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New Curator at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives!

Posted on: July 5th, 2018 by Matthew Francis

In late June 2018, we welcomed a new Curator to the staff of the Chilliwack Museum and Archives.

Curator Anna Irwin with a woven Salish blanket from approximately 1830.

I am delighted that Anna Irwin, who takes on this key role, has long called Chilliwack home. Anna takes over from Jane Lemke, who accepted a new position with another great B.C. Museum, and from Adrienne Rempel, who served as Curator this past year. An award-winning graduate of the University of the Fraser Valley’s History Program, Anna has also completed the University of Victoria’s highly regarded Professional Specialization Certificate in Collections Management, with a focus in Curatorial work. She is no stranger to the Museum and Archives, as she has worked part-time with us for the past few years. Until recently, Anna served as Program Manager at the Trethewey House Historic Site in Abbotsford. Anna brings creativity, knowledge, and energy to the curatorial role. Executive Director Matthew Francis recently had the opportunity to speak with Anna about her new work.

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Q:           Anna – thanks for taking the time to speak with me, and to share about yourself and your work. What are some of the things you appreciate about Chilliwack?

There are so many things to love about Chilliwack but one of my favourite things about Chilliwack are the local mountains. While I have lived in Chilliwack (almost) my whole life, I did not realize how much I took our local mountains that surround us in the Fraser Valley for granted until I left to briefly study French at l’Université de Sherbrooke during my undergraduate degree. While the experience was fantastic (and the food and people were absolutely delightful), one of the things I noticed was that I became nostalgic over our local mountains.

The mountains in the Fraser Valley, such as Mount Cheam, are much larger and are found much more frequently than mountains in the Eastern Townships. When I looked out onto the Sherbrooke horizon one day from the window, it felt empty and incomplete. At the time, I couldn’t quite place why I felt the way that I did, but upon returning home a few weeks after looking out the window, the answer became quickly apparent. The mountains are a source of familiarity and comfort that define “home”. I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to live and work in a place where they are so readily seen from almost any place in the City. We truly live in one of the most beautiful spots in the world.

Q:           What initially interested you in working in Museums?

My interest in museums originally spurred from two things: a sharp interest in learning about the local community and a love of working with people. In museums, these two things often work well in tandem – one of my absolute favourite things to do is to either talk to visitors about what they remember about Chilliwack from decades past or to delve into the local history literature and archival material at the museum to learn about obscure or quirky stories from our past.

Stories are the lifeblood of any museum and object collection. Without the story about why an object is significant and related to a community (otherwise known as provenance), an object is just that: an object. The stories and people that are associated with artifacts can be just as – if not more, in certain instances – important than the artefact itself. They provide context where needed and allow us a window into the past.

For example, a cardboard checkerboard with tidemarks without additional context remains a cardboard checkerboard with tidemarks. While it may, in certain instances, be possible to learn about the year the board was made and where it was produced, the stories pertaining to the checkerboard do not exist and, in some instances, have been lost. Stories allow us to know who used the checkerboard, to learn what caused the tidemarks, to learn where the checkerboard was used and from all of that, allow us to see how the checkerboard fits into the larger swath of Chilliwack’s history. Research, interviewing and having discussions with visitors and donors are all crucial in helping learn more about both the museum’s collection and Chilliwack’s history as a whole.

Q:           Some people may wonder. What is it exactly that curators do? Sometimes it may feel a bit mysterious. Can you help to explain what it is that curators do? 

Curators work primarily to preserve and share tangible history.

While this may sound fairly succinct and straightforward, the position has many broad tasks, including cataloguing and housing new donations to the museum’s artefact collection, assessing integrated pest management strategies and environmental conditions of both the museum and the archives facilities, assisting visitors at the archives, researching upcoming exhibit themes, connecting with community groups for exhibit research and consultation, designing graphics and exhibit labels, and more!

While most of these tasks relate to collections management or exhibition development and the extent to which each are pursued on a day-to-day basis, all play an important role in ensuring Chilliwack’s history can be passed on to and enjoyed by the public and future generations.

Q:           Anna – what is your favourite part about being a curator?

While I truly love the “Jack of all trades” nature of being a curator (to quote one of my predecessors, Jane Lemke), my favourite part of being a curator is working with the community to develop exhibitions. As one of my mentors used to tell me “it takes a village to raise an exhibit” and this is a concept that I wholly live by – exhibitions are concepts built with the help of the community and offer a forum for local voices, both historic and contemporary, to come alive, come together and be heard through archival and object collections, interviews, and active consultation and discussions with local groups and community members.

While a significant amount of research and preparation for upcoming exhibits is conducted “behind the scenes” by staff members, these local voices truly make the exhibit a reflection of its community and allow visitors – particularly those from Chilliwack – to feel an increased sense of ownership and participation in the exhibition development process. Continuing to develop this relationship while bridging the past and present in the museum’s public spaces is something  I am very much looking forward to, as we gear up for our new exhibit centered on music, set to open in early 2019.

Q:           So what are you looking forward to the most in your new job as Curator at the Chilliwack Museum?

I may have accidentally answered this question in the previous question, but in addition to working with the public during the exhibit development process, I am very much looking forward to working with the collection. While I studied collections management at the University of Victoria and have worked with artefact collections in the past, most recently I have been working in programming as the Programs Officer at Trethewey House Heritage Site, leading educational programs and running the volunteer and membership programs (amongst other things!). Having the opportunity to shift gears and actively work to preserve Chilliwack’s extensive and rich artefact collection (especially in my hometown!) is a true honour.

Q:           What’s one fun fact about you that people may not know?

For the past few years, I have been working on watching or collecting as many covers of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as I can find. It’s a slightly obscure and very specific hobby.

Anna Irwin, new Curator at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives

That’s amazing! I’m even more excited for our upcoming music exhibition now! Thank you so much, Anna, for taking the time to talk. We wish you all the best in your work as Curator at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives.

If community members are interested in speaking further with Anna about Chilliwack’s history or about historic objects, you can contact her at 604-795-5210 ext. 105 or by email at [email protected] 

 

 

 

SQ’ÉWLETS Exhibition Final Week

Posted on: April 26th, 2018 by Adrienne Rempel

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.)

Chilliwack Museum and Archives “Pays it Forward”

Posted on: November 29th, 2017 by Matthew Francis

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! 

New exhibition focused on Sq’éwlets First Nation now open

Posted on: November 9th, 2017 by Adrienne Rempel

It’s been a busy month at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives! This week, we opened our latest exhibition, Sq’éwlets: A Stó:lō-Coast Salish Community in the Fraser River Valley. To bring you this exhibition, the Museum partnered with the Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre in collaboration with the Sq’éwlets First Nation.

View of exhibition space, walls are blue and have photos on them, in the centre of the image is a false wall with a video projected onto it.

Installation image: Our Voices projection

What it’s all about

The ancient home of the Sq’éwlets First Nation is at the junction of the Fraser and Harrison Rivers. The history of the Sq’éwlets people from their ancient origins, up to the present day, is shared in the exhibition through videos, cultural belongings, and photos.

A notable aspect of the presentation is that the content wasn’t written or generated by the Museum staff—it was created by the community at Sq’éwlets, from their perspective, and in their words. Self-representation and personal voice are key aspects of the exhibition programme. Visitors will find that the Halq’eméylem language is used prominently throughout the display.

A note on terminology

Installation image of Sq’éwlets exhibition

Installation image: belongings on display

In the exhibition texts, you will notice a small but significant change in terminology. Rather than the commonly used term “artifact” or “object,” the material culture on display is referred to as “belongings.” Alongside the belongings, you will also see historical and contemporary photographs of belongings being used.

The reasoning behind this is multi-faceted, but one of our goals is to emphasize that these items and technologies are still utilized and practiced today, as they have been for generations. Perhaps most important is to acknowledge that the material culture on display belongs to the Sq’éwlets community and their ancestors.

For an in-depth discussion on museological use of the term “belonging” in regards to Coast Salish material culture, check out the following article, Belongings” in “c̓əsnaʔəm: the city before the city.

A community welcome

Welcome by Chief Robert Coombes at the exhibition opening

Welcome by Chief Robert Coombes at the exhibition opening

The exhibition opened on November 2nd, and despite Chilliwack’s first snowfall of the season, many visitors were present. To start the event, a welcome was provided Chief Robert Combes of the local Skwah First Nation. Chief Andy Phillips of the Sq’éwlets First Nation then introduced the project, followed by traditional song and dance led by Johnny Williams on drum. City Councillor Sue Attrill then spoke a few words, along with Museum Director Matthew Francis.

To all of the folks who braved the weather and difficult roads to celebrate this new exhibition, we thank you!

(This exhibition also marks the first time we’ve installed a display using the Museum’s new display casesand they are a dream to work with!)

Sq’éwlets: A Stó:lō–Coast Salish Community in the Fraser River Valley is on display from November 2, 2017 to April 28, 2018. Read further about the exhibition here.

(Museum) Membership has its privileges!

Posted on: August 22nd, 2017 by Matthew Francis

Membership Card-1Who remembers the popular credit card commercial, “Membership has its privileges“? It was a catchy line that made that little plastic rectangle feel like a badge of honour, a special club you wanted to be a part of.

Membership does mean something. It can mean quite a lot, in fact. But history shows us that participation in membership-based organizations in Canada is changing and morphing quite a bit these days.

Trends show that membership-based organizations – particularly service clubs and other voluntary societies – have been steadily declining over the past 40 years. Across the same period, it’s interesting to note that both attendance and membership in history museums, art galleries, and recreational sports groups has been on the rise.

In 2017, the Canadian Museum Association reports that “Canada’s museums:

  • employ over 24,000 people across the country and are
  • supported by more than 55,000 volunteers,
  • and 300,000 “Friends,” or “officially-signed-up members.” 

Membership is an indication of commitment to museums and says that you care about their future.”

And, from those numbers, it’s clear that Canadians love their Museums and have significant connections to them.

Our vision is to connect people with Chilliwack’s history.

If you believe in that vision, the best way that you can put that desire into action is by becoming a member.

A few times over the past 60 years of our history, the Chilliwack Museum and Historical Society has undertaken membership drives to boost our ranks and strengthen the support of our vision. Our City caught on to the vision, and joined in droves. Of course, in those days, an annual Membership membership was a whopping two-dollar bill (those were pre-“Toonie” days).

Story from The Chilliwack Progress, Wednesday, April 18, 1984.

Story from The Chilliwack Progress, Wednesday, April 18, 1984.

In the mid 1980s, when we were campaigning to take on Chilliwack’s historic City Hall as a new home for the Museum, we successfully recruited 1, 912 members, in honour of the construction of City Hall by Thomas Hooper in 1912.

Story from The Chilliwack Progress, on the 1000th member of the Chilliwack Museum and Historical Society, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 1987.

Story from The Chilliwack Progress, on the 1000th member of the Chilliwack Museum and Historical Society, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 1987.

This year, to mark our 60th Anniversary, we have the goal of signing up 60 NEW LIFE MEMBERS before the end of 2017. A Life Membership may cost a little more “up front” than an Annual Museum and Archives Membership, but, as they say, “membership has its privileges.” If you’ve been an annual member for a while, why not “upgrade” to a LIFE MEMBERSHIP? You’ll never have to worry about renewing again!

Members receive:

  • Free Museum admission for themselves and their guests
  • Discounts on historic photo orders from the Archives
  • Discounts on event rentals
  • Discounts on Gift Shop purchases
  • Personal invitation to openings, programs, and special events. 

You can check out all the membership benefits on our website. Of course, if its not the right time for you to become a LIFE MEMBER, then one of our other membership categories is sure to fit your lifestyle. You can even join as a Teacher or Business, and get great perks for your class or employees. Signing up online is easy, or you can come into the Museum any time to activate your membership.

Plus – if you are a newcomer to Chilliwack – having moved here within the last 12 months – your first year’s membership is always FREE! Come on into the Museum or give us a call for details! 

And, as a special bonus, each new Life Member that joins in 2017, will receive as our gift, a copy of our classic book, The Chilliwack Story. Keep this richly illustrated coffee table book, or pass it on to a friend or family member – you can guarantee it will be cherished!

Come and join us as we connect people with Chilliwack’s history – become a member today. 

 

 

Final Week of Photography: from Obscura to App

Posted on: June 6th, 2017 by Adrienne Rempel

If you haven’t yet had the chance to visit the Chilliwack Museum and Archives to view the exhibition Photography: from Obscura to App this week is your last chance.

About the Exhibition

Installation image from the exhibition. Photograph by Lori Johnson.

Installation image from the exhibition. Photograph by Lori Johnson.

Presenting a brief survey of the history of photography, the exhibition begins with the first forays into the technology, such as the daguerreotype, up to present day digital technologies. On display are pictures and artifacts relating to Chilliwack’s history, from James Orville Booen’s stunning photographs, to equipment sourced from the old Paramount Theatre.

Read more about the exhibition in this article from the Chilliwack Progress.

A Community Gathering

Norman Williams at the opening reception for the exhibition

Norman Williams at the opening reception. Photograph by Lori Johnson.

The opening reception for the exhibition was held on September 22, 2016, and was well-attended by community members. Among the many attendees, especially fitting was the presence of photographers Don Young, Lori Johnson, Jenna Hauck (of the Progress), and Norman Williams (long-time photographer and owner of Norman’s Photographic Studio in Chilliwack).

Engaging with the Community

Visitor interaction and community outreach were key aspects of the exhibition programming. From an interactive timeline, to a chalkboard wall where visitors were asked to record their relationship to photography, persons both young and old were encouraged to participate and make their mark within the exhibition. What do Chilliwackian’s like to photograph? Everything from “places I visit,” to “my loved ones <3,” and “doors!” So far, the exhibition has received over 1100 visitors during its display period.

Click here to view the results of our interactive Kidtography exhibition, which is on display at the Museum until June 11th.

A Parting Question

Visitors at a "hands-on" display during the opening reception. Photography by Lori Johnson.

Visitors at a “hands-on” display during the opening reception. Photograph by Lori Johnson.

With the influx of digital technologies, it is difficult to predict the future of photography. It is poignant that one visitor to the exhibition left the following sentence in our guestbook: “developer 2 min / stop 15 seconds / fix 4 min / wash 4 min.” These are instructions for blackroom developing. How soon will it be, before the meaning of this sentence will be left to the history books?

Photography: from Obscura to App closes on Sunday June 11, 2017.

 

 

 

Chilliwack Museum and Historical Society Celebrates 60 Years!

Posted on: April 24th, 2017 by Matthew Francis
Come celebrate with us! 60th Birthday Party - Saturday May 13th @ 1pm. Everyone's invited!

Come celebrate with us! The Chilliwack Museum and Archives’ 60th Birthday Party – Saturday May 13th @ 10am. Everyone’s invited!

Sixty years ago, in the Spring of 1957, a committed group of Chilliwack citizens gathered together at the Chilliwack Senior High School for the first official meeting of the Chilliwack Historical Society. They carried forward a dream which many people had shared since the early years of the 20th century – to establish a Museum to connect people to Chilliwack’s history. Through their hard work and determination, this object was soon realized with the opening of the Chilliwack Museum the following March.

The Minutes of the first General Meeting of the Historical Society, April 10, 1957.

The Minutes of the first General Meeting of the Historical Society, April 10, 1957.

This year – as Canada celebrates 150 years – the Chilliwack Museum and Historical Society is commemorating our own “Diamond Jubilee,” sixty years of connecting our community to the memories, moments, and people, and material culture that mean so much to us.

Throughout this 60th Anniversary year, we will be sharing the stories of the Museum’s founders, as well as many others over the years who have shaped the Museum and Archives. This includes such leaders as Oliver N. Wells and Chief Richard Malloway, as well as many others.

Together, they all form our collective story – one that is still being written and lived out today.

You are invited to be a part of this Chilliwack story! Come and join us Saturday May 13th at 10am, for a good old-fashioned community Birthday Party for the Chilliwack Museum and Archives!

  • Free Museum Admission for the Day
  • Festive treats and prizes 
  • Hear informative updates on the work of the Museum and Archives 
  • Become a member of the Chilliwack Museum and Historical Society. 

All are warmly welcome.

For more information contact Matthew Francis, Executive Director, Chilliwack Museum and Archives at [email protected] or (604) 795-5210 ext. 101. 

Interview with Merlin Bunt: Great-Great Grandson of Isaac Kipp Explores Chilliwack’s History

Posted on: March 27th, 2017 by Matthew Francis

Recently Matthew Francis, Executive Director of the Chilliwack Museum and Archives, had the opportunity to sit down for a conversation with Merlin Bunt. Merlin is a proud member of the Chilliwack Museum and Historical Society, and was elected to serve on our Board of Directors last year. He is also the researcher and writer behind the popular “Chilliwack History Perspectives” Facebook page. In this interview, Merlin shares about his own keen interest in Chilliwack’s history, his personal connection to Chilliwack, and why history matters. 

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Merlin – can you describe some of your own personal background and your connection to Chilliwack?

Merlin Bunt, Member of the Board of Directors, Chilliwack Museum and Historical Society

Merlin Bunt, Member of the Board of Directors, Chilliwack Museum and Historical Society

I am a fifth-generation Chilliwackian, born here in the early 1950s, and my great-great-grandfather is Isaac Kipp, often referred to as the ‘father’ of Chilliwack. I have fond memories of being raised in Chilliwack.

Isaac Kipp Farmhouse. Chilliwack Musuem and Archives Photograph, P720.

Isaac Kipp Farmhouse. Chilliwack Museum and Archives Photograph, P720.

Since I spent my first 23 years here, in an era quite different from today, I greatly care about its past, present, and future. I have three daughters, each one a lawyer.  When I am not working, my hobbies include lawn bowling, hiking, cycling, and chronicling Chilliwack’s history.

People would be interested to know about your professional background. What can you tell us about that?

After graduating from CSSS in 1971, I attended UBC and graduated with a B. Com. degree in 1976. Later, I became a Chartered Professional Accountant.  Today I work for myself, providing financial consulting and editing/writing services for my clients.

You have an active interest in “connecting people to Chilliwack’s history,” researching and writing about locally significant historic places and events. Can you tell us a little about your popular Chilliwack History Perspectives Facebook page?

As I mentioned, my ancestors were integrally involved in the development of early Chilliwack.  My grandmother, Irene Bunt (nee Knight, born in Popkum in 1891 and passed away in Chilliwack in 1988) had a real passion for Chilliwack’s history (as she was witness to a good portion of it), she attempted to spark my interest in it.  Her grandfather was Isaac Kipp, and she would often tell me about him and early Chilliwack.  However, I was then living in Vancouver, with three children and a busy career, and my interest in Chilliwack’s history did not match hers, to say the least.  However, in recent years, as the nature of Chilliwack evolved, and certain physical  elements of its history were no longer with us, along with finding myself with more time, my interest in Chilliwack’s history became much more focused.  I finally joined Facebook in 2013, and as I enjoy writing, I found that I wanted to put ‘on the record’ certain aspects of Chilliwack’s  history, including the perspectives of my ancestors and me.  I started posting some informal accounts of Chilliwack history, and initial response was very positive, and thus in 2014 I created a Facebook Page dedicated to Chilliwack history called “Chilliwack History Perspectives”.  As time allows, I try to post a new article every two weeks, on Sunday mornings. To date, I have posted over 80 articles on Chilliwack’s history on this Page.

You  were elected to serve on the Board of Directors of the Museum last year, and we have really appreciated your participation and insights. What have you enjoyed about this experience so far?

Annual General Meeting of the Chilliwack Museum and Historical Society

Annual General Meeting of the Chilliwack Museum and Historical Society

I do quite enjoy being a member of the Museum’s Board of Directors, largely because everyone in the room has some connection to the history of Chilliwack, and a common commitment and passion to preserve it, enhance it, and share it with the area’s citizens.  It is also gratifying to have input to the stewardship of Chilliwack’s history, through both the Museum and the Archives, such that future generations can benefit and learn from our efforts now.  Beyond that, everyone associated with the Board and the Museum is very nice!

What do you enjoy doing for fun or recreation in Chilliwack?

I have recently become an avid lawn bowler, and I am on the Chilliwack Lawn Bowling Club’s Board of Directors. I also like going for early-morning bike rides (preferably when it is sunny) in which I ride past many historic Chilliwack locations, as well as places of personal memories for me.  During these rides, I have my smartphone with me, and occasionally if I see a worthy scene, I will stop and photograph it.  I will often stop just to visualize how something was, as opposed to how it is. Also, this coming summer, a group of us Chilliwack natives (and fans) are planning to climb Mt. Cheam.

Why should people explore Chilliwack’s history?

Chilliwack has a rich and significant history, and being a growing city approaching 90,000 citizens, knowing its roots and foundations gives an appreciation of how  it was, thus allowing us to understand where we are today, to perhaps better deal with what lies ahead tomorrow.  Also, sometimes it’s just fun to ‘escape’ to yesteryear, when times were simpler.

Thanks, Merlin, for taking the time to talk with us! 

New Archivist applies history to real life, loves the whitewater

Posted on: February 23rd, 2017 by Matthew Francis

February 15th was the first day on the job for our new Archivist, Tristan Evans. Tristan originally hails from Prince George, B.C., but has lived in California for many years. He brings to Chilliwack unique professional experience in the Archives field, as well as a track-record of applying the study of history to practical situations in diverse communities. Executive Director Matthew Francis recently had the opportunity to speak with Tristan, so we can all get to know him better. 

Tristan – you are originally from British Columbia, but have spent most of your life in California. How did you enjoy living, studying, and working in beautiful California?

If you are ‘into’ the outdoors, Northern California is an excellent place to live.  Within a two hour drive you have access to world class whitewater, mountain biking, hiking trails, backcountry skiing, and ocean surfing.  I loved the year-round activities that Northern California provided.

New Archivist Tristan Evans is an avid white-water sports enthusiast.

New Archivist Tristan Evans is an avid white-water sports enthusiast.

I was fortunate to complete my undergraduate degree at the University of California, Davis and my graduate degree at California State University, Sacramento.  Both of these schools have excellent history departments with courses that I found both challenging and rewarding.  At Davis, I also had the opportunity to study abroad for one year at the University of Legon, Accra, Ghana.  During this experience I really enjoyed working with the local Ga-Adangbe community as I did a case study on the impact of colonization within their community.

University of Ghana, Legon, courtesy of www.legonconnect.com

University of Ghana, Legon, courtesy of www.legonconnect.com

What I found most stimulating about working in Northern California is the diversity of the jobs and institutions within the history field.  Sacramento is home to the California State Archives, the Center for Sacramento History, several volunteer archives, and the special collections of the California State Library, Sacramento State University, and Sacramento City Library.  Furthermore, there are several Cultural Resource Management and Historic Preservation firms from small to large.  I always found it very interesting interacting with different professionals in the same field that had such different experiences.

 You have a background History, Cultural Resource Management, and a Master’s degree in Public History – what is “Public History,” and how did you get interested in the work of Archives?

 In short, Public History is any form of history that is applied outside of the classroom.  A synonym for Public History that I prefer to use is Applied History.  It is also sometimes referred to as community history.  Areas of Public History include but are not limited to: Museum Studies, Cultural Resource Management, Historic Preservation, Archives, Oral History, History and Memory, and many more topics.

My interest in Archives is actually very different than most Archivists.  When I started the Public History program I thought I would follow a career in Cultural Resource Management (i.e. evaluating the built environment for evaluation on National, State, and Local Registers of Historic Places) and only took my first Archives class to help expand my research knowledge.  However, after taking the class and processing my first collection at the Center for Sacramento History, I quickly learned that I really enjoyed the field and working with original documents.

 That collaborative spirit will serve you well as you work with our Museum and Archives team, as well as providing Archives services to the people here in Chilliwack! Tristan, you have Archives experience working in the California State Archives. What kinds of things did you do there?

California State Archives Logo

 I worked as a Processing Assistant at the California State Archives.  In this capacity, I processed three different collections of various sizes and wrote finding aids for each collection using archival standards.  The first collection I processed was the California Assembly Agriculture Committee records.  Next, I worked on the Tim Leslie Papers.  This collection was unique in that it had over 200 audio-visual records in the form audio tapes, video tapes, and compact discs.  However, the collection I most enjoyed working on was my third collection, the California Department of Social Welfare Records.  To date, this is the second largest processed collection at the California State Archives followed only by the Governor Earl Warren Papers.  Records from this collection stretched from 1903 to 1979.  Because of the many departmental changes throughout the years, the collection consisted of two record groups, several sub-record groups, some sub-sub record groups, almost 200 different series, multiple sub-series, and even some sub-sub series.  It was an extremely challenging collection.  Learning about the transformation of social services in California was fascinating.  I believe that the records in this collection are truly unique and I am very proud of the fact that I helped improve access to these records for future researchers.

 You also worked closely with Indigenous communities in Northern California. How might that experience inform your work in Chilliwack?

 Previously I had the honor to work for the United Auburn Indian Community (UAIC) as the Cultural Resources Assistant.  I worked under the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer and consulted with State and Federal agencies as an Architectural Historian for the Community with regards to Traditional Cultural Properties and Traditional Cultural Resources.  Naturally, working in the Preservation Department at UAIC, I worked with community members every day.  It is hard to quantify the special experience that I acquired while working for UAIC.  The understanding that I gained in this position will reflect many of the decisions that I will make at the Archives.

 If you could share one thing with people about the value of community Archives, what would it be?

 As a Public Historian, I think that community Archives reflect the soul of a community.  Only in a community Archives will you find information on local individuals, local buildings and properties, local points of interest, and of course, local history.  These records often get lost, underutilized, or deemed too unimportant in larger organizations.

 You have only been in Chilliwack a few weeks now, and arrived during an ice-storm! Apart from your work, what kind of things are you looking forward to discovering and doing here in Chilliwack?

 I have been told that Chilliwack is a great place to live if you are in to the outdoors.  For this reason I made sure to bring my kayaks, mountain bike, stand up paddleboard, skies, snow shoes, and snowboard.  I am really excited to take my kayak down the Chilliwack River and explore the Tamahi rapid as well as the sections upstream.  I am also looking forward to mountain biking on Vedder Mountain and exploring the many hikes in the area.  When the weather warms up I will contact the Chilliwack Crusaders rugby club.

Thanks, Tristan, for taking the time to introduce yourself! Welcome to the Chilliwack Museum and Archives team. 

Tristan Evans is the Archivist at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives. The Archives are located at Evergreen Hall, 9291 Corbould Street, in Chilliwack. We are open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 9:00am – 4:30pm, and Tuesdays and Thursdays by appointment. If you have any questions about locally significant historic records, or simply to connect with Chilliwack’s history, you can contact Tristan at [email protected] or by phone at (604) 795-5210 ext. 104. 

A Century of Remembrance – Piper James C. Richardson VC

Posted on: September 30th, 2016 by Matthew Francis
All are welcome to attend the Centennial Commemoration for Piper James C. Richardson VC, October 8th.

All are welcome to attend the Centennial Commemoration for Piper James C. Richardson VC, October 8th, 2016. 

The pipes are coming “home!” – Piper James C. Richardson’s bagpipes, lost a century ago on the battlefield, will be on display during the Centennial Commemoration at the Chilliwack Museum. 

On Saturday, October 8th, 2016, the Chilliwack Museum and Archives will host an event to commemorate the centennial of the valorous death in battle at the Somme of Piper James Cleland Richardson VC. The day will mark one hundred years since Piper Richardson courageously gave in life in service at Regina Trench. The day also marks the 13th anniversary of the dedication of the statue of Piper Richardson on the Museum grounds, and the 10th anniversary of the repatriation of his bagpipes to Canada from Scotland.

At 12:30pm, while guests are arriving, musical selections will be performed by the Chilliwack Harmony Chorus.

The program will begin promptly at 1:00pm, and the public is invited to attend.

The Commanding Officer of the Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary’s) has confirmed his attendance, together with members of his Pipe Major and other guests. Royal Canadian Legion #4 will form the Colour Party, and members of RCL#280 are also cordially invited. Dress with medals is requested. Other members of the Richardson family have been invited, along with local dignitaries.

We are asking attendees to gather at the Museum grounds near the Piper Richardson monument – 45820 Spadina Avenue in Chilliwack – at 12:30pm. Limited seating for invited guests and seniors will be available, but will generally be standing room only. Following the ceremony, a reception will take place in the Chambers Gallery at the Museum, to which all are invited.

Through the courtesy of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, and the Speaker of the House, the Honourable Linda Reid, the bagpipes belonging to Piper James Richardson, which were recovered from the battlefield at Regina Trench, will be temporarily on display in the Chilliwack Museum, following the event. These pipes are part of the permanent collection of the Legislative Assembly. We are grateful to Mayor Sharon Gaetz, and Mr. Laurie Throness, MLA, for their assistance in facilitating the loan to Chilliwack of this significant Canadian artifact. James Richardson’s historic “home” pipes, which he played prior  to deployment overseas, will also be present, and will be played during the ceremony.

This will be a dignified event that will honour one of Canada and Chilliwack’s true heroes. Please join us!