posted on: September 12th, 2018 by Tristan Evans

Painting of 1891 bridge by Carolyn Louise Wilson.
The 1891 bridge was designed and constructed by members of the Soowahlie and Skowkale First Nations including Capt. John SWA-lihs, David (sel-AHK-ee-ah-tihl), Commodore (sch-EE-eh-KWEHL), and Harry Uslick (way-OO-sehl-uhk). James Bailey and the Province assisted with the bridge trusses. [PP501752]

When done correctly, interpretive signage has the ability to be a great public history tool.  If done incorrectly, interpretive signage may not only be offensive, it can misinform the pubic on the history of an event, location, or historic site.  Careful consideration on what an individual or organization chooses to portray or omit on an interpretive sign is imperative.  By deciding what and how a historical event is told, interpretive signs often represent more the values of the society creating the signage than the historical event itself.  To put it simply, a good and lasting historic interpretive sign is hard to do.  So hard that the Yukon Department of Tourism has a 65 page Interpretive Signage Strategy!

With this in mind, early last summer I was contacted by City of Chilliwack staff who asked if I could help unearth some information for a new interpretive panel going up at Vedder Crossing.  Although challenging, I’m a big believer in public history and I believe when done with consideration, interpretative panels are a fantastic resource for the public.  In addition to contacting the Chilliwack Museum and Archives, the City also contacted and consulted with the Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre, other several City of Chilliwack staff members, and many other unnamed community members.  Throughout the summer and into the fall City staff researched, organized and collected our research, looked up and consulted on facts and spelling, asked for more research, consulted more, drafted a couple versions, did more research and consulting, and finally together with the design team came up with the final draft for the new interpretive bridge panel at Vedder Crossing.

Photograph depicts the 1918 wood truss bridge with the Riverside Pavilion in the background [1996.037.012]

This collaborative effort with the City of Chilliwack, Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre, and the Chilliwack Museum and Archives finally came together and the City produced the first in a series of interpretive signage at Vedder Crossing.  This panel has since been installed at Vedder Crossing.  It briefly touches on the history of the river and then goes on in greater detail to discuss the nine “permanent” bridges that have been built at this location.

While this first panel focuses on the history of the bridges, future panels will touch on the history of the Ts’elxwéyeqw (Chilliwack) River, the Vedder name and family, biology and fish species, and perhaps more.  Next time you go for a walk by the river at Vedder Crossing I hope you stop by the interpretive panel and take a moment to read about the challenges of constructing a lasting bridge in this location.

In these Smoky Times: Firefighting Vehicles in 1906 Chilliwack

Posted on: August 24th, 2018 by Anna Irwin

With intense fires gripping the west coast, fire safety is at the forefront of people’s minds. In Chilliwack today, we are fortunate to have 6 fire halls located throughout the City, staffed with firefighters, career and on-call alike, along with numerous volunteer fire departments stationed in more rural locations. While the bravery and determination of these men and women has remained constant over time, the vehicles used to fight fires in Chilliwack have changed substantially.

Man-Power: The Origins of Firefighting Vehicles in Chilliwack

P3492

Photograph featuring George Ford, an original member of the first fire brigade in Chilliwack and the 1906 hand-drawn hose reel. [Chilliwack Museum and Archives, P3492]

Based out of the blacksmith’s shop on Main Street owned by Chilliwack’s first Fire Chief, Thomas Knight Jr., the first brigade was formed shortly after the Wellington Street Fire in 1906. The original brigade was comprised of 27 volunteers who, in the event of a fire, were summoned to duty by sounding the church bell located at Cooke’s Presbyterian Church.

The first piece of equipment purchased by the newly founded brigade was a hand-drawn hose reel. Bought for the tidy sum of $100.00 from the City of Kamloops in 1906 (accounting for inflation, this amounts to more than $2,176 today), the hose reel was mounted on two large wooden spoke wheels and required four individuals to move. Once the hose reel was in place near the fire, the hose would be unwound and a nearby water source would be located to extinguish the fire. The hand-drawn fire hose cart, still in existence today, is proudly on display by the Chilliwack Fire Department at Chilliwack Fire Hall No. 1.

At the Chilliwack Museum and Archives, we are fortunate to have a small fragment of the original hose cart in our collection. The portion of wood water pipe, reinforced with wire, formed part of the unit’s central drum. It was removed in 2006 during the restoration of the hose cart.

Old-fashioned Horse-Power:

Handwritten list of the 27 original members of the first fire brigade in Chilliwack [Chilliwack Museum and Archives, Add. Mss 847]

To supplement the hand-drawn hose reel, the brigade also invested in a horse-drawn hose and ladder wagon that same year. While at least two wagons were considered for purchase, the wagon offered by the City of Vancouver was acquired for $100.00. As the name infers, the horse-drawn hose and ladder wagon, unlike the hose reel, relied on the use of horses to be transported to and from fires. Chilliwack Fire Department 1906-2006: The First 100 mentions that Chilliwack firefighters regularly jockeyed for the opportunity to have their teams of horses pull the wagon. Upon hearing the fire bell, firefighters raced to see who could arrive with their horse teams at the wagon first. Winning the informal competition provided not only a sense of civic pride for local firefighters, but also came with a small sum for temporary use of the horses.

Horse-Power Minus the Horses: Motorization of Fire Fighting

As time wore on and technology advanced, both the hand-drawn hose reel and the horse-drawn hose and ladder wagon were replaced with modern vehicles. With mass production of automobiles coming into its own in the early 20th century, the fire brigade bought its first motorized fire truck, a Ford Model-T, in 1925. Other examples of fire trucks soon followed suit within various fire halls throughout the community, including a volunteer-built fire truck for the Rosedale Fire Department in 1948.

 

Building a Mini-Exhibit: A Summer Student Perspective by Alec Postlethwaite

Posted on: August 8th, 2018 by Anna Irwin

During my time with the Chilliwack Museum and Archives I was tasked with creating a miniature exhibit for the archive’s reading room, a project which proved to be one of the most challenging projects I have taken on as a summer student.

Topic choice was the first challenge I needed to overcome. With Chilliwack’s history offering a diverse range of topics, it was difficult finding one that was both intriguing and able to be displayed in one display case.

Chilliwack Museum and Archives, 1997.021.002

Narrowing down topic choice was a long process.While I found lots of engaging stories, events, and timelines, I was always faced with the question of “Will other people find this interesting?”. Luckily, a few seemed like they would.

One of these topics was the logging of roads in the 1890s, which would become the roads Chilliwack still uses today. After a few afternoons of research, however, I realised that while there was enough information to know logging had happened, the amount of information I was able to find was not enough to mount a mini-exhibit.

I chose to find a new topic. After a few more hours researching and a following a few new ideas, I found the Pacific Coast Militia Rangers (PCMR). Digging through the archives, I managed to find plenty of useful information in a few short hours, including news articles, archival material, and artifacts. It appeared the only work left was to make some labels and put it all in a case.

Chilliwack and Archives, PP503985

At this point, I was faced again with the small size of the display case. While the case is large, it could not accommodate all of the material I had uncovered. After an editing process and considering space restrictions, I decided to narrow the topic to an exploration of the PCMR through a social lens. Scaling down the topic allowed for the topic to become more manageable and while allowing the amount of material to remain workable.  The result of this was an interpretation and a story local to Chilliwack.

I now had to make my interpretation accessible to a number of age groups. This meant taking my own thoughts  and trying to explain for demographics of all ages, which was the most difficult part of the project. This was because I needed to both keep my original message and make it accessible to younger age groups.

Overall, I am grateful that I had the chance to make this exhibit. The challenges I was faced with have better prepared me for the goals I hope to accomplish in my professional life and I will be pleased to carry them with me.

The exhibit is scheduled to open August 17, 2018. 

Facial Recognition – Archives Style

Posted on: July 25th, 2018 by Tristan Evans

Unidentified group with big smiles [2016.032.002.0786]

Big tech companies and government agencies have the advantage of using facial recognition software to help them identify individuals from digital images.  While I love a good conspiracy theory, I’ll break the myth and let you know that as a small community archives, we do not have such technology in our possession.  However, we here at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives have a secret tool that Google, Facebook, and large agencies do not have.  We have a great set of dedicated volunteers and a community that cares about preserving Chilliwack’s history.

 

Unknown individual doing something important [2016.032.002.0784]

 

Today I am going to tap into the community (you) and ask for help.  Throughout this blog you’ll notice photographs from a large collection.  The donor, I, and our volunteers have all tried to identify these remaining photographs from this large collection.  Unfortunately we have not had any luck.  This is when I ask you to kindly put on your archives hat and see if you recognize any of the individuals in these photos and/or maybe the event itself.

 

 

 

 

 

Looks like a charismatic speaker [2016.032.002.0787]

Any information you have on these photographs is appreciated.  Feel free to contact me directly if you recognize these photographs and I will gladly update our database.   You can find my contact information at the bottom of the blog post.  After you’ve looked at all the photographs of course.

 

 

 

 

 

Kids being patient [2016.032.002.0788]

Just three more photographs to go.  How about this fantastic family on the right with “smiling” kids?

 

 

 

 

 

 

More smiles [2016.032.002.0790]

Almost done.  How come this family is so lucky?  They appear in a few of these photographs!

 

 

 

 

 

Where is this store? I don’t know, do you? [2016.032.002.0791]

You made it to the final image… for now.  Recognize where this store is?

 

Thank you for looking.

 

Tristan Evans

[email protected]

604-792-5210 ext. 104

Volunteer Spotlight – Wayne Bowes

Posted on: June 20th, 2018 by Tristan Evans

The Chilliwack Museum is so much more than one individual.  To fulfill our mandate of preserving Chilliwack’s rich history, we rely on the work of so many individuals who generously share their time.  This includes (but is not all inclusive) members of the Chilliwack historical society, the Board of Trustees, 32 volunteers, 5 permanent staff members, 2 summer students, and 3 part-time staff members.  In the Archives building specifically, there is one archivist, one curator, one archives assistant, one summer student, and currently 4 volunteers.  As the name implies, volunteers charitably give their free time here doing a lot of the behind-the-scenes work that allows us to preserve and make available our archival records and cultural objects.

Volunteer Wayne Bowes and his wife Coleen Bowes

 

Each volunteer brings a unique skill set to the Archives that we try and pair up with tasks that are needed.  To this day I regularly use the research done by past volunteers such as Sharon Lawrence or Evelyn Johner.  Today I am going to use this opportunity to highlight one volunteer in particular:

 

Wayne Bowes volunteers in the Archives building mostly working on the curatorial side describing cultural objects.  Wayne is a retired architect, designer, and worked for many years in the antiques business.  With his knowledge, Wayne is the perfect individual to help us describe cultural objects.  His antique skills are particularly useful.  He knows far more about the material and use of an object than us generalist (the curator and myself) could ever hope to know.  He is here every Monday from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM imputing descriptive information into our database.  The work is often tedious and underappreciated.  Very few individuals understand all the behind-the-scene descriptions that Wayne is a part of.  During his last shift I asked Wayne a few questions about his work and why he is so committed to helping our mission.

 

Just one of the projects Wayne is currently describing

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

 

I wanted to give back to Chilliwack.  I have an interest in history and older items and wanted to use my knowledge in a meaningful way to give back to the community.

 

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

 

I work mostly on the curatorial side.  I take photographs of objects and record the information into the database.  I look up the value of items and describe the items.  I use my past experience from working in an antiques shop to describe the artifacts and objects.

 

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

 

I haven’t been working here for very long yet; but, I have really enjoyed some of the socials and luncheons for the volunteers.

 

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

 

Staff are friendly, nice, and informative.  (I promise, I didn’t force him to say the last response)

 

Wayne Bowes has been volunteering since November, 2017.  He lives in Chilliwack proper with his wife Coleen Bowes.  They are long time residents of the community in Chilliwack and Cultus Lake.  From a personal perspective I can say without hesitation that it is an absolute pleasure working with Wayne.

 

Borrowing a phrase from one of my favourite podcasts, The Secret Life of Canada, shout out to Wayne Bowes!

What’s Behind the Locked Doors?

Posted on: May 16th, 2018 by Tristan Evans

Today I would like to use this opportunity to promote a new event here at the Archives.  Starting this year we have been having free behind-the-scenes tours of the Chilliwack Archives.  The free tours are open to everyone and take place on the last Friday of the month.  Hint, May 25th for this month.  Each tour runs between 45 minutes to an hour.

 

Archivist Tristan Evans is pleased with the new sandwich board sign. Photo credit: Adrienne Rempel [February 6, 2018]

Are you curious what we are hiding behind those secret archive doors?  Ever wondered where I disappear to when you request to view a fonds or photograph?  Are you a long-time history nerd with serious questions and you want to know more about our local collections?  Come to the tour.  Are you brand new to the history field and just looking to see what all the hype is about at the Archives?  Come to the tour.  The tour is open to everyone, no previous research experience required.  Seriously, it is a really great opportunity.

 

Below is all the information you need:

 

Price: FREE!!!

Where: Evergreen Hall, Chilliwack Archives, 9291 Corbould Street, Chilliwack, BC V2P 4A6

When: Last Friday of every month at 3:00 PM

Reservation: Not required!  All you need to do is stop by the Archives at 3:00 PM

 

“I don’t always go on free tours, but when I do, it’s to visit the Chilliwack Archives”

-World’s Most Interesting Man

 

Archive Door protecting the secrets of the archive stacks. Photo credit: Tristan Evans [May 16, 2018]

I know that I’m not alone when I say I love visiting archives.  Sure museums are fun, but how often do you get to see behind the scenes?  You will be rewarded with the opportunity to explore how we catalogue and preserve archival records and cultural objects.  At most institutions you are lucky to peak behind an archive door and glimpse a view at the secrets of the archival world.  These glimpses into the mysterious world of an archivist are usually reserved for special occasions such as “archives week” or “culture week.”  Not here at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives.  We are very fortunate here in Chilliwack to have a large and diverse collection of archival records, artifacts, and cultural objects for a community of our size.  My job is to preserve these archival records; but also, to make them available to the community.  So please, stop by on the last Friday of every month, 3:00 PM, no RSVP!

 

Are you sold yet?  If not, here are a couple comments I’ve heard after our first three tours:

Newspapers… Boxes and boxes of newspapers. Photo credit: Tristan Evans [May 16, 2018]

“Good Tour”

“Great Tour”

“I really enjoyed that, thank you”

“Oh wow!  That was the greatest tour I have ever had in my entire life.  It totally changed my life.  Nothing can ever top this”

 

Okay… Maybe I slightly misquoted that last one and perhaps exaggerated a little bit.  In all seriousness though, these tours are great.  I really hope to keep them going and they are something that very few institutions offer.  Generally speaking, the public is forbidden to go behind-the-scenes of an archive.  These tours tear down those restrictions.  They make my job less of a mystery to you, the public, and they are a perfect opportunity for you to ask questions you may have about our collections or general Chilliwack community history.  I really hope to see you on May 25th or any other last Friday of the month.

Coming Home: F. W. Lee Painting Returns to Chilliwack

Posted on: April 11th, 2018 by Tristan Evans

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.

 

“Chilliwack Sunset, 1937” Watercolour painting by F. W. Lee [2018.008]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?

 

F. W. Lee painting a landscape mural, with two women and a man looking on. [P5352]

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.