By Kelsey Ablitt, Education Assistant
Once again, I find myself shocked that the summer is nearing its end and my time at the museum is coming to an end. This summer, I was given the opportunity to work at the museum as a summer student for a second year. Last summer was a major learning curve, as I was newer to the museum and how it worked. This year, I was familiar with the place and the staff, creating a comfortable environment to jump right in!
May was an exciting and busy month as we celebrated the 60th anniversary of the historical society and hosted the British Columbia Historical Federation Conference. During the conference, I had the opportunity to go on a Hops Tour. Learning about a major industry for both Chilliwack’s past and present was an exciting experience. We toured hop fields that had been used decades ago when hops were a booming industry in Chilliwack.
One of my favourite things from this summer was our Cardboard City, held in the Chambers Gallery. After mapping out a section of the downtown area, we used larger cardboard to create the blocks. Once we had our blocks and streets mapped out, we decided to add a few historic buildings such as the museum, the British Columbia Electric Railway Station, the Paramount and a few historic hotels. Once this basic outline of “Chilliwhack” (our unofficial name for the cardboard city) was complete, we opened our city up for construction for two weeks. Within the first day we saw a great turn out, new buildings such as Sticky’s Candy and the Book Man were added. Over the course of the two weeks, members of the community continued to take part and add to Chilliwhack. By the end, our city limits were jam packed with various buildings, vehicles, people, even piper-cleaner powerlines and Cultus Lake. Cardboard City was one of the projects I was most excited for this summer, and I am beyond happy with how successful it was!
Having built a strong connection with the museum, I’ve learned more about Chilliwack’s history. Whenever I drive around town, I think of all the random facts I know about the various places in the community. As sad as I am to be leaving in a few weeks, I cannot help but look forward to working along side the archives and Stephanie, the Education and Engagement Coordinator, this fall as I will be creating a local history kit for my directed studies course. If I had not built strong connections at the museum, I may not have had the opportunity to combine my love of local history and education. I’ve had amazing experiences these last two summers and I cannot wait to see what opportunities will continue to come from having worked here.