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@CHWKMuseum

Official Blog of the Chilliwack Museum and Archives

Posts Tagged ‘artifacts’

Coming Together (Staying Apart)

Posted on: March 20th, 2020 by Anna Irwin

With the COVID-19 pandemic constantly evolving, life is shifting rapidly these days. As borders close, facilities shutter and services reduce in the community, an eerie feeling can be felt over the streets. Life feels as though it is coming to a standstill, especially as the calls to stay indoors and self-isolate become stronger. The urge to do something – anything – is high.

Every crisis is different, as is every response. Over time, Chilliwackians  have collaborated, solving crises together and tackling challenges with appropriate levels of generosity, consideration and resiliency. 

Photograph of Chilliwack during the 1894 flood showing the area that is now Main Street and Yale Road West. [Chilliwack Museum and Archives, 1973.034.010]

In Crisis: Flooded With Kindness

When disasters like the 1894 flood happened, communities like Chilliwack banded together to support our neighbours. When the Mission gauge on the Fraser River reached 25.75 feet on June 6, the floodwaters covered many of our streets, submerging hundreds of hectares of farm land and Five Corners. As all communication with New Westminster was unavailable and the floodwaters left residents stranded, The Chilliwack Progress reported that Chilliwack’s Mayor Samuel Cawley “advised the taking of a row boat and making at once to [New] Westminster for the purpose of obtaining aid.” He, along with a crew of four men, rowed down the Fraser River, taking approximately five hours to arrive at New Westminster. The men procured the Gladys, a steamer, and brought her up the Fraser River with the hopes of having the vessel assist with saving livestock and anyone unable to save themselves.

Photograph of grade three students at Central Elementary taking part in a Junior Red Cross rally in 1962. Chilliwack has a long history of supporting each other in times of need. [Chilliwack Progress Press Photograph, May 16, 1962. Chilliwack Museum and Archives, 1999.029.021.057]

At War: Stitching It Together

In times such as World War One, Chilliwackians embraced wartime efforts led by groups such as the Sardis Red Cross Sewing Circle. The group, which crafted a handmade red and white quilt in 1918 and embroidered the names of Chilliwackians who donated ten cents, donated all profits to the war effort. Approximately 400 names are contained on the quilt, which was then raffled off and won by A.C. Wells. At the Chilliwack Museum and Archives, the quilt [1972.035.001] serves as a proud reminder of our community coming together to support a cause larger than itself.

Staying Apart: Influenza of 1918

As we are seeing today with COVID-19, pandemics can bring life to a screeching halt. While different, the 1918 influenza pandemic did just that in Chilliwack in 1918. The flu spread rapidly, transmitting between people primarily through airborne particles shared through sneezing and coughing. Soldiers returning home from war compounded the spread.

Advertisement published in the Chilliwack Progress by H.J. Barber (druggist) in November 1918.

Acting upon orders issued by the Provincial Board of Health, the Municipality of Chilliwhack and the City of Chilliwack closed all gathering spaces to fight the spread of the virus indefinitely in October 1918. All churches, theatres, schools and various gathering spaces such as pool halls were closed to the public for a period of a few months. To cope with the hundreds of cases, Coqualeetza Institute was transformed into an emergency hospital.

During the “flu ban,” Chilliwackians worked together by staying apart. Begrudgingly accepting the conditions of the ban, local churches like Saint Thomas Anglican Church cancelled public services, instead encouraging local parishioners to continue prayer and meditation at their regular hours at home when the bells were sounded. Meetings were cancelled, demonstrations postponed and theatrical performances indefinitely put on the backburner. Individuals who fell sick were to report their illness to J.C. Henderson (Medical Health Officer) immediately: failure to do so was grounds for prosecution. Following illness, a minimum of ten to fifteen days of self-isolation was prescribed.

After a closure of multiple weeks, life slowly began to normalize. City and municipal operated works re-opened on November 17 and the ban on gatherings was lifted. While multiple deaths were attributed to the outbreak, Henderson noted the death rate was low, no doubt due to actions taken to contain the spread.

Of Our Time: COVID-19

It is tempting to draw parallels between the 1918 influenza outbreak and what we see unfolding before us today.

We are in the early days of this pandemic. We do not know what will happen. What we do know for certain is that following the lead of our medical professionals has led our communities back to health before. We also know that history has shown Chilliwackians are resilient: when life has thrown us curveballs, we have adapted to the situation and persevered with a constant eye to protecting our community members.

As in the past, we are asked to come together by staying apart. This can be challenging for us – we are social beings. We want to be with people: to be with our loved ones in care homes, to celebrate birthdays, to catch up with friend groups and go to concerts. Please don’t.

Like the influenza of 1918, COVID-19 will pass eventually. It will be in its own way and will be in its own time but what we are living through right now will end. Life will normalize.

Stay strong. Come together – but stay apart.

Interactive Discovery Bins

Posted on: May 2nd, 2018 by Kelsey Ablitt

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!

Exploring Chinese-Canadian history in the Fraser Valley

Posted on: July 12th, 2017 by Adrienne Rempel

The Chilliwack Museum and Archives’ latest exhibition 金山梦! 勇闯菲沙河谷 (Gold Mountain Dream: Bravely Venture into the Fraser Valley) is now open! From rare archival images and artifacts, to detailed storytelling and interactive elements, this exhibition focuses on early Chinese-Canadian history in the Fraser Valley.

Installation view of exhibition.

Installation view of the exhibition.

The Background Story

In the 1800s, gold fever consumed the world. Masses of people from all corners of the world voluntarily migrated to far-off locations such as Australia, New Zealand, California and British Columbia. Their goal was to find not only gold, but a better life for themselves and their families. By 1858 the territory now known as BC saw its first major gold rush along the Fraser Valley.

In Chinese culture, there was a myth about 山金 (Gold Mountain) that helped fuel an influx of migrants who journeyed from ports in Hong Kong across the Pacific Ocean to Victoria in search for new fortune. This resulted in the first large Chinese settlement in Canada.

After the gold rush lost its momentum, many workers of Chinese origin chose Chilliwack as a place to settle down and try to build a new life. It wasn’t easy. Much of Chilliwack’s early infrastructure, from roads to farmlands, was developed by Chinese laborers. It was strenuous work, clearing the land of trees and cultivating soil at low pay, and many workers couldn’t afford to have their families join them in Canada.

Business owners Wong Gip She (right) and Wong Gip Low She (left) with their two sons Banford and David, c. 1916. CMA P7642

Chinatown South business owners Wong Gip She (right) and Wong Gip Low She (left) with their two sons Banford and David, c. 1916. CMA P7642

Many persevered, however, and by the 1880’s a Chinese merchant class emerged (and between 1908 and 1930 comprised 10% of the registered businesses in Chilliwack). By 1920 the city had two distinct Chinatowns: Chinatown North situated above the Five Corners region; and Chinatown South, around what is now Yale Road West. At their height, the Chinatown’s were host to a bustling population living in large 2-storey wood-frame buildings, including a Chinese Masonic Hall.

An International Exhibition

Key historical content for the exhibition’s local elements was based on the 2011 book Chilliwack’s Chinatowns: A History by Chad Reimer. The Gold Mountain Dream panels are a travelling exhibition organized by the Royal British Columbia Museum, Victoria, in collaboration with the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec. These panels are bilingual, and are written both in English and Simplified Chinese. Beyond Chilliwack, Gold Mountain Dream has been displayed at the Guangdong Museum of Chinese Nationals Residing Abroad (Guangzhou, China) and the Chinese Cultural Centre Museum (Vancouver, BC).

Detail view of artifacts in a display case.

Detail view of artifacts in a display case.

Interactive Elements

The exhibition has interactive content for viewers of all ages, from touchable objects, to videos, an audiostation, and an introductory Mahjong set. So bring the whole family for a visit, or plan a Thursday evening date night to catch this stunning exhibition!

The exhibition will continue running throughout the summer until October 9th.