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Official Blog of the Chilliwack Museum and Archives

Archive for the ‘Engagement’ Category

What’s Behind the Locked Doors?

Posted on: May 16th, 2018 by

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.

Interactive Discovery Bins

Posted on: May 2nd, 2018 by

Do you ever see old items and get the overwhelming urge to handle them? Well have no fear, the discovery bins are here for you!

The Discovery Bins are located in the Community of Villages.

Located in the back section of our permanent exhibit is an interactive discovery bin station. The discovery bins provide a more hands on and interactive experience for visitors of all ages, though they tend to appeal largely to children. For children, these bins help them learn about and test out tools people once used in their home or to communicate with each other. For other visitors, the artifacts in the bins can be a trip down memory lane, as they see familiar items that may have been found in their childhood home’s kitchen.

We currently have six themed discovery bins available for exploration. The themes are farming, kitchenware, communication, travel, education and local First Nations history. In each bin various artifacts are provided along with interactive games and worksheets. The worksheets can be helpful in starting the conversation about what something is and how it may have be used. A Discovery Hunt booklet takes visitors through each bin as a type of scavenger hunt.

Do you recognize this artifact? Next to it is a glimpse of our Discovery Hunt Booklet.

Some of our most popular artifacts are an eggbeater, a rotary phone and a butter press. With the way technology has evolved, for some visitors these older forms of modern items can really puzzle some of our younger visitors.

On your next visit make sure to check out the discovery bins, you’ll never know what you’ll find!

SQ’ÉWLETS Exhibition Final Week

Posted on: April 26th, 2018 by

Installation image of Sq’éwlets exhibition. Photo by Lori Johnson.

This is the final week that the exhibition SQ’ÉWLETS: A Stó:lō–Coast Salish Community in the Fraser River Valley will be on display at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives. The exhibition will wrap up this Saturday April 28th, with a closing ceremony held from 10am to 11am (the exhibition will remain open until 2pm on Saturday). All are welcome to this community event.

Sq’éwlets exhibition opening event.

During its 5-month span, the  SQ’ÉWLETS exhibition has welcomed over 800 visitors. With a strong interest from local schools, our staff provided exhibition tours to nearly 200 students in the community. This spring, we also ran our first classroom-in-residence program, which provided two classrooms with a dedicated period of time to engage with, and study, the exhibition.

If you don’t have the chance to make it to the exhibition, you can still catch the content through the Sq’éwlets First Nation website (but we hope you make it out anyway!)

With informative panels, photos, touchable objects, a material identification activity, video, and a touchscreen portal to the exhibition website, there is a lot to see and do for folks of all ages!

(The website was produced by the Sq’éwlets First Nation in collaboration with the Stó:lō Resource and Research Management Centre at Stó:lō Nation, the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, and additional partners.)

Wrapping up the Classroom in Residence pilot project

Posted on: March 28th, 2018 by

Guest blog by Lena Yacyshen, Classroom-in-Residence Coordinator

In December we posted a blog about a new education project we would be launching in the spring. Now that the Classroom in Residence pilot project has wrapped up, we can share a little more about our experience and the activities students participated in during their museum residency.

Students learning about Chilliwack’s historic downtown and making comparisons between the old and new architecture.

The Classroom in Residence Project is different from other museum education programs in that it is week-long and immerses students in the museum, Chilliwack’s history and community. We hosted two elementary school classes during the pilot project. The students learned a lot and made strong connections throughout the week, and we also learned a lot from them too. These two pilot classes have helped lay the foundation for the project moving forward and have also demonstrated the value of the project to School District #33.

Each day students participated in different activities in the community and at the museum. In the afternoon students were given time to slow down and reflect on the mornings events in personal journals. This kind of open ended assignment not only helps build students’ critical thinking, writing and drawing skills but also allows them to document their learning in a personal way. This balance of learning new things, (and having new experiences) making connections with what has been learned in the classroom while taking time to slow down, reflect and consolidate learning is an essential aspect of the project.

What did the week look like?

Day One: Students were given an extensive museum tour and shown around Chilliwack’s Historic Downtown.

Day Two: Students spent the morning at the archives learning about how material culture informs us about time, place and culture and the importance of preserving and having access to local documents. Students also used primary sources to examine land settlement over time in Chilliwack and learned how to conduct basic local research.

Students using primary sources to look at land settlement and development over time in Chilliwack.

Day Three: Guest speakers from Stó:lō Nation and Sq’éwlets Fist Nation discussed the current exhibit and other aspects of Stó:lō culture and history such as transformation/ origin stories and the impact of residential schools. In the afternoon students visited the library for a tour and an introduction to all the activities and learning resources available at no cost.

Day Four: Students were given a behind the scenes tour of The Chilliwack Progress’ newsroom and learned about local news from their award-winning journalists. Later, students created their own group newspaper, basing production on what the Progress’ team taught them.

Day Five: Museum staff gave a lesson on exhibit creation/design and students mocked up their own exhibits for the museum. Students finalize their best journal entry from the week and installed their own exhibit out of their entries (come by the museum before June to see it!). That afternoon, students hosted an open house for their parents and School District staff where they gave museum tours and showcased what they had been learning throughout the week.

Lessons Learned

Students captivated by (Albert) Sonny McHalsie’s story telling.

At the end of the week students were excited about all the new discoveries and connections they made in their hometown, and they wished the residency could have lasted longer. Students came away with a strong sense of place and a deeper understanding of many topics because of their unique experiences. Learning first hand from important Stó:lō community members and Elders allowed students to truly understand the hardships this community has faced, but has also given them a sense of the beauty and strength of Stó:lō culture. Learning behind the scenes at the library and newspaper gave students insight into how these institutions meet the needs of our community and contribute to our sense of place. Learning about Chilliwack’s past and present helped participants feel connected and more invested in our community. Program participants could see the museum (and all museums) as a place for living culture where there are links between the past and our contemporary environment. These collective experiences instill curiosity and a love of learning and we feel strongly that the students we have worked with will become life-long learners who are invested in their community.

A word from the Coordinator

My time at the museum as Classroom in Residence Coordinator has whizzed past me because of the fun, challenging and dynamic nature of the position. Everyday I learned multiple new things about myself, Chilliwack’s history and community, education, museum practices and more. I have been interested in pursuing a career in education outside of the traditional classroom, being unsure of what form that would take this type of local and collaborative approach to education has been eye opening for me. I can’t wait to see how the Classroom in Residence Project evolves over time- the possibilities are endless and the students that get to participate are truly lucky.

Chilliwack Writers reflect on “What it’s like Living Here”

Posted on: March 23rd, 2018 by

This past Saturday the museum welcomed a group of inspired writers to join Heather Ramsay in an exploration of what it’s like to live in Chilliwack.

“It is always incredible to witness how many different ways the same sights and sounds can be interpreted by different observers and writers…and that was just during our tour of the museum. Once we got started on describing places that are special to us, whole new worlds took shape. From the destruction of one “cracker box” home, to the construction of a log house dream, places came alive in so many different ways. As the teacher, I was happy to hear such inspired writing from the students. When they asked me when the next workshop would be, I took that as a sign that we went somewhere great together.” – Heather Ramsay on Saturday’s workshop.

As a museum and archives we collect historic records which help us understand our city and it’s past. However, as we always like to say, we’re not just about “old” things, but about the places, the objects, the memories and the moments which make our city what it is today. And that includes you! Your stories and experiences of Chilliwack are important. Our workshop participants started to explore this on Saturday and as one writer wrote to us about the workshop, “the group was great and the people and their stories were fascinating.” Anne Russell, one of the workshop participants, has shared an excerpt from her first draft below.

Anne Russell, on her Little Mountain “crackerbox” home in the 1990’s:

Anne's crackerbox home on Little Mountain, ca. 1990's.

Anne’s crackerbox home on Little Mountain, ca. 1990’s.

“This funky forest home resonated with our desire to be slightly off the grid. We hadn’t moved 100 km from the city just to live in a BC Box house in a subdivision.

We felt like we’d found the place to be the kind of young adults we wanted to be. Adventurous, nature-loving hikers and mountain bikers living amongst the cedar trees, grooving in nature with two cats in the yard – and a puppy and kitten who soon followed — and a tiny garden eked out of the forest surrounding us. We were like two schoolkids playing grown up in a most romantic setting.”

We will be sharing some of the participants’ completed stories over the next few months on the blog and we hope you’ll be inspired to share some of your experiences of our city as well!

Heather Ramsay on our upcoming Writing Workshop

Posted on: March 7th, 2018 by

Guest Blog by Heather Ramsay

I’ve always been intrigued by the number of different stories that evolve out of one place.

Heather on Elk Mountain overlooking Ryder Lake.

Heather on Elk Mountain overlooking Ryder Lake.

The paths we follow in our daily routines, the people we encounter, our histories, our connections all influence what we observe. These details add layers to our stories and the stories of the places where we live.

I’m a relative newcomer to this area. Before coming here, I lived in Smithers and Haida Gwaii, both places with a lot of stories. I wrote many stories about these communities while working for the local newspapers. Since moving to the Fraser Valley, I’ve completed a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and have deepened the way I think about stories.

When I think about Chilliwack, my mind goes to mountains, rivers and fields, but also to the minute details of the aging a-frame house where I live in Ryder Lake. The creaking noise in the hallway and the warp in the windows that distort the view. The elongated hoof prints in my garden. The soggy patch where the rain drips off the roof into the yard. Through these details a narrative can grow.

The idea for this workshop is to let your concrete observations conjure a story about place. I was inspired by Douglas Glover in creating this workshop. The author of several books, including the Governor General award-winning novel, Elle, Glover is also a gifted creative writing teacher. In his on-line magazine Numero Cinq, he created a community where writers could learn and discuss stories and techniques — where they could meander and be among people who shared his passion for words. He encouraged this community to think more deeply about many things, including place.

His series, What It’s like Living Here, inspired writers from Edmonton, Minneapolis, Saskatoon, Nantucket, South Korea and more.

“Stick to concrete evocation of a series of places. Pack in as many concrete evocative details as you can. Don’t be seduced into talking too much about motives, relationships, the past, etc. Let the self arrive through the details of place. That said, sometimes a lovely narrative arises through the details of place. Let it,” he wrote in his instructions to those who wanted to submit.

Although Glover shut down his site to new submissions in Fall 2017, all the words and lessons he curated remain. And his teaching continues in workshops like this. I invite you to join me in an exploration of this place. “My Chilliwack: What It’s Like Living Here” will be held on March 17 from 10 to 4 at the Chilliwack Museum. Come and write about your house, your neighbourhood, a favourite street. Bring photos to inspire you or write about the things you see in the Chilliwack Museum. Take us on a tour of this place through your eyes. Maybe your story will be in the Chilliwack Museum blog next time.


Register for “My Chilliwack: What It’s Like Living Here” online here.

Pilot Project to take place in the New Year

Posted on: December 20th, 2017 by

If you’ve been to the museum in the last month or so you may have noticed a new face around the office. Lena Yacyshen has joined us as our Classroom in Residence Project Coordinator to help us launch a new education program this spring. Lena is joining us through the Building Careers in Heritage grant which helps to provide new graduates with work experience in heritage. She’ll be helping to coordinate this new project over the next few months.

Lena Yacyshen is our new Classroom in Residence Project Coordinator.

Lena Yacyshen is our new Classroom in Residence Project Coordinator.

The Classroom in Residence Program

This new pilot project aims to offer local students and teachers a chance to move their classroom to the museum for a full week of school. The program is designed following the concept of the Campus Calgary/Open Minds programs in Calgary which have been using local locations as learning spaces for students for over a decade.

The program brings a classroom into the museum for a full week of place-based and hands-on learning. Students will be interacting with the Museum and Archives collection, visiting community members and establishments, and putting what they have learned in the classroom to practical use. The program will aim to foster strong critical thinking and writing skills through careful observation of our local surroundings, while helping students to build a deeper understanding of their community. With our historic downtown and many community and cultural spaces close by, we will be able to learn, explore and reflect at these important spaces.

During their week here, students will be focusing on slowing down and taking time to observe and reflect on their surroundings. Using journals to record their observations, they will have a record of their experiences at the museum and archives to use for further learning back at their schools. By the end of their residency, they will have a strong understanding of Chilliwack’s rich history and of the variety of places they can explore within their own community.

Getting Ready

Students will be using journals to record their observations.

Students will be using journals to record their observations.

Over the next few months, myself and Lena will be getting ready to launch the pilot program. We are working with two SD33 classes alongside the classroom teachers to develop an engaging program for the residency. We’ll be pursuing funding opportunities to bring the classes here for little to no cost and we’ll be looking to connect with the community to expand the reach of the pilot.

Learning from other successful projects such as the museum school program at the Sunshine Coast Museum and Archives, the Beyond Classrooms network in Kingston, ON and the Museum School network in London, ON, we’re hoping to be able to open the Classroom in Residence program to more classes in future years.

What are we looking forward to?

“Often when I have classes visit the museum for a 1-1.5 hour program I don’t have the time to answer fully students’ questions about what they see here at the museum and about the work of the museum itself. I’m looking forward to helping the Classroom in Residence take a deeper dive into the resources we have here and gain a meaningful understanding of our community and its history.” – Stephanie

“I am excited to show our Classroom in Residence students that the classroom is not just confined by their school’s physical walls and that learning opportunities are all around us. I am thrilled that Chilliwack and our community’s history will be used as a platform for learning and investigation for students. I believe it is valuable for students to experience education styles that put emphasis on slowing down and carefully observing, while relying on critical thinking and problem solving to complete a task. I also strongly believe this model will get students more excited about education both inside and outside of the traditional classroom, because of the sense of pride students get in applied learning.” – Lena

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Find out more about the educational theory behind the Classroom in Residence program by checking out this post by long time educator David Barnum for the University of British Columbia: http://teljournal.educ.ubc.ca/2017/05/open-minds-constructing-learning-in-the-community/ .

Are you a teacher in Chilliwack interested in taking part in the Classroom in Residence program? Feel free to get in touch with me at [email protected]ackmuseum.ca.

Chilliwack Museum and Archives “Pays it Forward”

Posted on: November 29th, 2017 by

This past year, one of our 60th Anniversary projects was to obtain new, Canadian-made, conservation-grade exhibit cases. We have been thrilled with the results. These cases, installed in late October, will allow us to project and celebrate our rich, Chilliwack-focused artifact collection, for the next generation, at least. Thanks to everyone who made this dream a reality!

If you haven’t yet stopped in to the Museum to check it out – come and experience it for yourself! 

Some of our new table-top and modular display cases.

Completing that project, however, yielded a new one.

What would we do with our existing casework? We definitely did not have room to keep it on site in the Museum! Over the decades, we had ourselves benefited from the generosity of other Museums, which had “cascaded” some of their old exhibit cases down to us. In addition, in past years we had a few cases produced locally for us, which were totally functional, and still had great lifespan in them.

We asked around, as we are in contact with other Museums and cultural organizations here in the Fraser Valley. Thankfully, three organizations let us know that they could put the cases to good use!

Threthewey House Heritage Site’s Executive Director, Christina Reid, gave us an update:

Cases recently provided to Trethewey House Heritage Site in Abbotsford.

Cases recently provided to Trethewey House Heritage Site in Abbotsford are being painted for their new format. 

“Right now, we’re in the process of re-painting the cases. Once they’re done, we will fill them with artifacts to go in our new Legacies on the Lake exhibit. The larger case will hold our temporary exhibits, which will centre on individuals who worked at the Trethewey’s lumber mill. The new-to-us cases enable us to show more of our collection, and thus tell more of Abbotsford’s story.”

At the Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre, the experience was similar. Our Curator, Adrienne Rempel worked with their Director, Dr. Dave Schaepe and their Education Coordinator Amber Kostuchenko, providing them with some of our older casework. It looks tremendous in their newly renovated Shxwt’a:selhawtxw (“House of Long Ago and Today”) Interpretive Centre.

Cultural items from the Stó:lō Resource Centre Repository, in the newly renovated Shxwt’a:selhawtxw (“House of Long Ago and Today”) Interpretive Centre.

Cases in the newly renovated Shxwt’a:selhawtxw (“House of Long Ago and Today”) Interpretive Centre. 

Dave mentioned how the “donation of the large display cases from the Chilliwack Museum were a much appreciated, very useful and timely addition to our newly renovated Shxwt’a:selhawtxw (“House of Long Ago and Today”) Interpretive Centre.  These cases allowed us to bring out and display more cultural  items from our Stó:lō Resource Centre Repository, expanding the scope of our cultural education program.  The donated cabinets provide more opportunity to display delicate items like handmade Coast Salish baskets and textiles.  It is of great value to bring these items to the attention of our visitors and use within our programs.”

Cultural items from the Stó:lō Resource Centre Repository, in the newly renovated Shxwt’a:selhawtxw (“House of Long Ago and Today”) Interpretive Centre.

Cases in the newly renovated Shxwt’a:selhawtxw (“House of Long Ago and Today”) Interpretive Centre. 

A couple of the other cases are remaining with us, to be used for our own Education and Engagement programs, as well as smaller-scale exhibits located in our Archives location at Evergreen Hall. The rest of our former cases have been donated to the CFB Chilliwack Historical Society, and are already making a major difference in their presentation galleries, which are located on Hocking Avenue in Chilliwack. Stay tuned for that story!

At the Chilliwack Museum and Archives, we’re glad that we could “pay it forward!”

In the meantime, come by the Museum to see our refreshed galleries, and why not plan an excursion to visit these other great local places, and experience what they have to offer! 

Moustache Moves in Movember

Posted on: November 22nd, 2017 by

In November (Movember), Mo Bros, supported by their Mo Sistas, grow out their moustache for 30 days to raise money and awareness for men’s health issues – particularly prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health awareness.  While some individuals rejoice at the opportunity to show off a moustache for 30 days, many young men spend Movember desperately trying to hide their moustache seemingly afraid of sporting such a style in 2017.  If you are one of these individuals, fear not.  Here are a few historic photographs of Chilliwack locals rocking a solid Mo.

 

 

Group portrait of Chief K’hhalserten Sepass family at Skowkale, P5571. [1912]

Group portrait of Chief K’hhalserten Sepass family at Skowkale, P5571. [1912]

Chief K’hhalserten (William Sepass) of Sq’ewqéyl was born circa 1845.  He was a respected and admired individual during a time of great disruption for his community. Chief K’hhalserten Sepass was forced to observed many changes in his community.  Re-settlers had moved into the valley and drastically changed the surrounding environment, reserves were established, and Euro-Canadian agriculture and labouring systems replaced traditional ways of living.  A first hand witness to these changes, Chief Khhalserten Sepass worked with Sophia White Street for four years translating songs from his community. The Sepass Poems: Songs of Y-Ail-Mihth, was eventually published by the Sepass Trust in 1963.  At the age of 98, Chief K’hhalserten Sepass died on March 23, 1943.  His lifetime of advocacy along with a reputation for fairness and wisdom remain as a legacy of his achievement and greatness.

 

 

 

 

Detailed view of David Richardson, P704. [1915]

Detailed view of David Richardson, P704. [1915]

David Richardson was born in Scotland in 1867.  In 1886 he joined the Lanarkshire Police and in 1891 he married Mary Prosser.  When Richardson immigrated his family to Canada he was a Police Inspector and Fire Chief for Rutherford District.  In 1913, David Richardson was granted the position of Chilliwack Chief of Police.  David and Mary Richardson eventually had 8 children, including James Cleland Richardson who received the Victoria Cross for rallying his company on October 8, 1916, during the Battle of the Somme.  In 1920, David Richardson retired from the police force and worked as a janitor at Chilliwack High School.  Active in many Chilliwack organizations, David Richardson passed away in February 1955.  Mary Richardson died in June 1956.

 

 

 

 

Looking for more great moustaches from Chilliwack’s past?  Here are a couple more individuals.

 

Portrait of Arlo Kipp, 2002.073.013. [ca. 1943]

Portrait of Arlo Kipp, 2002.073.013. [ca. 1943]

Arlo Kipp was the second of three children born to Wilfred Harvey and Winnifred (Baxter) Kipp.  He was the grandson of Chilliwack re-settler family Henry and Caroline Ann (Trenaman) Kipp.  Arlo served in the Canadian military during WWII.  After the war Arlo returned to Cultus Lake where he became the new secretary/manager of the Cultus Lake Park Board.  Additionally he served as postmaster from 1946 to 1973.  Arlo Kipp married Evelyn Pulford.  He passed away in 1984.

 

 

 

 

 

 

But wait… there’s more… 

 

Chilliwack Progress Press Photo: Francis Horne, 07 September 1977, page 29, 1999.029.179.002.

Chilliwack Progress Press Photo: Francis Horne, 07 September 1977, page 29, 1999.029.179.002.

Born in 1954, Francis Horne Sr. is a highly accomplished and respected self-taught carving artist.  At the time of this photograph in 1977, Francis was living near Chilliwack River Road at the Yeqwyeqwi:ws (Yakweakwioose) First Nation.  Francis Horne Sr. taught his son Francis Horne Jr. the art of carving.  Francis Horne Jr., a member of the Yaweakwioose First Nation is also an accomplished artist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately archival records are limited on the following  individual.  However, it is pretty hard to deny that he rocked a solid Mo.

 

Chilliwack Progress Press Photo: Hop Picker, unnumbered.

Chilliwack Progress Press Photo: Hop Picker, unnumbered.

Chilliwack has a rich history that includes many different communities and ethnic groups.  The photograph to the right depicts an unidentified hop picker rocking a solid moustache working in Chilliwack, BC.  Archival records indicate the photograph was probably taken in September, 1977 for a hop special written by the Progress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And Finally…

 

Archivist Tristan Evans on vacation with family, 12 November 2017. Photo Credit: Alexandra Renee

Archivist Tristan Evans on vacation with family, 12 November 2017. Photo Credit: Alexandra Renee

Archivist Tristan Evans on vacation with the family sporting a moustache for Movember.  Left to right: Tristan Evans, Chelsea Daughters, Brandon Evans.

The Case for Cases

Posted on: September 21st, 2017 by

Early in 1958, just after our organization was established – the Chilliwack Museum and Historical Society  President, Oliver Wells, did what all good Museum leaders do at some point: he sent out a fundraising letter.

SPOILER ALERT! That’s what this blog post is really about too

But why don’t we have some good ole’ historical fun while we’re at it, eh?

Oliver Wells serves as the founding Chairman of the Chilliwack Museum and Historical Society.

Oliver Wells served as the founding Chairman of the Chilliwack Museum and Historical Society.

In that letter, Mr. Wells made a very logical point:

“…we must be able to give assurance that [valuable historical material] will be safely stored and displayed.” 

Oliver Wells fundraising letter, Feb. 1958.

Oliver Wells fundraising letter, February, 1958.

Some things have not changed. Then, as now, this is still one of the most basic principles of preservation and conservation. Museums have a responsibility to care for their collections. We have been doing just that here in Chilliwack for sixty years.

The Chilliwack Museum and Archives cares for: 

  • Over one million items in our Archival records, including hundreds of thousands of photographic images. Our Archives are a trusted repository, well-respected by historians and researchers;
  • Over ten thousand historic objects – also known as artifacts or belongings, each one shedding light upon a unique person, place, memory, or moment that matters to Chilliwack – to you.

Did you know, however, that less than 1% of our collection is exhibited at any given time? Why?

  • For starters, there just isn’t enough gallery space in our National Historic Site Museum building to exhibit too much more of the collection in a way that ensure artifact conservation, AND;
  • The existing cases that we have were not purpose-built for the task of displaying many of the more vulnerable objects from our collections.

From the late 1950s until now, our skilled and creative professional staff have done their very best, working with the kinds of exhibit cases that we have had available. Many of these have been greatly appreciated hand-me-downs, cascaded to us from other institutions, such as the Museum of Vancouver.

In other cases, we have had cases purpose-built for our exhibitions by local carpenters – with plywood structure, plinths and plexi-glass. They look pretty good, and do a serviceable job of presenting your historic objects (which we steward for the public good).

The cases we have, however, are not built to last forever, and do not fully achieve the kinds of conservation standards that Chilliwack’s significant material culture truly deserves. They don’t have the kinds of security features we expect today, such as hidden cam-locks, and they don’t offer the same level of environmental protection (from such factors as UV light, moisture, pests, contact) to ensure fragile and precious materials are safeguarded for future generations.

Back in 2011, when the Archives facility was expanded at Evergreen Hall, you helped us to acquire high-quality, rolling, shelving. This shelving, however, is intended for storage, and not for exhibition purposes.

In short: we need new exhibit cases – yesterday

Thanks to the support of the Government of Canada’s Canadian Cultural Spaces Program, the City of Chilliwack, and the Chilliwack Foundation – all of which provided significant grants – our need is being met!

The new cases are expected to arrive in late October, and our exhibits will transition into them, with our next exhibit opening into them in early November, 2017.

The Chilliwack Museum and Archives will soon have the highest quality, Canadian-made exhibit cases, which will strengthen our curatorial program for decades to come.  Custom-constructed to meet our local needs by the highly regarded Zone Display Cases, nineteen (19!) new exhibit cases will give us tremendous flexibility to show you more of our rich collections.

Best of all, many of these units are completely modular, allowing for set-up in a broad range of different ways, allowing for versatility. You will be able to connect with your history in an amazing new way! 

So now, following in Mr. Well’s footsteps, I’m going to let you all know…

2015-07-francis

We need your help!

The total cost for 19 cases is $142, 000, and that is the largest purchase that the Chilliwack Museum and Historical Society has ever made. While we have raised over $100, 000 to date, we still need to raise just over $30, 000 in 2017 to complete the exhibit case project. Will you partner with us?

If you’d like to give to honour or in memory of someone special, recognition opportunities are available. 

Thank you for the amazing generosity of those caring individuals and Chilliwack businesses that have already contributed.

No gift is too small – every contribution makes a difference! 

For all the details, you can check out our Chilliwack Museum 60th Annivesary – Case Renewal Legacy Project.

How to give?

  1. Make your gift easily and securely ONLINE through our Chilliwack Museum and Archives Canada Helps Page:
  1. By Mail…

Send your cheque to:

Chilliwack Museum and Archives

45820 Spadina Avenue

Chilliwack, BC, V2P 1T3

  1. By Phone – Give us a call!

Our phone number is (604) 795-5210.

  1. In Person

Drop by the Museum during opening hours.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me, Matthew Francis, Executive Director, any time.