Picture R.J. Haney Heritage Village mid-winter blanketed by a fresh snowfall. One of the volunteers, Rosemary Wilson, has shoveled the driveway. A truck pulls up. Unannounced, Danley Carriage and Wheel is about to deliver the last of the vehicles its owner, Dwayne Danley, has contracted to restore. The vehicle is historic. It is a cutter – a small horse drawn sleigh. The project, started almost a year and a half earlier, is coming to a close.
Danley takes General Manager Susan Mackie through his restoration. He is a pro. He shows Susan the parts he has replaced and saved for the curator. He knows she’ll want them. Susan marvels. There are Robertson screws. She knows her history. The screws are old enough for this restoration.
The seat has been repaired and reupholstered in a rich red-burgundy fabric. Susan smiles. Wouldn’t you just like to put on a fur coat and a muff and go for a ride?
The artefact will be on display in the building we affectionately call the Hanna Shed. It is a modified salt box style single gable building that came from Hanna and Hanna orchard. The democrat, doctor’s buggy and a few other cutters sit there now. A total of four vehicles are now restored.
The Shuswap Community Foundation funded this project.
“We’re so grateful,” Susan says. “With all the work we do taking care of the buildings and with the Montebello project starting this month at the Village, we don’t have the resources to restore these artefacts.”
People need to see what a lovely job Dwayne Danley did. The curator, yours truly, is making plans to take this cutter on the road to town. I am hoping to arrange for the cutter and maybe a fur coat or two to be at the Mall at Piccadilly for Heritage Week. See you in the third week of February!
When Louis Thomas stopped by the Salmon Arm Museum the other day he talked about Secwepemc storytelling and the oral tradition he grew up with. It was a great opening line. I asked him to sit down and retell a story he’d told at the opening of the museum’s C.P.R. exhibit, the Train Stopped Here. He had already agreed that I could use his story, but I wanted to get my facts right. My tradition wasn’t oral. I needed a keyboard and Louis agreed that I needed his help.
Louis Thomas was 14 years old when he was sent away to Residential School in Kamloops. He wasn’t impressed with the schooling he’d been receiving in Salmon Arm, but he wasn’t old enough to quit.
His parents had attended the same residential school. Mary Thomas, Louis’ mother, once told me that she went to the Catholic school on the reserve in Kamloops until she was 16. She figured she had earned a grade 4 education when she was done.
It surprised me that Mary would have let any of her kids go to that particular school. She’d been humiliated there, robbed of her language, and punished for stealing food when she was hungry. It was an awful place.
So I asked Louis why his Mom, Mary, let him go.
“She’d have been breaking the law if she didn’t send me,” Louis said evenly. He went on to say that in those days parents were jailed for keeping kids out of school.
Louis was sent to Kamloops in September. He doesn’t have fond memories of the term. It was a long three months. He didn’t stick around for a report card.
“It was too regimented,” Louis said. “They told me when to get up, when to pray, when to eat.”
“I was used to a freer life on the reserve,” Louis continued. “The reserve was my playground. I enjoyed life there.”
Then Louis dropped a bomb. “They were grooming me for jail,” he said smiling. “I got tired of it.”
So one night Louis packed his small suitcase and snuck out. He walked to the C.P.R. freight yard and looked around for an open empty box car. His heart sank. There were none. Just then he spotted a train leaving. He had to hurry to climb up on a moving car.
“I put my suitcase in front of me as a wind breaker,” Louis said remembering the cold winter night. “It helped a little.”
More than an hour later the train was approaching the steel bridge crossing the Salmon River near Tappen. There was a trail he knew from there to the back of his house.
“I threw my suitcase off,” Louis said. He knew there was sawdust around the mill siding. It would break his fall.
“I did a western roll,” Louis said of his descent from the train. As he tumbled, he noticed the train stopped ahead of him! He didn’t have to jump off.
When I asked Louis if he continued his studies or if he was done with school after that, he smiled. Apparently school wasn’t done with him.
“I went to Vancouver next, I wasn’t old enough to be out of school,” Louis said.
Louis finished his formal education at the Vancouver Vocational Institute. Unfortunately, I didn’t ask him how he got back from schooling at VVI. Truth be told, the mother in me didn’t want to ask.
Over the last five years, the City of Salmon Arm’s Community Heritage Commission has been working on a program that acknowledges the historic names of our roads. They were names that meant something in community development.
So far, 38 streets have been designated. They have stylized brown signs above the Calgary-grid-inspired numbered streets.
The street names were replaced with numbers in 1973. It seems the community leaders of the day wanted a whole new approach that made it easy for newcomers to find locations. A similar scheme had been proposed in 1968, but found a very vocal opposition.
“The whole idea is stupid; old names mean something, numbers don’t,” Ethel Belli-Bivar told the municipal council.
Some ideas don’t go away. When the item came back on the agenda for a second time, community leaders thought that a grid system, no matter how many of the streets curved, was better. Perhaps Ethel was not her usual vocal self.
When Robert Hobson was contracted to create a Heritage Strategy for the City of Salmon Arm in 2009, he spent some time in the community figuring us out. He looked at the street names. He noted the lack of community history. One of Hobson’s recommendations to council was the program we have today.
The City leaders accepted the Hobson strategy and created the Community Heritage Commission to spearhead the work.
Every year the committee has worked away at the recommendations Hobson made. It chose streets, buildings, and spaces that should be on a heritage register. It created a template for street signs and plaques.
Jump ahead to 2014 when a friend had a medical emergency shopping at Askew’s, the local grocery store.
My friend and mother of my surrogate grandchildren, had her girls Jasmine and Morgan with her. The girls ran to get help. An ambulance was called.
But what were the staff at Askew’s to do with the two lively 8 year olds?
When asked for their phone number, neither Jasmine nor Morgan knew it. Memorizing the number was on the Mom’s list of things to do.
Where do you live? The girls were asked.
The two surrogates were healthy and active and could probably have walked their way home, but they couldn’t tell the clerk what their street address was.
“What about a grandparent?” The clerk asked. The staff at Askew’s were skilled.
The girls knew their grandma’s name. First and last. Askew’s staff checked the telephone listings and called for help. They were connected to the girls’ other local grandma. Mom was going to be okay.
So fast forward another year. Travelling to or from one of our adventures, I asked the 9 year olds sitting in their booster seats, “Where do you live?”
“On Leech Hill,” they chimed in unison. Their actual street address – a number – was still a mystery.
Almost fifty years later, I have to agree with Ethel Belli-Bivar. Names mean something, numbers don’t.
R.J. Haney Heritage Village General Manager Susan Mackie handed me a catalogue of door hardware recently. Her instructions were to pick out the door handles for the Montebello building ASAP. Why? If the project was to be completed to lock up, doors for the project needed to be constructed soon, so the knobs had to be chosen right away. The manufacturer, Dale Widdifield at Windowland, planned to cut the holes for the knobs and locks in his workshop, before the doors were installed. He needed to know what kind of locks we planned to use to get the placements right.
I was soon acquainted with the elements of a door knob. I had to choose a rosette, a knob – either keyed or non-keyed, a dead bolt, and a finish. It was going to be a complicated order. There were nine exterior doors on the main floor of the building, three washrooms, and lots of interior doorknobs. The Montebello project was to look like buildings that were constructed at different times, so the door knobs had to look like they had been bought at different times.
I consulted my 1908 reproduction American Sears Catalogue. The Canadian Eaton’s reproduction catalogue was an earlier production - 1901.
Unfortunately all the Sears catalogues were reproduced missing pages 472-5. The lock section wasn’t there. Quality control wasn’t either.
The next thing I did was take photos of the knobs on Haney’s heritage buildings. They were good examples: Haney House, Pidhirney House, Laitinen House. It was obvious some were replacements knobs.
The modern catalogue of knobs Susan gave me had a mixture of modern and reproduction Victorian and Arts and Crafts designs. I picked out my favourites. Victorian knobs were too old for buildings at Haney Heritage Village. I needed the Montebello to represent a collection of buildings that were Edwardian – sometime after the death of Queen Victoria.
I called on Cuyler Page, the heritage consultant we had take President Norma Harisch’s drawings of a multi- purpose museum building into a concept plan. Consulting our archival photographs and my list of buildings essential to an historic commercial development, Cuyler had created drawings that we could present to our architect, Bernd Hermanski. Cuyler, a skilled draftsman, made sure the concept was influenced by the right era
Cuyler knew exactly what to look for. He said door knobs were like an initial handshake with the visitor.
Wow. What a thought! The first impression.
Cuyler said we needed at least three different types of knobs. They had to be a mixture of finishes. For security’s sake, we could use deadbolts, but they had to be mounted below the doorknobs so they wouldn’t be as visible. Cuyler went on to say that he had done a door knob display when he was the Curator at the Kamloops Museum. He called door knobs jewelry for buildings.
I loved the idea. Picking out jewelry! Unfortunately, I found out I couldn’t throw in any bling, like glass door knobs. They were strictly residential knobs, Cuyler told me.
Cuyler agreed to meet in Vernon at a coffee shop. We went through the catalogue, made a list of the businesses and started to choose knob styles. An hour and a half later we had talked about the stores, their exterior finishes, and the need for crash door closures.
Thanks to Cuyler’s subsequent fine tuning over the weekend, a presentable door knob schedule was delivered electronically to the General Contractor.
One more task done.
Footnote: Images courtesy Emtek
Every spring I create a new exhibit for the gallery space at the Salmon Arm Museum. Most years the idea for the exhibit is inspired by an artefact. This year it was a large artefact that demanded my attention, a mangle once used to “wring” wet sheets and tablecloths free of excess water.
The artefact also demanded research. Who would have used such a large piece of machinery? It was too big for Mrs. Haney’s kitchen, so it wasn’t a household item. It seemed obvious that its first owners worked at laundries contracted to do dirty hotel and hospital linen, but who exactly were the community launderers?
The easily accessible 1921 Wrigley’s directory listed Chong Kee and Mah Yick as owners of Chinese Hand Laundries in Salmon Arm, but I knew there were more. When Rex Lingford took a photograph of the first Presbyterian Church, he accidently “shot” the laundry businesses too: Yip Yen and Sam Kee had advertising signs on their unpainted buildings. The photo also showed that the men hung their laundry out-of-doors on Beatty Street in what locals called Chinatown.
I turned to the newspaper. There were several references to the laundrymen in 1913, but one man, Mah Yick, stood out. He challenged community-held stereotypes. Not content to remain west of Finn Hall with the other Chinese laundries, Mah brought his business to the attention of townsfolk when he moved it to Hudson St., smack in the middle of downtown Salmon Arm.
A hundred years later, it is clear that Mah made an astute business move. He seized an opportunity to offer his services in close proximity to hotels Montebello, Empress and Alexandra and, in the move to the downtown core, he pushed back at local barriers to Chinese-run businesses. Aldermen Bruhn and Connelly cited sanitary reasons for wanting all hand laundries to stay in Chinatown, west of Shuswap.
But how was I to go about telling this story?
A good exhibit uses artefacts, graphic images, and a compelling story. An even better one helps set the stage with smells and sound. All I had was a mangle and a few scrub boards, basins, and sad irons. I needed the context of a bigger picture.
I turned to photographs as reference materials. They tell a story without words. After searching my own archives, I asked the regional museums for help. They didn’t have interior shots of laundries either. Then I hit gold. Calgary’s Glenbow had several interior hand laundry images in the right timeframe and Archivist Doug Cass was willing to help with the project.
With the Glenbow’s print-offs in hand, R.J. Haney Heritage Village’s carpenter Nev Whatley built a scale model wooden washing machine and sink. Then he created a new room for Mah to live in.
Nev and I were getting the laundry business under control, the setting for the story, but something was missing. To put the finishing touches on the exhibit I asked Salmon Arm’s Eugenie Mah to be my cultural advisor. Eugenie is Cantonese, like Mah, and a retired business woman. She agreed to help make the exhibit feel right. Eugenie also enlisted her sister, Benedicte Lee. The two women started gathering household items to share.
Meanwhile in Toronto, Mah Yick’s granddaughter, Teresa Bradford, shared her family records and images. The story expanded. Laura, Teresa’s mother, a W.W. II veteran, was one of first Canadian-born “Chinese” residents to receive her citizenship in 1947. Laura Mah’s story had to be told.
More graphic images arrived from the Women’s College in Toronto where Helen Mah, Laura’s older sister, attended nursing school. Then Canadian Chinese Military Museum in Vancouver helped with a good image of Laura Mah. The Oak Bay High School donated a copy of Laura’s graduation certificate, something that was supposed to be issued in 1944. Laura had to wait until 2008 to receive it! The story was growing.
Finally, photography buffs Ian and Wendy Clay graciously agreed to reshoot several images that Rex Lingford took of “Mah’s town” a hundred years ago. The Clays discovered first hand how much the views have changed. Trees are in the way, buildings are taller, and, thankfully, the City of Salmon Arm’s ethnically designated business areas are gone.
The month has flown. The park opened May 11th with a new exhibit in place. The buildings were freshly cleaned and set up for the season. On sunny days, many tourists walk in to see what we are all about. It seems like the season, like spring, has come early this year.
The Montebello project continues. The footings for the boardwalk were poured early in June. Integrity began working on the roof. The building will be close to lock up stage soon.
Amidst the sound of construction are happy children on school tours. This is an unusual year. It isn’t the way it is supposed to be, with heavy equipment operating from behind the construction fence. How do we tell this story?
The always optimistic General Manager was first out to meet the children on Thursday, June 1st. Susan Mackie donned her old fashioned gear to meet Highland Park’s grades ones and threes. The Armstrong children had come for a “Haney Day” that included tours, games, school, making ice cream, panning for gold, a walk along Helenita’s nature trail, and watching a smithy magically turn something hard into another shape. They were pumped and dressed for the occasion.
Behind the construction fence, Exel’s crews were cutting rebar, making forms for the concrete pillars that would be poured the next day, applying “rolled” roofing to the Montebello’s “flat” roof, and just doing what needed to be done.
Susan was cheerful. The situation wasn’t ideal, but putting her best food forward, she told the students that Mr. Haney had a lot of money and was building a new building so that they had more things to see and do next year. They’d have to come back to see what he was up to!
From a curatorial standpoint, grades 1 and 3 still believe in magic. You can convince them to suspend disbelieve when they come to the Village. They also don’t really get worked up or confused about the obvious conflict between presentations. They comfortably disassociate being taught how to gold pan by a historical character, Pete the gold widow, right beside a journeyman carpenter banging away on a new 6,000 square foot building.
What did the students learn? The things we usually teach about the days of the early settlers. They went away tired, filled with ice cream that they had help to churn, and, hopefully, wanting to bring their parents back to see the Montebello project’s progress.
Thank you teachers and parents for your patience! We’re still open for business.
We were in a party mood. The Museum’s annual gala took place on June 24th - a Friday. The weather was iffy. A hundred of us gathered for the occasion. The audience was people who helped with the two new exhibits and the construction of the Montebello.
We launched the online exhibit Flight from the Flames and opened the new exhibit “It’s laundry day every day – the story of Mah Yick’s Chinese Hand Laundry. We were also celebrating the locking up of the Montebello project – the building that will house the new museum, archives room, vault for archival storage, administration offices, and nine dioramas.
The doors were in place and the staff of Exel Construction Ltd had done its best to make the space presentable for viewing– doors and their hardware!
When we gathered Neskonlith Indian Band Counselor Louis Thomas kindly gave an introduction to the space, speaking in Secwepemctsin, telling us beforehand that he didn’t have a lot of his own language to draw on.
When he translated his words, it was obvious that Louis, although
brief, was speaking volumes. He told the crowd that his ancestors have lived in the Shuswap for many, many, many generations. He said that before contact with the Europeans, his people, the Secwepemc, were responsible for taking care of this piece of the world. The Secwepemc, he said, were Mother Earth’s stewards.
Then Louis brought us to the present quickly, saying that, at this moment in time, it was up to all of us to work together to take care of the land. Louis has a reconciliatory nature. He was also doing what his mother, Dr. Mary Thomas, always did in situations like this, graciously sharing his time and reminding us that all cultures had to work together. The crowd applauded.
Then, the next elected official spoke. It was Grad night, so Mayor Nancy Cooper was busy elsewhere congratulating three hundred and eight hopeful young people. Counsellor Louise Wallace Richmond came in the Mayor’s place. When Louise spoke she actually took my breath away. Her words had the power to move this historian!
I asked Louise if I could share her words with you. She kindly agreed, saying that she had meant every word.
“It has been an historic day in Salmon Arm.
As we gather to open these exhibits, we also celebrate the graduation of the class of 2016. This morning, we awoke to the prospect of a new Europe, one where the UK would not be part of the EU.
And that brings me to this place. That Haney has the power to honour our past and set sail for our future gives me great hope for the capacity of this small community to build its future.
That’s history for you. It’s like the wind. Sometimes it’s a gentle breeze, sometimes it’s a hurricane. But the wind blows every day. The wind reminds us of where we’ve come from and powers our course for the future.
In fact, I’ve watched Haney from afar for many years. I was married in this school house. My husband’s family has been in Salmon Arm for five generations. I’ve only been here for 15 years. I’m surprised I’ve even earned my admission.
On my way to the gala tonight, I got to thinking about what an amazing community Haney has built. You have a school and a church, a tea house and blacksmith shop, a fire department and a gas station. I hope there are no secret plans to hold a referendum and leave Salmon Arm. You would be truly missed.
But kidding aside, the commitment, time and funds you have given to this place is a love letter to the future.
My very favourite heritage photo of Salmon Arm is “Clean Up Day in Salmon Arm” where workers gathered on the steps of the old Montebello Hotel to make their community better. It is my hope, in the not too distant future, we too can gather on the steps of the new Montebello building during Canada 150th birthday to recreate that moment and remember our shared responsibility to one another.
David G. Wood
So, on behalf of Mayor and Council, the City of Salmon Arm and its citizens, thank you from the bottom of my heart, for making Salmon Arm better both for its past and its future. We are very grateful for all that you do.”
So with that President Norma Harisch, Exhibit Co-curator and cultural advisor Eugenie Mah, Louise Wallace Richmond and I cut the ribbon. The scissors were historic and gave us some trouble. It was to be expected because they were almost fifty years old. They were used in 1967 to open the C.I.B.C. on the original site of the Montebello Hotel.
It was truly an historic occasion!
I had a lovely visit this month. Janet Bradley, granddaughter of Mah Yick, came to Salmon Arm from Ontario after reading my blog about the opening of the Mah Yick Laundry. Janet was on a mission. She wanted to see the museum exhibit about her grandfather, reconnect with Judy Tweeddale Birkhiem - the daughter of a friend she last saw in 1964, see her niece Amanda Miller, and visit the Springer cabin on the Shuswap where her family celebrated her sister's 16th birthday. She also wanted to meet me. She said my research into Salmon Arm life in the early 20th century and the laundry exhibit gave her a glimpse into the life of a grandfather she had never known.
I had a list of things to do as well. We had to see the exhibit, Janet had to meet my cultural advisor, Eugenie Mah, and figure out if they were related by marriage, we had to have Chinese food in honour of the special meals Mah Yick ordered when his daughters returned for visits in the 1940s, see the original location of the Mah Yick Chinese Hand Laundry on Hudson Ave., and have brunch with Judy since she was connected to the story as well.
Janet confirmed the museum version of the story of Mah Yick and her grandmother Jean (Ing Loiew How). She had letters from Elsie Tweeddale with the details. Elsie was Judy’s mother and had been a friend of Janet’s mother, Helen, since they were teenagers. Janet had kept in touch with Elsie after her visit to Salmon Arm in 1964. Elsie was also a good friend of Mrs. Springer, who was a good friend of Mah Yick’s wife and Janet’s Grandmother, Jean. There were just three degrees of separation.
Janet and I “met” by email after the museum exhibit was launched and she arranged a visit. She flew into Kelowna with her husband Don, rented a car, and drove to Salmon Arm with a memory stick of digital images of her mother’s days in Salmon Arm.
The images on the stick showed their 90+ years. Their surfaces were cracked and there was evidence of lots of handling. All archivists go nuts over this stuff. We ignore the flaws and look at the images as precious records. The scans were a delightful connection to our community’s history. They showed the affection of a group of women that had no cultural boundaries and the love they had for their friend’s two motherless children.
Janet’s story was confirmed by several sources. The Salmon Arm Observer reported a birthday party Mrs. Springer threw for Helen when she turned six. Without Mrs. Springer, Janet’s mother, Helen, would not likely have had a party. Her mother had died in January. By the time the candles were lit, there was a plan afoot. The Methodist women of the community had convinced Mah Yick to allow his children to be taken to the Methodist-run Oriental School in Victoria. He was not able to look after a newborn and run his business. We know now that there were no other women of Asian descent in Salmon Arm. He must have struggled. Who would care for his children? The Observer reported when Mrs. Jessie Browne took Helen and her sister Laura to Victoria. A photocopy of the school records show the date of registration in Victoria. Jessie Browne was a member of the Methodist Church in Salmon Arm. The facts lined up.
When Janet saw the exhibit I could tell she was touched. Her eyes filled with tears. Janet talked with museum carpenter Nev Whatley who created the set used to tell the story. Nev told her about the dyes he used to age the wood in the reproduction artefacts.
Janet also spoke to Eugenie Mah about the Chinese artefacts Eugenie had brought in, including the jars of Chinese herbs and dung choy (preserved cabbage) which reminded Janet of home.
The 24 hour visit was over too soon. Like site seeing anywhere, we ran out of time because each stop took longer than expected. There wasn’t a tour guide to keep us on schedule. I called Phil Wright and found out where the cabin was located on the Sunnybrae Road, but Janet had a flight at 7 p.m. We didn’t get to visit Eugenie Mah in her home, but Eugenie came out to the village to meet Janet. It turned out that their families were from the same area, but not the same village in China. We didn’t get a photograph of Janet in front of the dollar store on Hudson Street that once was the location of her grandfather’s business.
Janet will just have to come back to Salmon Arm. Ontario isn’t that far!|
Although they never met her, Laura’s alma mater from Oak Bay High School's Class of ’58 are sharing her story.
Visit RJ Haney Heritage Village to see the exhibit. Summer hours of the Village are 10-5, 7 days a week.
Photo restoration by Jade Tomma. Thanks Jade!
Photographs top to bottom:
This description work usually begins with the presentation of a sizeable box brimming with papers, including photo albums and diaries perhaps, in various states of organization. Any metal must be removed to preserve paper materials. Photos must be placed in acid free envelopes. Then the papers, such as letters or minute books must be placed in similar groups chronologically, keyed into the computer records. At this point, patterns begin to emerge and stories unfold.
The R. Turner & Sons Ltd. file reveals the importance of Okanagan produce in the Second World War effort. The sheer size of orders shipped to the United States, probably for military bases, as well as many apple shipments to the British Ministry of Food during and after that war, is outstanding. At the same time, huge orders were shipped across Canada, many to military training bases and even prisoner internment facilities. Then there are the handwritten orders from here in British Columbia from smaller communities, like Beavermouth and Golden, mostly along the main CPR line. The amount of detailed organization required to fill and track the orders through government and border inspectors and the rail and marine arrangements is impressive.
Besides the orchard business, the R. Turner & Sons Ltd. files include many land transactions. The original property beside McGuire Lake became sites for a high school, medical clinic, law offices, hotel and the present Shuswap Lake hospital land were gradually subdivided, along with many small holdings. Eddie Turner signed on behalf of the company many of these transactions and mortgages for these properties. During the 1950’s he served as Reeve of the District of Salmon Arm for almost ten years.
As a resident of Salmon Arm for the past thirty-six years and relative “newcomer”, my Archives tasks have brought me closer to the real story of Salmon Arm. So, thank you, Deborah, for your patient persistence in your efforts to engage me in this process. And yes, I ought to have started ten years ago.
Working at a museum is not boring. How many people can say that they helped create an exhibit about their culture? In the first week of July, my first task was to learn how to accession artifacts, then to photograph all of the First Nations artifacts. Later I was to link all the photos to the Access database; this would allow the photos to pop up with the record when someone is researching it. I felt like I was helping the people in the future using the database by providing them visual evidence.
I was to do extensive research next. I looked through books, the internet and some records by explorers like James Teit and George Dawson. You will be able to read my work in the new Montebello museum; while you’re there, the timeline that both Deborah and I made will be hard to miss.
Towards the end of July, my last assignment was to search through old articles through the Salmon Arm Observer. I was to find news that referenced First Nations from 1907-1952 and not surprisingly I found a lot of racist comments. I then organized what I found into categories: Alcoholism, Racism, Violence, and Just Events.
With some spare time and using the tools I already possessed, I designed a virtual layout of the exhibit that we call, “Knowing the Land Beneath our Feet”. We thought about what design elements to use, such as the Kekuli; I thought that it was overused when trying to display my culture. During the meeting with heritage consultant, Cuyler Page, on the design of the exhibit, he gave me ideas as well inspiration.
Visiting other museums in the Shuswap territory also gave me inspiration. Deborah and I would road trip to First Nation exhibits in places like Kamloops, Revelstoke, Enderby and Vernon. We talked to the curators of the exhibits and asked them a number of questions about what their objective are. Now that we have
done all the hard work, it’s time to start talking to people in this living culture.
We had an interview with some elders from the Little Shuswap Indian Lake Band. They gladly participated, answering the questions we had for them and even providing further information we didn’t think to ask about. This interaction with people, who’ve lived through so many years as First Nations people, helped in creating the real experience we were looking to present in the exhibit. Nevertheless this experience, as well as the others, will help us eventually to make this exhibit the recognition of my peoples’ living culture. I feel proud of my accomplishments this summer.
Jade Tomma and I attended the Truth and Reconciliation ceremony at Salmon Arm’s Jackson Campus on Friday, September 30. It was a fitting day. It was Jade’s last day at the Salmon Arm Museum. She’d been hired on the Get Youth Working Program to design a layout and create the text for a permanent exhibit in the gallery of the Montebello building. The exhibit, Knowing the Land Beneath Our Feet, is to be an introduction to the story of Secwepemc people. Jade has been working hard to put into words what her culture means to her.
Jade and I found seats on the floor in the gymnasium. The bleachers were full. There were several hundred students in attendance.
The ceremony began. The special guests walked in wearing orange shirts. Many had attended residential schools. Irene LaBoucane, the Principal of Aboriginal Education, introduced the program. She’d invited me to the ceremony.
The event started with a traditional drum welcome by students. The video, Every Child Matters, followed. It featured Phyllis Webstad and the orange shirt project. Each person wearing an orange shirt was remembering and honouring residential school survivors.
Phyllis began with an account of the first day of school. She had just turned six.
Remember your first day of school? I do. We coloured a picture of an apple with parents hovering in the background. My dad was at the back of the class. I was scared. I think I remember crying.
Phyllis had very different memories. She grew up on Dog Creek reserve, an hour and a half southwest of Williams Lake. Phyllis’ family prepared her for school. Her grandmother took her to Robinson’s Store and she picked out a shiny new red shirt to wear to go to school in.
“It was an exciting time,” Phyllis said, remembering buying a new shirt to wear on her first day.
But when Phyllis arrived at the St. Joseph Indian Residential School near Williams Lake, the children were stripped of their clothing. She never saw that shirt again.
Residential school was devastating. “We just didn’t matter,” Phyllis said in the video. “We had to stay there for 300 sleeps.” Phyllis just wanted to go home. No matter how much she and others cried, no one listened.
Every child matters, even if they are adults.
Remembering, recovering and reconciling. That’s what this ceremony was all about. Pretty impressive.
Archives volunteers Rosemary Wilson and Lise Ouimet attended a workshop held at the Ursula Surtees Conservation this fall. They went with the right attitude. Who wants to drive to Kelowna at five in the morning? The two packed up and went the night before, checking into a nice hotel. It was a girl’s night out. I suspected there might be a bottle of French wine to share in the evening. The women did not disappoint:, they went to a pub and had a beer with supper. No expenses paid!
The workshop, Managing Archives, was partially funded by the Library and Archives Canada DHCP program and hosted by the Kelowna Museums. Archives Association of BC Education Advisor Lisa Glandt billed the workshop as an introductory course covering basic archival principles. Participants learned about appraising collections, and accessioning and de-accessioning, followed by how to process records.
Lise and Rosemary came home confident and beaming.
“I’m so glad we had a working knowledge of archives before the course. We would have been lost without it,” Lise said afterwards. She was reaffirmed and now dramatically puts her foot down on the subject of sketchy images. “No more photographs that are out of focus!” Lise will not process any more poor-quality images. She’s also thinking about de-accessioning those that don’t make the grade.
“We were told not to be afraid of de-accessioning items.”
Existing large collections should be re-evaluated periodically, and fuzzy images should not be preserved.
The course also reaffirmed Rosemary’s belief that we are doing a really good job. “I’m pretty proud of what we’ve accomplished in the archives at RJ Haney Heritage Village. Our little community archives is in good shape,” Rosemary Wilson said confidently.
I can see their point. It is nice to be reaffirmed.
Photograph credit: Allan Wilson
3 Amigos : left to right
Rosemary Wilson, Deborah Chapman, Lise Ouimet
Last year Gilda Koenig, a potential donor, approached me at the Salmon Arm Museum at RJ Haney Heritage Village with the offer of a switchboard from the Salmon Arm Motor Hotel. I knew right away she was talking about the MOHO - built in the 1960s – the landmark that replaced the old hospital by Little Lake.
The potential donor was a retired Okanagan Telephone, BC Tel, and Telus employee. She was living in Vernon and her switchboard was taking too much space in her garage. She’d heard about the Montebello project and wondered if we needed her artefact.
I was curious. I knew the artefact was too new and therefore too recent to install in the Montebello’s telephone exchange but decided, not being an expert, to seek out an authoritative opinion.
That’s when I called on Neil Sutcliffe.
Neil has been a friend to the museum for more than a decade and he does special things for the Curatorial Department. Most recently he wired a set of portable telephones in The Train Stopped Here exhibit. The phones had been used to communicate between points on CPR lines – were heavy and old, the kind that was used prior to the time when mobile radio systems were in common usage o the CPR. It was important that the exhibit’s phones work. George Alison, the telephone donor, wanted his collection to be a teaching collection, for gentle hands-on learning.
Neil ordered the wire he needed, refashioned some “telephone” poles we had on site, installed them, and made the train phones work. He continues to maintain them. He is like that. If he installs sound equipment, he is agreeable to getting the maintenance calls.
So when the switchboard donation opportunity came up, of course I called Neil.
“Could you look at this switchboard? It is in Vernon,” I told him. Neil went down to Vernon to have a look at the switchboard and it turned out to be a 'style' dating from the mid to late 1930s, even though the actual unit was built around 1960. It was not ideal in historical accuracy but was available and could be made to work with more readily available 'period' telephones to make an operating system for demonstration and educational purposes. Once the curator decided that the switchboard would be suitable, Neil and Nigel Jones, a buddy with a truck, made the trip south to bring it back.
“The switchboard is almost perfect,” Neil said. He promised me that technology had not changed drastically between our first community switchboard and this newer artefact. The two men brought the gift home and Neil arranged storage, somewhere level, where he could get it in and out easily, so he could work on its many electro-mechanical components.
“It has to work,” Neil said with a smile because he has a thing about things working that should.
Neil looked at my Telephone Exchange photo taken in 1914. He wanted the exhibit designed so that the switchboard was two feet from any wall. Just like in the photo. He wanted to be able to get in and work on the modules in the back. Coincidentally, the 1914 set up in Rex Lingford’s photograph allowed for a repairman too.
Neil and I discussed things that mattered to each of us. I told Neil I wanted Haney’s carpenter to build a cabinet around the current sixties cabinet. He wanted me to plan for wiring between the switchboard and other phones in the dioramas in the building. I looked at the telephone book from 1911. What businesses had phones?
I found five: EA Palmer’s Family Butcher Shop, the Bank of Hamilton, McGuire’s General Merchants, the Observer, and the Pool Hall. We don’t have that many telephones in the museum’s collection, but that didn’t deter either Neil or this curator from planning. Eventually they will be donated. All we have to do is to put a call out to the generous residents of Salmon Arm.
Of course some of the telephones should be teaching artefacts, demonstrable for gentle hands-on learning. That is where the exhibit design and layout is important. Some telephones have to be hanging on the walls in exhibits that allow for public access. That’s going to be the challenge exhibit designer Cuyler Page will figure out.
So when a phone rings in one of the dioramas at the Montebello Museum, will it be for you? Will you pick up the handset? What will you find out?
Thank you, Neil, for finding ways to make the new exhibits in the Montebello engaging and interactive.
People have a hard time imagining the excitement that is generated in the museum and archives at R.J. Haney Village during the winter months. Things happen!
Ted, the site’s caretaker and Manager of Construction, usually pops in for a visit once in a while. He sits down in the guest chair from the Hotel Montebello, and looks at the tools and farm equipment that we are working on. Ted is helpful. He likes to lend a hand identifying artefacts that we are struggling to classify. He’s got a certain knowledge that he can draw on - Ted owned a service station in Milk River for many years. He also shovels and sands the walk into the Museum building.
Last Friday Ted broke his leg in two places, slipping on ice. An ambulance was called. After a trip to Salmon Arm Hospital’s emergency department, Ted was taken to Vernon and operated on. He will be six weeks in recovery. Luckily for Ted it is winter. He loves curling and he’ll be able to watch a lot of games while he recovers. The ladies in the archives will just have to catalogue the “new” tools without his input.
With or without Ted in residence at the archives, we continue to serve researchers and the odd tourist. We print and sell photographs for Christmas gifts. With permission granted on both sides, we take care to connect families with relatives in our community. This month two sets of relatives unknown to each other in the United Kingdom and Australia were connected to their rellies in Salmon Arm.
It makes our day when the team is appreciated of course. One researcher, an academic in social history with Lancaster University, said, “I feel like Christmas has come early with a host of lovely presents to unwrap” when she received reports generated from our newspaper and tax record indices.
So we keep at it over the winter. Eight volunteers work on projects. One volunteer adds to her subject and “persons identified” lists in our database. Another adds tax records to the database. Yet another works on indexing the Salmon Arm Observer (to 1951 so far!). A fourth works on the cemetery headstone records. Another one sews clothing bags up for textile collections. Two others scan images and, as they say in the UK, “Our” Anne catalogues incoming artefacts. It is a busy place.
Ted’s visits will be missed of course, but we are hoping he’ll be down to the archives for a visit as soon as his crutches will allow!
The stats are in. In 2014 we served 191 patrons in the archives.That's a record breaker and a 22% increase over 2013!
When Pat Ogden commented on Greg Kyllo’s facebook page on the Chinese presence in Salmon Arm things happened. Phone calls started, emails were sent. Could the Mt. Ida Cemetery be nominated for Heritage BC’s Chinese Historic Places Recognition Project?
Pat’s suggestion came with credence. Pat is a Hopkins from Piccadilly Road. She grew up here, is keen about family history, and is working on a publication on the Mt. Ida District. She’s related to almost everyone out in the Salmon Valley. Every family, that is, that has been there for four or five generations.
Pat had been on one of my cemetery tours. She remembered a reference to the Chinese section of unmarked graves. I had told the crowd that in the 1960s the graves were marked by wooden sticks with Chinese characters on them.
Don Byers had told me about the markers, remembering a time when he worked for the District Municipality of Salmon Arm. He had attended my first cemetery tour. Don was also a Salmon Arm Museum board member. He was probably checking on me to make sure I was getting my facts straight! Don showed me where the graves were and his story was incorporated into the tour. Don passed away last year.
The graves Don pointed out were thought to be those of Chinese people who wanted their bones exhumed and sent back to China. Unfortunately their wishes were never fulfilled. In 1937, the last shipment of bones went to China. The outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War made more shipments impossible. Our deceased Chinese visitors became permanent residents.
Ted Reynolds, another District of Salmon Arm retired employee, also remembered the graves, though not the location. He knew they had had stick markers with characters on them, not how many or where they were.
Tony Fryer, the former caretaker at the Mt. Ida Cemetery knew about the graves as well. Tony took over the job after his parents, Wayne and Eleanor, retired and cared for the cemetery for 31 years. Tony pointed out the “Chinese” graves on a map. They were depressions without headstones. Tony told me recently that he didn’t fill them in because there was no record of who was buried there. Respecting the sinking land as evidence was Tony’s way of remembering that there were bodies interred in the ground below.
There’s a community-held memory of the cemetery records being lost in a fire. The story has come from several sources. Logically, the records would have been kept in town, not at the cemetery, either at City Hall located on Shuswap St. or with the record keeper for the District of Salmon Arm. The two organizations had separated in 1912 when the City of Salmon Arm was formed. Some say the argument was over taxes, water, sewer, fire protection, and sidewalks. The fight wasn’t over the cemetery. Both municipal “bodies” shared cost of maintenance and upkeep. The plot of land on Foothills served the whole community.
Trying to figure out the truth about the fire is not easy. The District Municipality didn’t have a permanent meeting place until the little brick building was built on Hudson in 1928. Records could have been stored where the meetings were held: over the Palmer Store, in the Bank of Hamilton, in the Agricultural Hall, and in the Exchange Building. Those buildings did not burn prior to 1928. Were the records stored in the basement of the public school that burned down in 1917? No one can say for sure.
Whether or not the records were destroyed in a fire, no one knows for sure who resides in these ten plots at the Mt. Ida Cemetery known as the “Chinese graves.” The sticks rotted away, community memory has been forgotten. Or has it? Contact the Museum at 250-832-5243 if you can help.
Heritage Week is an exciting time for those of us at the Salmon Arm Museum and R.J. Haney Heritage Village. We take our show on the road, marking the week at the Mall at Piccadilly. There are displays, other exhibitors, a silent auction, panning for gold, popcorn, and PIE.
For the last 19 years I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with the pie contest. That is every February, snow or shine. On the Saturday at the end of the week I dress up in my granny clothes with three petticoats, a pair of cotton drawers, a camisole, and appropriate completer garments topped by a hat purchased a few years ago at Crazy River. Everyone who knows me knows I have a hat fetish.
Happily, my role has evolved. I write history pieces for the newspapers leading up to the week, set up displays based on the theme assigned by Heritage BC, and play the 1910 pie contest version of Vanna White on Wheel of Fortune. I hold the pies during the pie auction and an auctioneer provides the patter.
Friend to the Village Bill Laird took the project on again this year. Bill called his business associates and didn’t mince words. He told them to come and be prepared to spend two thousand dollars. When it comes to spending money, Bill doesn’t joke.
This year the patter started out big. Bidders showed they knew the rules. They had been waiting for the best of the Shuswap pies to go on auction. Norm Brown was new to the event. He is the current president of the Rotary Club of Salmon Arm and a volunteer auctioneer roped into donating his time. He didn’t realize how ready his audience was to spend money.
At one point, one of the bidders bid against himself. “You can’t do that,” Norm called out. Our bidder didn’t care. He was on a mission.
At another point Bill Laird and Jim Grieve entered a battle over a pie, increasing in increments too small to please our auctioneer. Norm Brown stepped back from his mike as Bill hollered for Jim to back off because he (Bill) was Shuswap Pie Company’s landlord and its owner, Tovah Shantz, had baked the pie.
But I like Tovah, Jim yelled across the floor, and bid $3,000.
Bill responded asking wasn’t the Pie Company on T.V.? Bill bid $3,200.
Jim, not to be outdone, bid again and secured ownership of Tovah’s strawberry rhubarb pie. It cost him $3,500.
Thanks to a group of very supportive local businesses, fourteen pie bakers, six judges, and Bill Laird we raised $28,000 for Haney Village’s operations and projects. If you do the math, that is an average of $2000 per pie.
Another part of “Pie Day”, the sale of pie by the slice, started with Bill Cooke. Bill was the mall manager in 1996. Bill suggested we have a pie eating contest at a planning meeting. My board didn’t think that was an attractive idea. Instead, we called for donations of pies to be judged for engraved trophies and tickets to Haney Heritage Village’s Villains and Vittles Dinner Theatre. The prizes have changed a little since I charged a dollar a slice for remaining pieces of pie and made $148. Nineteen years ago we called that amount of money a huge success. In 2015 the price of each piece of pie has increased to $2.50 and the sale made a total of $466.45.Some happy customer must have left a tip!
This year the winner of the pie contest was a Granny Smith apple pie submitted by David Howes. I was curious. Not many men have taken first prize over the years. Bert Revel was the pie baker of note who took first place in 1998 and won a few more times over the years.
I thought I needed to know more about this cook, Salmon Arm’s best pie baker of 2015. David was around for a while after the contest. He didn’t seem to mind my questions. He was casually dressed, wearing a dark blue UBC golf shirt. What faculty, I asked? Engineering.
Mmm I thought. We often need engineers when we restore buildings at the Village. I mentally tucked that piece of information away for future reference.
Where do you work? At Newnes, he said.
How long have you lived in Salmon Arm? Since 1986, he said. I was gob stopped, but tried vainly not to show it. David Howes had survived all the cuts and changes to the USNR- Newnes McGehee Division.
What else do you do? He knew Tim Dunne, another engineer. He had played hockey with Tim. I knew I was on to something. This pie baker was also a jock.
I asked if he played a musical instrument. Nope, but all his kids had lessons, he replied. They each completed grade three Royal Conservatory piano before going on to other musical aspirations. He said his kids were involved in musical theatre at SASS too. David knew Haney Heritage Village for its dinner theatre. His family enjoyed being in the audience when the kids’ friends performed.
David told me he had made pies for Christmas gifts. Not easily pigeon holed, this winner was showing he was a complicated man. He has also been added to a “Haney list” of a select group of people. Next year he has the honour of being invited to enter a pie in the Best of the Shuswap Pie Auction.
Thank you all participants. We couldn’t do this successful event without you - bakers, judges, supporters, and eaters – you are all helping us at the Village. See you next year!
This month marks my 25th year with the Salmon Arm Museum. When I look at the photos of what the “R.J. Haney Heritage Village” looked like in 1990, I am reminded of how much the organization and the collections I care for have matured. Just like me!
With the big work done on Haney House, we turned our attention to smaller projects, like draperies. . .
The museum building was constructed over the winter of 1989 and opened in 1990. Norma Harisch was the president at the time. She picked out the carpet. We painted – along with another board member Bobbi Johnson and all of her kids – the entire first floor.
Exhibits were installed and borrowed from the Royal BC Museum. In the early days there were no cabinets, just tables. Exhibits felt a little flat. The old museum downtown had to be emptied so that we could move “museum stuff” to the Park. The museum’s basement floor had to be sealed, the shelving assembled and or built. The manager’s brother moved the collection. It was hot and we worked hard.
To get people to attend the first gala event on June 17, 1990, we offered free hot dogs to visitors. There was a line up a mile long to get into the place. A barbershop quartet -Terry Greenough, Les Ellenor, Tom Brighouse, and Dave Woolliams provided appropriate musical entertainment. The Minister of Tourism and MLA for the riding, Cliff Michael, Mayor Dick Smith, and Ev Sonne cut the ribbon.
Our Museum building was tarted up without any planted sod or gardens to soften its edges. We used metallic ribbons and balloons for decorations, and borrowed a crossing station sign. A piper, Jim Wright, gathered those that braved the heat to walk through the nature trails, and we thought we had a crowd!
The Mt. Ida Methodist Church and Broadview School were relocated in January of 1988 and were worked on over the next two years. The fire department volunteers built a fire hall which opened in 1991. We poured a foundation for the Newnes Blacksmith Shop and Salmon Arm Observer. We built the Blacksmith Shop in 1993 and thought about the print shop. The foundation wasn’t big enough. We thought some more. Along came the offer to acquire the Beemish Collection. A Federally-funded Job Creation Project crew built the building on the vacant foundation in 2002 and the Cobweb Corners exhibit opened 2005. That same year, Queest Tower opened, a legacy left by staff who had worked at the local Forestry Service Office in Salmon Arm.
In 2005 we turned our gaze inwards and reviewed the operating function of the Museum building: the gallery, offices, archives, and collection storage. After the study, a new reception area was built in the gift shop area. The redesign was modeled after a Bank of Hamilton photograph, Salmon Arm’s first bank. Then the Manager’s office was reconfigured and new work stations installed. After more fund raising, we expanded the archives, purchased rolling shelving and continued to dream about overhauling the collection storage in the basement.
In the meantime other things were happening at the Village...
After attending a dinner theatre on a trip to Indianapolis in 1994, Doug Adams got the bright idea to hold dinner theatre at the park. He thought the idea could work well for us at “Haney”. It started off small, with only a bench. Natalie Roberts and Mike Zobac were our student actors that year. Violating copyright law, they performed skits that were not in the public domain. Seven people attended their first show. The play was a silent production, but Natalie’s face said it all! The actors used a park bench as the set and the audience was required to imagine the props. Supper was stew and a biscuit with Mary McTaggart’s recipe for rhubarb crisp. A year later, Dave Harper wrote a play called the Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter. Today, dinner theatre plays are professionally written and copyrighted and attract a large number of appreciative visitors to our “Village”. The rhubarb crisp remains a perennial favourite.
In 1998 the little log filling station was moved, in pieces, to the park . The Shuswap Chapter of the Vintage Car Club of Canada reconstructed the building after bringing it from its second home as the Richards’ cabin on Paradise Point. Then the members of the Car Club got the idea to build a representation of the Lester and Thomson garage…..completing it in 2007. The space was an attractive place to show quilts for special events . Then it began to be filled with collections that were evicted from other storage places. While it took a few years to fundraise for the garage exhibit, 2013 saw the completion and opening of the new display.
In the mean time, the Pidhirney House was moved to the site from Fraser Ave. NW in 2008. Gary Cruikshank spearheaded that project. With Gary in charge again, the Laitinen log house, minus the trees in front of it, was moved from North Broadview, two years later.
The Chinese Cook’s shack moved from its “temporary” 20-plus year home at the parking lot to the site chosen for the amphitheatre. The Cook’s shack filled up again with windows, doors, and artefacts. Then the artefacts, windows and doors were moved to a clean, new space. You guessed it- the Lester and Thomson Garage! Funds were secured to build a stage and seating for 142 and Haney Presents SASCU Dinner
Theatre opened in a newly constructed amphitheatre in that space in 2012. The Cook’s Shack was repurposed as a dressing room and also provided a secure location for the new lighting and state of the art sound system controls.
The Salmon Valley Homestead was another project. It sat “temporarily” for decades up at the parking lot and was affectionately referred to as the Kew Homestead that came from Minion Field. We emptied that building in 2013 and moved the little log home to its permanent location behind the Mt. Ida Church the next year. The Peterson barn, sitting as a pile of logs, was rebuilt nearby to keep the cabin company.
Over the years we have tried to be many things. When I started in 1990 we called ourselves a “village” even though we had no stores. False advertising and an expert marketer made us realize we should call ourselves a park to embrace what we really were - almost 40 acres of agricultural land. By 1991 we started calling ourselves a park and were content to use that name. No matter how hard we tried to rebrand, we couldn’t seem to shake the term “Haney House”. We decided to have a strategic plan with public input in 2004. We did a review in 2007, were pleased with the results, and still called ourselves a park. By 2007 we saw the error of our ways. The park had been open since 1988 and new marketers decided we’d come of age….we were a Village again!
Feeling like a parent with more than a few grey hairs, I have to ask myself, “When did the site grow up?”
R.J. Haney Heritage Village as a site is on a cusp. It is becoming real enough to market as an authentic heritage village and I am so proud!
Looking to the future, plans have been secured for the new Montebello Building, a building that will satisfy the need for commercial exhibits. A well documented business section- home to a general store, post office, barbershop, realty office, pool hall, photography studio, print shop, butcher shop, and milliner and dress shop will help to complete the main street and the story we have to tell and share.
Late in the afternoon on May 6th a restored 1929 Plymouth coupe was delivered to R.J. Haney Heritage Village. Central Towing's flatbed drove the car up to the Lester and Thomson Garage. The car, once owned by pharmacist Albert Bedford, was being installed as an exhibition for the summer.
Three Shirley brothers, Jim, Brad, and Greg had an appointment at the garage but they decided to bring the family's mechanic. That was Jim, who also supplied the flatbed. The brothers were delivering a car restored by their Dad, the late Pat Shirley.
The siblings unloaded the vehicle and pushed it in, front first, to accommodate this curator's layout plan. There were other cars in for service. A Model T Doctor's coupe was having its front tire changed. The McLaughlin, originally purchased by Billy Reader, was having the brakes serviced. The Plymouth was gently pushed into the last remaining bay. Lester and Thomson would have been pleased. Their mechanics, W.W. Golley and Alf Russell were going to be busy.
The Shirley "boys" brought along a chamois and pail. They'd planned to wash their Dad's car. There was some kidding because there was only one chamois. It seemed like Brad did most of the washing.
The car was secured and Brad brought out his smart phone. It was time for a photo! Jim, Brad, Greg posed in front of their Dad's car. It was a nice way to end the day.
"I can't think of a nicer place to have the Plymouth," Brad said, "than at Haney Heritage Village."
Pat Shirley was a member of the Shuswap Chapter of the Vintage Car Club and a big push behind both the construction of the Lester and Thomson garage and the firehall.
Susan Mackie, General Manager, recounted a story about Pat Shirley's last visit to the Village. It was last August on the day the McLaughlin was being donated. Donor Al Chambers was making a generous gift to the Village because the car was originally sold by Lester and Thomson. Pat, a retired mechanic and Fire Chief, sat in one of the garage chairs during the installation. He was comfortable. He was in a pub chair that had survived the Montebello fire. He knew the McLaughlin and its first owner.
"Bring me a beer," Pat had called out, hoping someone would listen! Hopefully someone did.
Spring is an exciting time of year because it means a brand new story at the Salmon Arm Museum’s gallery. This year we created The train stopped here. The exhibit features stories about the CPR and its impact on Salmon Arm.
An exhibit can be inspired by one item, event, or person. The theme for the exhibit was formulated last fall, though the idea had been percolating for some time. In 2013 Salmon Arm’s “new” CPR station turned 100 and was placed on the Heritage Register. To be truthful, the event was not news to “us” in the curatorial department. We’d been thinking about it since 2010 as one of the stories that had to be told.
So I wrote about the impending exhibit in an application for funding last September. I told the B.C. Arts Council what I planned to do.
What I didn’t tell the funder is that exhibit planning tends to be organic in nature. I start out with many ideas about what I want to do and then go about figuring out how I can make my plan work. Sometimes ideas expand. Sometimes they have to be reined in. New opportunities come up, outside of the plan. I’ve learned to be flexible.
I wanted to use settlers’ effects to show what people did in Salmon Arm. By 1914 the community shipped apples, butter, milk, eggs, and lumber. The CPR was also in the business of shipping people. The volunteers and I carried up trunks, smaller luggage, and a picnic basket from the basement. The women in the archives made baggage tags using real people from Salmon Arm’s history with real destinations that they travelled to.
The best part of that exhibit was finding a record of a special event that took place in another town accessed on the CPR. It was to be an exhibit feature. The trip had to originate from or finish at the ‘new’ station that opened in November 1913.
Volunteer Rosemary Wilson looked through the microfilmed newspapers. The story of a city hospital birth would fit. Where? Kamloops or Revelstoke? Revelstoke was a teaching hospital. Oh, and by the way, I told Rosemary, it would be best if the story involved a baby boy because we had a blue knitted sweater in the museum collection.
Rosemary came through. She found Maude Hyatt. Miss Hyatt was a school teacher from Revelstoke who married Dr. Thomas McPherson in 1913. He’d been doing a locum in Revelstoke and bought Dr. Reinhard’s practice in Salmon Arm.
A year after the station opened, Maude delivered a baby boy. Cathy English, curator at the Revelstoke City Museum concurred that Maude likely had her best friend’s husband, Dr. Sutherland, as her physician. After the birth she probably stayed a while with her parents, who were Revelstoke residents. Those are two likelys, but I couldn’t use those details in my story.
A single suitcase lies open on the railway bench in the exhibit. The rest are closed. The tag says Revelstoke. The owner is Mrs. McPherson. In the case lie toiletries, night gown and pantaloons, a mirror, hair brush, curling iron, and some lovely baby’s clothing
Taking curatorial liberties I drafted a letter to be posted to Mr. and Mrs. A.J. McPherson of Stratford, Ontario, the new grandparents. Another volunteer Leona Orchard scripted the letter in left slanted handwriting. I couldn’t do it. My attempt looked too much like the MacLean’s Method of Muscular Handwriting I’d been taught as a child. It was all wrong for the period because Principal MacLean didn’t invent the method until 1921. Leona did a great job and I photocopied Leona’s letter onto some off white paper, tucking it into the pocket of the case.
To my delight visitors regularly pick up the letter and read it and carefully place it back into the case. The facts in the letter are based on a true story and visitors are engaged. One tourist thanked me. She said the letter made the exhibit come alive for her.
 The royal “we” is used quite often in the Curator’s office. We refers to one curator and gets many laughs from my eight very wonderful volunteers. In this case the royal “we” are using the royal “us.” Apologies to Grammarians in the readership.
From our critics:
"This exhibit is fabulous. You've really outdone yourself. I can't wait to see how you will top this one next year."
One of the things I think about when creating any new exhibit is the current museum vogue for risk taking. Creating connections to today’s visitors and today’s world is what museum professionals aim for. Sometimes that aim tackles uncomfortable topics. That’s one type of risk taking.
Planning for the CPR exhibit The train stopped here felt like it came the heels of the disaster at Lac-Mégantic. It was a different railway line, a different province, and a smaller population, but there were connections. The communities share a similar geography with a beautiful lake and a heavy reliance on tourism.
Forty-eight people died when that train derailed. The town was devastated. Cleanup is expected to take five years. Luckily for those of us who live in Salmon Arm, there’s never been a derailment of that magnitude in the Shuswap.
But derailments on a lesser scales happen regularly. This year there was one on a line Salmon Arm shares with the City of Revelstoke, our neighbour to the east. If you check Transportation Safety Board of Canada statistics there have been 116 “occurrences” in the Shuswap subdivision since 2004. Occurrences are categorized as either accidents or incidents and divided into types. Of the 116, 35 were derailments, 23 involved trespassers, 17 were either main track train derailments or main track collisions, five involved fires, and 22 involved movement exceeding limits of authority.1.
The Salmon Arm Museum’s exhibit explores a significant derailment that happened in 2001 west of Salmon Arm. It was documented by the Salmon Arm Observer and James Murray’s photographs are in the Museum’s archives. 2000 litres of diesel made its way into Shuswap Lake. Luckily the fish weren’t active in the area. No one was hurt. CP Rail and local fire departments responded quickly. Cleanup ensued.
This year CPR spokesman MikeLoVecchio met with the regional government the Columbia Shuswap Regional District. He made five points:2.
1. Trains are longer now
2. At least 30 trains pass through Salmon Arm every day
3. CP Rail has an obligation to move commodities,
including dangerous goods
4. Crude oil is one of the more dangerous commodities
but not a lot of it moves through this region
5. Hydrocarbon liquids, propane, and chlorine do travel through the region on rail
LoVecchio put some of the responsibility for having these commodities pass through our community back on us as consumers. He said, “At the end of the day, these are the products you, as communities, use.”
“Society is using it and we are moving it, and under the Railway Safety Act, we are obliged to move it safely.
2. Barb Brouwer, Salmon Arm Observer. March 26, 2015. http://www.saobserver.net/news/297594861.html
Train derailment photos courtesy Salmon Arm Observer.
July has been an extraordinarily busy month. Just after President Norma Harisch signed the contract for a new exhibit with the Virtual Museum of Canada, we completed the first of many “deliverables” for the project.
The exhibit is called Flight from the Flames and is a photographic record of the Silver Creek fire of 1998. The project is based on Salmon Arm Observer images and also features the stories of the many people who experienced the forest fire and subsequent evacuation. It will be artefact-less and only available online.
We’ve had great help with the exhibit. Brent Chudiak’s Salmon Arm Secondary digital media class scanned the photographs before the end of the school year. They did a super job, each student taking on a few images.
Then, very fortunately, Ryon Ready volunteered to work in the archives. Ryon is a university student with local roots and happens to be keenly interested in archaeology, languages, and the Salmon Arm Museum’s archives. He will be studying at Memorial University in Newfoundland in September, but in the meantime will help with this new venture over the summer. In his grandfather’s approving words, “The project is productive screen time.”
Ryon’s first task - to figure out how to use the software needed to upload the virtual exhibit – was completed without the guide, which didn’t arrive until three weeks after he started on the project. He matched the scanned photographs to newspaper issues. Then Ryon gleaned the newspaper’s cut lines that described the images. After that, he transcribed the 8 hours of CKXR’s radio coverage.
Ryon has also “filmed” videos of Retired Brigadier General Peter Kilby, Retired Staff Sergeant Barry Tarr, and Retired Fire Chief Ken Tebo describing their memories of the fire and evacuation. Ryon will edit over two hours of recordings into less than twelve minutes and then transcribe the interviews for closed captioning.
Ryon will upload all the digital assets to YouTube and link the files to the exhibit. He will enter the stories we have gathered and the exhibit text needed to fill in the details. Then Ryon will add the closed captions in French and English. Admittedly Ryon’s French is pretty good, but to secure the project, we needed a Francophone to make sure the translated text met national museum standards. Luckily, the funder approved local resident Lise Ouimet to do the translation.
I’m very hopeful Ryon will accomplish great things in the next three weeks. If he doesn’t, I won’t give up. I know he is just a click of a mouse away. Hopefully he’ll take my “calls”.
Thank you Ryon. Best of luck with your studies next year!
Doilies, doilies and more doilies. Working as the curator’s apprentice this summer at R.J. Haney Heritage Village was quite the learning experience. First off I never knew how many doilies could fit in a 2000 square foot room, but I soon learned.
The Curatorial Department had a lovely donation from The Shuswap Quilter’s Guild to conserve the textiles this summer and that was why I was hired. I was required to collect all of the textiles, sort them with their own kind and colours, roll (or fold) them properly, and place them in an acid-free box with a lovely label. Simple enough, but believe it or not the most difficult part was finding all of the textiles in the basement. I ended up playing a giant game of hide and seek the whole summer and pretty much organized the majority of the collection trying to locate anything that was even remotely close to fabric.
I was privileged to be able to work with some amazing people who helped me a ton in my endeavor. Surprisingly enough most of them were volunteering their time, but they worked as if they were getting paid (don’t worry their union is doubling their wage soon). Even some of the actors managed to lend me a hand when they weren’t singing and dancing on stage. Deborah herself was a huge help by moving artifacts with me, explaining what certain strange objects were, and teaching me the ways of the archives. The extent of knowledge the curator has is quite amazing.
The job was not without its fun, for some reason I was entrusted with driving the golf cart and truck to transport artifacts to better locations. I organized the prettiest hats ever; people back then had quite good taste when it came to accessories (although their household accessories are questionable). And I even got to play with chain saws, scythes, and chocolate covered poisons.
I am kicking myself for not taking before and after photos. The archives are beautiful now that we spent the summer giving it tender loving care. I almost wish I could be here for another month to complete the project; however, I know my colleagues will take splendid care maintaining the collection. We are a small museum, but we still manage to preserve our artifacts with the similar diligence of a larger organization.
Thank you Haney for an engaging summer, your stories, your people and your Rocky Road squares made the job very worthwhile.
A mystery wedding dress is hanging in the museum’s clothing collection at R.J. Haney Heritage Village. It is off white, with a high neck and an empire waist. The lace gown was donated by the Nancollas family more than a decade ago. It came with a history that raised many tantalizing unanswered questions.
The wedding dress was in a hope chest sold at the Nancollas auction house in Salmon Arm. Victor Nancollas’ business was on Front Street in the Merchant’s Block. The decade was the nineteen forties. The original owner of the dress was Elvira Stirling and the story goes that the bride-to-be was jilted. Was he a soldier that never returned from War? Or did he marry someone else?
Miss Mary Elvira Nina Stirling was born in Kingston, Ontario in 1886. At the age of 14 she moved to England with her parents, returning for a visit in 1906 to see relatives in Toronto. She met and fell in love with explorer, author and lecturer Grant Carveth Wells. When her younger sister, Luard made a play for Wells, Elvira (Vira) was heartbroken. Vira returned to England and Luard married Carveth.
A few years later, Salmon Arm real estate was booming and Vira’s father, C.J.R. Stirling bought a “ranche” near McGuire Lake in 1910. The family was reunited in 1913. By all accounts Vira lived at home with her parents, never married, and packed apples for extra money at the Salmon Arm Farmers’ Exchange.
When Vira passed way in 1980 there was no mention of any excitement in the spinster’s life. She was remembered as a tall thin woman who sang solos in the United Church Choir with Margery Murchison on organ and Muriel Ingle on piano. Her obituary ends with, “No flowers please, by request of the family.”
But just a little searching through archival material at the Salmon Arm Museum helped fill in some of the gaps. Vira was complicated woman.
In 1914, Vira opened a tearoom on Alexander with her friend Mrs. Simm on Alexander calling the business a Sprig of Heather. It was a popular place for lunches. In 1917 she dabbled in Theosophy, a philosophy or religious thought based on a mystical insight. When Charles Lazenby lectured on a stopover in Salmon Arm, Vira was there to be photographed with the scholar. When a local chapter of the Theosophy Society was formed, Vira was named president.
A year later Vira enrolled in nursing school in Victoria, graduating with the highest marks in the province in 1922. But in spite of taking the honours, she never entered the profession. She did not agree with the doctors on patient care.
Late in the summer of 1937, Vira became interested in Dr. Norman Bethune and his international work. She wanted to go join Bethune’s efforts in Spain and wrote to him of her nursing experience, travels, and knowledge of languages. She told him that she belonged to the Friends of Mac-Paps, a group that aided the new democratic Spanish republic against Franco, and the Women’s League Against War and Fascism. Vira was not afraid of taking a stand.
When Bethune made a stop in Salmon Arm at Vira’s invitation, people came from as far as Vernon to hear him speak. The night was hot. There was standing room only in the hall. Loudspeakers took Bethune’s message to the crowds outside. Later, at the Stirling home, Bethune told Vira that he was giving up his work in Spain. Franco had too many allies. He had heard that the Japanese had invaded China and decided to make China his next destination.
For reasons unexplained, Vira remained behind in Salmon Arm. World War II broke out and, back at home, the senior Stirlings passed away. With her parents gone, Vira moved to Kallio’s rooming house on Harris Street.
The bits and pieces of information gleaned from the Salmon Arm Observer and other archival sources are fragments. They do not tell us why Vira’s wedding dress ended up in a trunk filled with personal effects at auction.
It seems that Victor Nancollas brought the gown home as a gift for his girls’ dress-up box. It was an out-of-fashion, never worn wedding dress sewn more than 30 years previously but it had great potential for dress-up drama.
Joan Nancollas and her good friends Pat Drummond and Doreen Ackeroyd performed many mock wedding ceremonies with the younger Nancollas siblings as ring-bearers. All players wanted to be the bride!
Eventually, out of respect for the bride who never got to wear the dress, Jennie Nancollas took the gown out of the dress-up box and, by happenstance, preserved it for the museum.
1. Studio portrait of Vira in 1902
2. A Sprig of Heather tearoom in 1902, first building on the right. Rex Lingford, Photographer, 1914
3. Charles Lazenby on a stop in Salmon Arm. Vira and friends gather.
Photographer unknown, 1917
4. Vira Stirling back row, second from the left, holding her playing card in the chorus of the production Gay Paree.
HJ Perrier, Photographer.
This year I had to admit it publicly that I have been working for the Salmon Arm Museum for 25 years. When I started I had cataloging experience thanks to the Fraser Fort George Museum in Prince George, research experience in the archaeology department of the Nova Scotia Provincial Museum, and care of collections from university days. I had no experience cleaning public bathrooms.
The Salmon Arm Museum’s bathrooms were new and not too hard to clean. There were no stains. We had three toilets and one outhouse. During the summer months I had help from staff hired on government programs. I made it a policy. I did not ask anyone to do anything that I didn't do. I always took a turn with the bathrooms.
I haven't been doing bathrooms for about 20 years. When Staff numbers increased that part of my duties disappeared from my job description. I didn't worry one bit.
This fall General Manager Susan Mackie came to me. She knew another winter was approaching. She brought up the subject of toilets. Over the years Susan has been working four days a week through the winter and I had been working three. I had not noticed the bathrooms were clean. Actually I hadn't noticed the bathrooms were ever very dirty. Susan told me that was because she cleaned them on Fridays. We both knew I didn't work Fridays.
I thought about it overnight and told her I would do bathroom duty if I could write about my history with the museum toilets in a blog. She said it was OK as long as I mentioned that she'd been cleaning them for the last few years. Of course I was going to be fair in my interpretation of the story. Modern curators don’t clean up historical records.
Haney's toilet account has grown since I began working at Haney Village. There's one at Haney house, four toilets and one urinal in the museum, and one enduring outhouse.
The Village has also grown over the years. We have pulled in two residences that also need outhouses behind them. So far that hasn’t happened, but I do I hope they are built someday. I’ve told my board that they don't have to function. The school also needs a two-hole outhouse near it. Lucky for me, there has been no mention of building new outhouses this winter. Besides, I only promised to clean the indoor toilets.
The growing toilet count has me concerned. The way the Fund Development Committee is working, the Montebello project will be built by 2017. It will have another six new toilets (and one urinal). There are plans to increase days of operation too.
This is where the historical record comes into play. We have been operating three days a week through the winter for decades. Usually it is Susan and I and a lot of volunteers working in the museum and archives. Next year, Museum Past President and Director of the Montebello Project Doug Adams says we will be open four days a week. His goal for 2017 is to be open five days a week, year round.
My question is - who's going to do all those toilets? You can bet Susan and I will be arm wrestling. We both work out and I don't intend to lose.
Outhouse image credit:
These are exciting times at R.J. Haney Heritage Village. On the first Wednesday of this month Susan Mackie, the General Manager decided to throw a party. She drew up a guest list and invited everyone she knew that was involved with the Montebello Project. There was going to be a ground breaking.
It didn’t matter that there were four inches of new snow blanketing the Village. Marjorie’s Tea Room was warm and ready. The volunteers had baked cookies. Susan plugged in the coffee and put the creamers in their bowl.
She also asked Fred Emerzael of Little Projects to bring his biggest shovel, a Cat excavator.
The ceremony wasn’t lengthy. All the speakers knew people would rather be indoors. President Norma Harisch spoke about the history of the project. Retired CA and Museum Director for the Project, Doug Adams, talked about community support and money, MLA Greg Kyllo promised his support, and then Salmon Arm’s Mayor Nancy Cooper broke everyone into smiles. Haney could ask for anything, she said, and she’d try her best to help. “Harry and I got married at that little church,” she added pointing to the Mt. Ida Methodist Church down the street.
Museum Advisory Committee Member Bill Laird spoke last. As he pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket, Bill commented that the professional speakers at this ground breaking were different from the amateurs like him. They didn’t rely on notes. Bill’s speech was typical of him. Brief, to the point, and punctuated with humour. Then Bill introduced the project contractor Rick Semenzin. Rick wears a blue hard hat and will be the go-to guy for the project. Rick will supervise the project from the foundation up.
The groundbreaking event was all about connections, community, and belief in a dream that began in 1998. It’s been a long process of planning. Over time the vision has been modified to best suit the needs of the site, community, visitors, and the Museum Association. Now, with over $860,000 committed from local businesses, organizations, local government, and, most importantly, the people of Salmon Arm, it looks like Fred’s big shovel can start digging.
Photo credits: Janet Hanna and Rex Lingford
In winter R.J. Haney Heritage Village is a perfect place to be. The road is sanded. We have a team of 8 dedicated volunteers in the archives who come in to work. Researchers come armed with questions about relatives, buildings, etc. The place is busy. It is the time when the real work behind constructing exhibits gets done. We catch up on thank you letters, write applications for funding, and relish in the quiet beauty of the park setting in winter. We talk about cross country skiing on the farmland, but it is only talk. We do what we really like doing, working with collections in the archives.
One project some of the volunteers are working on is indexing the two Revelstoke Newspapers for Salmon Arm entries. The Revelstoke Herald and Kootenay Mail are online, thanks to a digitized newspaper project at UBC.1. The newspapers are all no longer in print. The Salmon Arm references come up quickly, but have to be sorted.
The Kootenay Mail has 125 references to Salmon Arm. The Revelstoke Herald has 224 references. When those are entered into our database, one volunteer will move on to the Enderby Press and Walker’s Weekly with a combined 476 references. Then it is on to the Nicola Valley Press with its 60 Salmon Arm references. When you add all the entries up, all these newspapers paint a picture of what was happening in our community from the view of outsiders, reporting to another community. The big advantage to collecting this information is that reporting was done before the Salmon Arm Observer began printing its weekly news.
There are gems hidden in these accounts. People visited back and forth. Gossip was recorded. A doctor, A.H. Simpson who lived in Revelstoke with his wife and child, relocated to our community and built a house just outside of the Raven area. According to the Kootenay Mail, he had patients that recovered nicely. Then the Doctor he bought a fine gasoline launch – likely his transportation to town as Lakeshore Rd. wasn’t pushed through until the 1930s. When Dr. Simpson died unexpectedly in 1905, the event also made the Revelstoke news. Simpson was a relatively young man, only 37. More than a hundred years later, the date of the Doctor’s death helps identify the age of the house he had built on what locals used to call Edwardes Point, named George H. Edwardes for Mrs. Simpson’s second husband.2.
When John Dolan was having a house built in the Valley in 1908, he used an Enderby contractor J.S. Johnstone. We know the two story structure had twenty-four hundred blocks to build, which took seven weeks to cast and lay. The Dolan house still stands today.
Then there's the Rex Lingford photography studio. The archives has a few Lingford images of scenes and portraits of people taken out-of-doors that is clearly Enderby. Why? I knew he had a studio, but when? Were there better business opportunities in the bigger city to the south?
Enderby's Walker's Weekly filled in some of the blanks. Lingford opened a second studio May 22, 1911. He'd been working in Salmon Arm and occasionally making trips to Enderby. On May 18 he announced that he was occupying a studio near the bridge. He continues advertising until August 28, 1913. The wonderful thing is that our Enderby images now make sense, make sense in the Lingford collection, and, from an archival perspective, belong at the Salmon Arm Museum’s archives at R.J. Haney Heritage Village. That’s a nice feeling in itself.
So all winter long a dedicated group of volunteers will be indexing newspapers from neighbouring communities for Salmon Arm connections. The crew are making such a difference to the work we do!
Rex Lingford, Photographer
Pictured here is the prettiest sternwheeler to serve Salmon Arm was the SS Andover, built in Kamloops by Maritime ship builders Captain George Ward and his sons Elmer and Arthur in 1908. The boat was christened the SS Silver Stream but renamed the SS Andover shortly afterwards. Ward didn’t realize the name was spoken for and another vessel in the British ship registry already bore the name.
Armed with a government subsidy of $1,500, Ward remodelled his steamship for the tourist trade a year later. The state room accommodated sixteen people with meals served from a galley kitchen on board. Beginning May 26, 1909 service from Kamloops to Sicamous was thrice weekly with an overnight stop in Salmon Arm.
Salmon Arm’s wharf channel was dredged and the future looked bright for water travel. Captain Ward was confident that excursions would appeal to hundreds of tourists during the summer months. He set his prices accordingly. In 1910 the excursion rates were a dollar for adults and half price for children
Luckily, a young photographer also arrived on the scene in Salmon Arm in 1909. Rex Lingford took this photograph as the SS Andover rounded Marble Point on Shuswap Lake.
This winter volunteers in the archives room found an intriguing letter published in Revelstoke’s Kootenay Mail. The author commented on the desperate bachelors of Salmon Arm. It appeared that single ladies in the Salmon Valley were short in supply.
The shortage was first referenced in an advertisement republished in Ernie Doe’s Centennial History of Salmon Arm. On November 18, 1893 the Salmon Arm bachelors placed an ad in the Kamloops newspaper, The Inland Sentinel
“Wanted – 27 marriageable young ladies to pay a visit to the Arm. None need apply who do not want to take a rancher."
In the February 9th, 1894 edition of the same newspaper, the story continued:
Mr. F.W. McGregor, of Fairview ranch, Salmon Arm, late of the SENTINEL staff, is erecting a handsome residence. Mr. McGregor intends to take unto himself a wife. It is pleasing to know that the advertisement issued in the SENTINEL a short time back is producing such fruit. And still there’s more to follow…."
The same issue in the Salmon Arm Notes section announced:
"Mr. Fred McGregor has finished his house. On Friday last he organised a bee and raised the building. A bee in this valley is not accompanied with whiskey, but repartee and wit are never lacking."
When I checked the BC Archives and Records Service Genealogy webpage I found bachelor Frederick W. McGregor, 27 years old, married spinster Elizabeth Savage, 25, in Kamloops on February 6th, days before the Sentinel went to press.
It turned out that the Sentinel editors were wrong. The advertisement wasn’t a resounding success. The valley was still short of single women. On February 6th, 1895, Annie Gordon wrote her sister Jessie McQueen in Nova Scotia:
"The Valley has gone mad over dancing. There are dances at McGuire's, Dolan's, and Bolton's every few days. The last one at Dolan's, Jack Savage dressed up in one of my old dresses, coat, hat and veil, went over and fooled the crowd. Tom Noble in particular, Tom was edging up to him at a great rate, under the impression [Jack] was a girl, and was overwhelmed when the truth came out. I hear that Tom hasn't showed out since, for everyone is laying for him.”
Then Salmon Arm bachelors took matters into their own hands once again and wrote the Montreal Star hoping to appeal to a wider audience. I haven’t been able to find the reference, but a rebuttal was published in Revelstoke’s Kootenay Mail on April 4, 1896. It was called “A Bachelor’s Lament”.
“Some time ago there was a reference in these columns to the ‘unfortunate’ condition of the bachelors in the neighborhood of Salmon Arm who, in their desperation, had written a Montreal newspaper with a view of attracting the attention of eastern girl[s] to their forlorn condition in the hope that the interest thus awakened would result in inducing [them] to become the partner of their earthly joys and sorrow.
But the matter is not to rest here, [the editor wrote] the latest contribution is from ‘A British Columbia Girl.’ She writes to the Montreal Star ‘to disabuse the impression likely to be made of letters from British Columbia farmers that there are no girls in this province.
She says: ‘I could tell a B.C. Farmer of at least a dozen girls with whom I am acquainted, who would make excellent wives for B.C. farmers, or any other men – girls who are true and pure and good: and I have no doubt there are many more in this province.
Our girls may be more independent, and not as inclined to settle down as their sisters in the East, but if the B.C. farmer is as worthy as most B.C. girls I know, I can certainly advise a Nova Scotia Farmer’s Daughter to come out here and make a home for some poor, desolate bachelor. I do not know any farmers here, so I had no idea that the poor fellows [existed] under anything but pleasant circumstances until their letters [came] forward to prove the contrary. A Bachelor’s Lament is pathetic enough to make one’s heart ache over the woes it so touchingly [describes]. I never realized before that single blessedness may not always be perfectly satisfactory. I offer a B.C. Farmer my deep sympathy, and, while wishing him every success in his efforts to win some nice Eastern girl to share his lot, would remind him that the B.C. girls are as competent to manage a home, and as worthy of honor as any that can be found anywhere in the world.
Even with the objections noted by the B.C. Girl, it appears the bachelors' advertisement wasn’t entirely successful, evidenced by the marriage and birth rates in the valley. 1890 saw no recorded births. In 1891, the Harris family had a set of twins. In 1894, four births were recorded and by 1900 the annual birth rate increased to six.Salmon Arm’s first recorded marriages took place over the winter of 1899. Joseph Robe and Anna Myers were married in November and Henry Scaddan and Annie Erskine wed in December. According to the B.C. Archives and Records service, neither couple had children. Perhaps more strategic advertising was in order.
 Inland Sentinel, February 9, 1894.
 Letters from Annie Gordon to Jessie McQueen, 6 February 1895, Salmon Arm
Susan Mackie, photographer
The Heritage Week Pie Auction at the Mall at Piccadilly is a major fundraiser for the R.J. Haney Heritage Village. This year was a record breaker. Seventeen pies generated over $23,000.
The auction pies were in a category all their own, the "Best of the Shuswap". All entries were made by winners from past years' contests and each pie promised to be melt-in-your-mouth good.
For the last four years I’ve had the pleasure of being the “Vanna White” of Haney Heritage Village. I parade the pies on a stage wearing my 1911 reproduction costume that includes two petticoats, one pair of bloomers, and a camisole as the foundation garments. It was made from scratch, just like the pies we auction.
Jerry Seppala was the auctioneer and his patter was rhythmic and ensured we got the best price for each pie. This year he outdid himself.
General Manager Susan Mackie got busy a month before soliciting pies from past winners. She organized the week, along with everything that had the potential to make money. She also dressed in period clothes as part of the celebration. There were a few of us. We wore muted colours, big hats, and boots that should be outlawed.
Business owner, and friend to Haney, Bill Laird helped line up bidders from his contacts in the business community. He checked his list of usual suspects and made the calls. Bill didn’t beat around the bush. He gave them the date of the auction, told them to show up, and advised the newbies on his list quite bluntly to bring their cheque books and be prepared to spend $2,000.
Bill knew from experience that he had to brief his candidates. In 2013, BDO’s John White showed up and was surprised. He was from the city, new to the community, and didn’t realize what league this contest was in. This year John came prepared. He also brought his business partner, Jeff Johnson.
The bidding started off friendly and, from the stage, I saw the group’s dynamics unfold. Bobbi Johnson set the tone. She has been known to outbid her grandson, son, and husband. Other husbands began to bid against their wives. Business partners bid against each other. It was unscripted entertainment that felt natural and caused a lot of laughter.
The laughs always seem to come with the event. In 2011 yours truly was tilting a homemade berry pie. It was made with handpicked wild blackberries from northern Ontario. The pie baker, Irene Campbell, was the announcer. She’d had a tea house on the North Shore of Shuswap Lake and had won the pie baking contest several years running.
Irene handed her pie to me so she could talk about it. She promised it would be delicious. Her pies were tender and made from the highest quality ingredients.
As the auction began I tilted the pie slightly for bidders to get a good look at the lattice work on the upper crust. As I did, the pie moved in its dish. I stopped breathing. I realized there were no juices on the bottom crust to hold it in place. Within milliseconds, the pie slid halfway out of the plate. I leveled the pan. Then the unheard of happened. The pie was so tender it broke in half and a mess of berries, sugar, and baked pie crust hit the floor. I was horrified.
Jerry, the auctioneer, put aside his mike and asked me, “What do we do now?”
I smiled as Susan laughed from the audience. “Sell the other half,” I said.
Partway through the bidding, realtor Jim Grieve stopped the bidding when he walked over and asked if he could look at the pie. He peered at the half pie and asked for a taste. Someone called out from the audience that the pie on the floor hadn’t been there for ten seconds – implying it was safe to eat.
Jerry continued with his lyrical way of extracting money. He managed to close the bid at $750 for half a pie! The pie still in its plate, that is.
Lynda Stepura, photographer
Thanks to Mall at Piccadilly's Marketing Director Lynda Stepura for her photographs of Susan and Irene at the pie table and Irene handing me the pie.
When my grandchildren took me through the cat museum they had built in their basement, I was intrigued. Two seven year old curators exploring a creative process that imitated something I’d been doing for twenty-four years. I asked pointed questions.
“Yes,” Morgan replied.
When I looked for the labels, I soon realized that the exhibit wasn’t about cats—it was a facility for cat patrons.
I also realized how much the language of engagement has evolved since I created my first exhibit at R.J. Haney Heritage Village in 1990. The girls’ enthusiasm reminded me of the excitement I felt when my exhibit opened last spring. The two smiled widely. I could see their sense of achievement.
The sisters had fashioned a gathering place for cats. It was simply several contiguous rooms made from a variety of recycled cardboard boxes with entrances and exits to accommodate their pets, Cleo and Rolly.
“Is it an art museum?” I asked, noting the cat statue outside the building.
“Yes,” was the chimed response.
It wasn’t obvious to this homo sapien viewer. I was glad that I got that one right.
“Who came up with the idea?” I asked the twins.
“Jasmine did,” said Morgan.
“No you did Morgan,” said Jasmine, pointing out that no one really could claim sole inspiration for the project. My curators were a team.
Right away I noticed that the exhibition rooms were dark. How were Cleo and Rolly going to be encouraged to enter? Lighting was essential to the invitation to engage. Aha! They had cat vision to rely on!
I wondered about the storyline. What was the message? Was the exhibit a reflection of a time and place? And would Cleo and Rolly be changed when they wandered through the space?
“Is this a permanent exhibit?” I enquired.
“Yes,” the girls responded. Obviously there was a significant investment of time and expertise. Permanent, in museum language, is ten years.
I asked the young curators whether or not this museum would be open to the public, as in to the neighbourhood cats.
“No!” was the emphatic response. “Daddy doesn’t let us have other cats in the house.”
So these young curators had a board to report to!
I asked if there was potential for the exhibit to travel, to increase cat awareness by taking the exhibit on the road. The two girls looked doubtful, as if they hadn’t thought about the concept of increasing access and the dissemination of knowledge. Then I asked the girls if they’d thought about the display as a temporary travelling exhibit to take to different parts of the house. Jasmine and Morgan were quick to point out that their creation was a delicate structure that wasn’t built to endure relocation.
“Mommy says it has to stay downstairs. She doesn’t want it upstairs. She’s glad we made it but she doesn’t want it in the living room,” said Morgan.
Jasmine added, “It isn’t in one piece, so it isn’t really solid, and it can’t travel to other cat owners’ houses."
Wrapping up I asked if the project was a valuable experience. Who valued it? Most importantly, was the installation part of a larger organization’s activity and, if so, did it reflect the society’s mandate and vision? I strongly suspected that this museum exhibit was a private venture, pleasing only to its design team.
It was apparent that the girls didn’t have the language skills to consult Cleo and Rolly during the design process. My curators paid attention to their pets’ physical needs—like a BC Building Code for handicapped felines. Other details emerged. There was no admission charged. Unfortunately, there was no survey. Cleo and Rolly were not asked to take part in a critical review of visitor experience.
“We don’t know if the cats like it,” said Morgan honestly, but she was obviously unconcerned.
“We made pretend cat history,” added Jasmine, thinking that her statement substituted for an endorsement of an authentic experience.
Indeed, to seven year olds, making up the story was just fine.
Link to Video
Thanks to Heather McDonald and her energetic grade split six/seven class at Shuswap Middle School new museum program called Haney Stewards was launched.
Twenty-five students walked from Shuswap Middle School on a drizzling Thursday morning to learn a new skill. Teacher Heather McDonald said she was "stoked" about the partnership and day planned. Her class was going to make a significant environmental contribution to their community.
Rys Middleton, Justin Allbury, and Dan Deglan
The idea for the new program was hatched while attending a stewardship workshop in March. Dave Ramsay was the key note speaker and talked about an environmental class that he had designed at the Senior High. I approached Dave for some help from his students. We needed to repair a riparian zone at the Village. Dave had to decline. His class was a one semester offering and only ran from September to January.
Department of Oceans and Fisheries Community Advisory, Fred Lockwood, gave me some other leads. Heather McDonald at the Middle School was quick to agree to help. She said the timing was perfect. It was Environment Week at the school. Heather's class knew all about healthy streams, had an incubating fish tank in the class, and were raising fry for the Kingfisher Interpretive Centre. Students would soon be travelling to the Centre to release their fish, having participated in its egg take at the Centre in October, and had just dissected a fish the week before.
Supplies and volunteers were organized by Museum Treasurer Gary Cruikshank. Ole and Heather Oldenkamp donated the tree planting shovels while Skimikin Nurseries President James Kusisto donated 385 eighteen-month-old seedlings.
After their walk to the site the class was introduced to the initial project: planting regional species of vegetation in a riparian zone. Gary explained that the aim of the project was to replace 360 square metres of plants within 15 metres of Canoe Creek
The zone was damaged. Why? In 2011 a "bridge" was installed across Canoe Creek. It was made of wire and rock – usually used as a retainer in forestry road building. It blended into the landscape and gave the volunteers, staff, and visitors access to the lower pasture at the Village without going out to the highway. Since fish spawn in Canoe Creek, Biologists at the Department of Oceans and Fisheries had to be involved. They issued instructions to ensure that Canoe Creek stayed healthy. Plantings had to be replaced.
Initially willow, alder and maple trees were planted in 2012 and 2013. Gary suggested we plant a few conifers this year. The students received a short lesson on tree planting from Haney Village’s Gardener Norm, a seasoned tree planter, and seedlings were planted along the creek.
Gary knew that there were more areas to plant above the Village and took advantage of the eager workers. He had the class move uphill to the deer fence bordering the Salmon Arm Campground's neighbouring property. A recent development at the Campground had changed the look and feel of the nature trail near the Village's Amphitheatre. Gary wanted to plant trees near the fence to create a buffer between the subdivision's future houses and the theatre’s green space.
The rain was light that day, which was ideal for planting the young trees. Sheltered by the existing 80 to 100 year-old trees, the students worked hard to plant as much Larch as possible. The choice of tree for the upper trail made sense. Larch trees were a dominant species a century ago and the Haney property is located at "Larch Hill Corner.” Within a short time the students planted 250 trees. Those that were still frozen from their winter storage at the nursery were planted two days later by another crew of volunteers.
Next year Heather promises to bring back a whole new set of volunteers to help with the buffering project and this year's students have promised to come back and watch their trees grow. Thank you Haney Stewards!
Will any of these kids use the skills acquired at Haney Heritage Village and become high rollers in the tree planting world? Some of the students were considered the possibility while planting their trees. Of course this point no one knows for certain, but in the meantime over two hundred seedlings were planted.
Hip Hip Hooray to R.J. Haney Heritage Village and Museum's volunteers and staff:
Salmon Arm Museum Treasurer Gary Cruikshank, volunteer Ted Mackay, and R.J. Haney Heritage Village Gardener Norm Klassen.
May was an eventful month at R.J. Haney Heritage Village. Construction staff worked on the exhibit Fish on the Run while other staff cleaned and set up displays in buildings for opening day May 14th. The gardener started working his magic, Ted and Mary McTaggart cut the grass several times, a new cook was hired, and we unlocked the gate. All the activities were regular, cyclical patterns of behaviour.
What was exceptional was a new artefact earmarked for the A.D. Meek Filling Station. A generous donor stepped forward to help the Museum Association purchase a 1919 Model T touring automobile. From this curator’s perspective, the auto can’t be described in clinical cataloguing language. The new-to-us Ford convertible is cute as a button and her non-lacquered finish is just the way it should be.
Luckily the decision and negotiations weren’t left to the curatorial staff at Haney. Spearheaded by Brian Keith, Ron Mitchell, Gary Taylor, and Jerry Foskett assisted with the transaction. The committee of special members of the Shuswap Chapter of the Vintage Car Club took care of the mechanical inspection, purchase, and delivery of the vehicle. The group was essential. The car arrived polished and ready for photo opportunities. She’s a perfect addition to the street and visitors are welcome to have their pictures taken behind the wheel.
About a week later, several members of the Car Club delivered a restored gas pump to complete the Lester and Thomson Garage facade. Thanks to NBR, a bright and shiny new paint job advertises the Shell Station. Jerry Foskett told me that the pump was valued at $12,000 because of its rare glass cylinder. The Car Club kindly purchased a globe for the pump valued at $500. It weighed in at 800 pounds and was too heavy to lift, so the City of Salmon provided the use of its crane truck and operator Bruce Reynolds donated his time to deliver the pump. According to Car Club and Museum Board member Rosemary Wilson, “the pump is a great asset to the Village.”
The next major event was the Salmon Arm Museum’s Annual General Meeting. Doug Adams retired after over twenty years in the presidential chair. We spared no expense and threw him a party he won’t easily forget. Willie Nelson and his band made a special appearance. Willie’s sister, Bobbie, treated the gathering to her vocals, blending her harmonies to “All the things Doug did before.” Doug said that, with the right marketing, the rendition was sure to be a hit.
We welcomed a new board headed by familiar face Norma Harisch, granddaughter of homesteading pioneer Ed Peterson. Norma only agreed to take on the position if Doug promised to remain in the background as Past President offering his financial experience and training as needed.
Special guest Louis Thomas closed the meeting with a piece written on the contact history of the Secwepmec people. I’ve been convinced that Louis has as yet unrealized potential as a speaker, for oral history, and for cultural advice. His piece was a gift: informative, moving and much appreciated by the museum membership. I see great things ahead as Louis continues the work his mother, Mary, began, bridging the gap between our peoples. Louis promised to stay involved with the curatorial staff for a long, long time.
High Tea was the next event and kicked off the official season. Professional musician Peter Clark performed, the Shuswap School of Ballet entertained, and author Gord Allan's reading had all of us in suspense. Educator and actress Christine Pilgrim did a wonderful job of involving and entertaining her audience with the Lancashire poem Albert and the Lion. The food was a tribute to the skills of our new cook, staff and volunteers.
How will we top next month? A building is scheduled to move, we’ll host a Father’s Day event and a Quilt Show, an exhibit will open, and, with the cooperation of the Ministry of Education and the teachers of region, the Pioneer School program will bring R.J. Haney Heritage Village to life. We have much to be grateful for.
Model T and gas pump images courtesy Jerry Foskett
AGM photos courtesy of the talented Leah Blain, Lakeshore News.
An historic cultural event took place in Salmon Arm last month coinciding with the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. The timing was the nationally acclaimed Aboriginal Day. The event was the raising of the Secwepemc territorial flag at Salmon Arm's City Hall. It was marked by singing, drumming, and speeches. Representatives from the four area Secwepemc bands, Neskonlith, Little Shuswap, Adams Lake, and Splatsin were all in attendance to celebrate along with the representatives from the Metis Association, the Mayor and Council and us, the people who wanted to mark the occasion.
According to Mayor Nancy Cooper, the only other First Nations flag to fly on city hall grounds in Canada is in Regina. A little research indicates the First Nations flag outside Regina City Hall is the Treaty 4 flag, representing the First Nations of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Salmon Arm's flag raising is different. It represents the Secwepemc Nation which is, to date, without treaty.
Although rain threatened earlier, the sun broke as organizer Gina Johnny, a councillor at the Adams Lake Band, spoke. She introduced the elder who began the event with a prayer. The crowd stilled.
Chief Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith Indian Band spoke eloquently about the meaning of the flag. She told us that it represented all the Secwepemc bands, living and extinct. Seventeen feathers represented the bands we know today, vibrant with people, government, and a pride in culture. The thirteen ghost bands were also acknowledged in parts of the feathers that were silhouettes.
Wilson said the event was more than recognition of Secwepemc language and culture. "The biggest aspect is recognizing our people have a history here, our own government systems, laws and protocols and they have remained intact."
The event was personal for many. When it was her turn to speak, Mayor Nancy Cooper beamed, telling a personal story. Cooper's great-grandmother was from Quebec and First Nations. She told of a time in her family history when the newlywed was neither acknowledged nor treated well by her in-laws. "This one is for you great-grandmother," Cooper said.
Ronnie Jules, Joseph Johnny and Shane Camille sang a prayer as the flag was raised. The wind picked up. The Secwepemc flag along with the Canadian, B.C., and municipal flags began to flap in the breeze. All were flying in the same direction. All government representatives were told it was symbolic of working together.
I turned to a lady from Telegraph Creek who didn't know a soul in the crowd. As we got to talking about the significance of the ceremony we agreed. This was an occasion to remember.
When Sarah Burrell met instant death May 23rd, 1949, it made the front page of the Salmon Arm Observer. She was on a brief grocery shopping trip to the south side of the tracks when she was tragically struck by a locomotive. She had been a resident of Salmon Arm since 1905.
Sarah Burrell was a woman to be reckoned with according to an article by descendant Ada Grier published in the Vancouver Sun. Sarah was a determined woman. Born Sarah Grier to parents Matthew and Sarah, she spent most of her early years in Ontario learning how to run a household. When the Railway Belt was opened for settlement, Matthew Grier moved his family to Manitoba. Sarah wanted more education than her father thought appropriate. According to family lore, when she expressed her dream of becoming a teacher, Matthew went out and bought bolts of cloth. Bringing the fabric home, he told Sarah, “The family needs clothing, NOW you have something to do!”
Teaching wasn’t in the cards. Sarah met and married Charles Burrell in 1898. The couple settled at Langside, Manitoba. When land was being advertised in British Columbia, Charles, a pregnant Sarah, and their four children boarded the train for Salmon Arm. They took a homestead in South Canoe and Charles built a house. Disaster struck and the house burned to the ground when Charles was burning slash nearby. A second, smaller house was built soon after. Then Charles and his brother brushed trail for three quarters of a mile so the now five children could get to school. Sarah was the only woman around for miles.
Sarah and the children met the conditions of the homestead while Charles worked away as a bookkeeper at a sawmill. He only came home on weekends. Sarah was clever; she couldn’t clear the land on her own so she hired and supervised a group of Eurasians to clear the brush. When the conditions were met for the grant, the deed was made out to Charles Burrell. A wise man, Charles turned half of the property over to Sarah, who “traded [it] for a house in the town of Salmon Arm and that was the end of homesteading. Sarah maintained, ‘I don’t like living so close to the edge!’”
To make life easy for the children, the family moved into a house on Third Avenue (now Third St. SE) described as in the “toffee part of town” and very close to Salmon Arm Central School. Summers were spent camping on Shuswap Lake. Winters were spent at house parties, dance competitions, sleighing parties, and voice lessons. Sarah became involved with the Women’s Institute, serving as president and “… remained opinionated and sharp to the end,” writes Ada Grier.
At some point Sarah and Charles moved again to Railway Avenue (likely Beatty Ave. NW). She was 83 when she was hit by a westbound C.P.R. freight train while walking across the tracks near the Salmon Arm Farmers’ Exchange plant. She was hard of hearing and carrying a number of parcels.
“[S]he evidently failed to hear or see the approaching train.” Ted Gorse, Louis Rolin, and A. J. Reading saw the accident. Reading shouted to warn Sarah, but she didn’t hear him or the approaching train. The train’s fireman, Daniel E. Johnson, shouted at the engineer to “PLUG IT!” The emergency brakes were applied immediately and the train stopped but Robert Law, the engineer, was not fast enough.
“Provincial police were notified and Constable H.O. Jamieson and Nelson Hindle responded. Mrs. Burrell was dead when the officer arrived, the Salmon Arm Observer reported. [Thomas] Bowers Funeral Service was entrusted with the care of the remains.
Today the tracks around the yard are protected from jay walkers. After the death of another hard of hearing resident, Carl Shoemaker, in 2010, chain link fencing was installed to protect the public. Carl, like Sarah, was also remembered for his indomitable spirit.
The Canadian Pacific Railroad has two railroad crossings in downtown Salmon Arm. One is located at Narcisse St. NW and the second at Marine Park Drive NW or Wharf Rd. I wonder if Sarah Burrell and Carl Shoemaker would have had an opinion on the safety measures implemented by C.P.R.?
An Immigrant Journey: the Grier Family from a series on Celebrating our Diversity
The Vancouver Sun, Thursday, March 27, 2008.
Photo: The Burrell family circa 1907. Denis Marshall collection, Salmon Arm Museum
Salmon Arm Museum and Heritage Association frequently interacts with two other local groups which share a strong interest in the history of our region. These are the Heritage Committee of the Salmon Arm City Council, and the Salmon Arm Branch of the Okanagan Historical Society. These three groups have worked to support one another on fund-raising and special events such as research projects, rolling shelving for the Archives Room, the erection of signs displaying heritage street names, the establishment of a register of historically significant local buildings and features, recording interviews with local residents, and putting on the popular “Tea and Tours” of heritage buildings.
The OHS has seven semi-autonomous branches in communities from Osoyoos to Salmon Arm, and is overseen by the “parent body” at the direction of its Executive Council, where representatives of all the individual branches make decisions which apply to all.
The objectives of the society are :
Since September 10, 1926 (except for the war years) the OHS has published an annual Report, a book-length collection of stories and histories of the region's personalities, institutions, and events. Every report contains articles from each branch, and the 78th Report will be available in October of 2014. It will include a history of the Art Gallery/Arts council building (formerly the Post Office, then the Salmon Arm branch of the Okanagan Regional Library); articles about the late Edith Wright, Phil Cave, Ronnie Turner, Don Rogers, and Yvonne Arnouse, and obituary notices of several other notable citizens. A photo of Ronnie Turner will be featured on the cover. When the new Report comes out each fall, the S.A. Branch holds book sales in the mall where we sell it, and other recent Reports or books of local history. In addition, the new and recent Reports are available for sale in local bookstores or at meetings or special events of the local branch.
This year the Salmon Arm Branch is celebrating its 25th anniversary. My continuing role in the local branch is as Branch Editor. My responsibilities involve obtaining, editing and submitting locally relevant articles for the Report. The Branch Editors' Committee meets two or three times a year with the (chief) Editor to discuss issues and exchange information relevant to the publication of the Report.
Collecting and/or soliciting submissions includes interacting with authors to write the pieces, collecting pictures relating to the submissions, obtaining signed permissions from the writers and subjects to use their information or photos, obtaining short biographies of authors, and ensuring that all are correctly credited. The Archives and staff at the Museum have been invaluable in striving for accuracy and informative details in our articles.
Once all the materials are received, I will edit them as needed for accuracy, length, grammar, spelling or usage, making sure to keep the author's “voice” authentic in each piece. I am also responsible to return all hard copies of photos or information to their owners. Once I have made sure that they conform to the required format chosen by the O.H.S. Editor, I must submit articles and pictures on disc or by e-mail to the Editor by the deadline established. It is the O.H.S. Editor's decision which of the submitted materials will be accepted for publication, and where in the Report each will appear.
Another role I fulfill for the O.H.S. is to coordinate their annual Student Essay Contest. This is open to any post-secondary student and awards a prize of $1000.00 to the winner. In addition, the winning essay is published in the next edition of the O.H.S. Report. Further details about the Essay Contest can be found on the website at www.okanaganhistoricalsociety.org.
I welcome suggestions for articles of local geographical, archaeological, or historical interest to submit for publication. I can be contacted at 250-832-8547 or at email@example.com.
The Salmon Arm Branch is always open to anyone interested in local history – you need not be a longtime resident or specially educated to take part. We meet monthly from September to June. Our meetings and special events are publicized in the local papers, or you can contact Rosemary Wilson at 250 835-4359 for more information.
Colour image of Ronnie Turner: Askew's Foods
Black and white image of Phil Cave: Salmon Arm Observer collection, Salmon Arm Museum and Heritage Association
The Salmon Arm Museum has had some great news this month. A few months ago Museum staff members took part in the Shuswap Community Foundation’s Vital Signs project, a checkup conducted by community foundations across Canada. The results are in.
The project attempted to measure the vitality of our Shuswap communities in key areas, providing critical information that can help set priorities and identify opportunities for action.
Participating, the project felt like a fact finding mission, it set out to gauge the health of our region by pulling together statistics, questionnaires, and data that are used to grade eight areas:
Good news for arts and culture. Those who took the time to fill out a survey graded arts and culture with an A. In other words: “Awesome! Our community is doing great!” The other identified areas didn’t do as well.
Belonging and Leadership, Health and Wellness, Learning, and Safety earned B. Environment earned a C+. Housing and Work a C, and Gap between rich and poor and Getting Around earned a C-
Survey responses 69 % female, 51% between 30-59 years old, 44% were 60 or older, and 69% had no dependent children. They came from the Shuswap: 186 lived in Salmon Arm, 10 were from Sicamous, and 92 lived in Areas C, D, E, and F in the CSRD. It sounds like a relatively small sample and the report shows there’s much work to be done.
The challenge will be for community groups like the Shuswap Community Foundation to look at areas that need work and the Foundation’s granting resources. I know there’ll be a raised awareness at the granting table. Charities that have projects that raise quality of community life will be getting more attention. It seems likely that funding will be weighted for the good of the community. This is all positive when it comes to raising standards.
Click here to find the whole report on the Shuswap Community Foundation’s website.
The RJ Haney Heritage Village has closed for the season. Haney House is winterized. The last main event of the season is over. 1,200 spooks have gone home and we're waiting for winter. Old timers say there'll be snow in town just six weeks after the dusting of snow on Fly Hills. Early December, if they are right.
But things are far from quiet at the village. The Museum is still open and Rosemary, Lise, Gloria, Janice, Anne, Pat, Carol, and Doreen faithfully come to work on museum and archival projects, collectively donating 1,393.5 hours a year.
Gloria is indexing the 1951 Observer. She says, "It is interesting but I think I read too much." In the process she's learning lots about post war Salmon Arm.
Rosemary does whatever is asked of her, but has a pet project, the tax records for the District of Salmon Arm. She is also the official tracker of Museum Board motions and Revenue Canada Receipts. She likes working in Excel, but is flexible enough to tackle other programs. Rosemary is also the go to person for the history of Tappen. When I ask her why she 'works' up to three days a week, she says, "I'd rather do this than other things." Rosemary is committed.
Doreen has been working on the professional photographs, slides, and negatives of Don Grabowecki. Don was trained at the Emily Carr School of Art and Design in Vancouver when it was known as the Vancouver School of Art, and Don's records of Salmon Arm events and landscape dates back to the 1960s. In a few years we hope to have a show of Don's work.
Lise works away on other photographs, applying key terms to the previously catalogued images, making them more accessible to the public. A retired teacher librarian, Lise is perfect for the job. She also works 3 days a week when her vacations don't conflict. Lise's other passion is travelling.
So far Lise has worked on 8,800 images, but the collection, by definition, continues to grow. She laughs when more work is piled on her desk, promising to work at the task for another six years. Maybe then we'll be caught up, but then the digital collections will start to take over…
Janice is working away on the headstones in the Mt. Ida Cemetery. Her resource is used by researchers who email questions about who is 'planted' in the old section of the cemetery. Janice's project is closely related to Mark's, a SASS student who has volunteered to create a database complete with photos of headstones. Mark is new to the team and works at home remotely. Eventually death certificates for the interred will by hyperlinked to the BC Archives and Records Services genealogy website.
Anne and Pat shouldn't be left out. They are our material culture girls. Anne faithfully catalogues all the artefacts, assigning them object names and classification terms. Anne's love of old things makes her a perfect fit to collections management tasks. She's also fussy.
"Why do you want this?" She asks when an incoming collection has something odd in it.
Her questions raise the bar and mean we have a careful and sustainable growth to the artefact collection. Nothing broken, incomplete, or duplicated gets catalogued.
Pat is a relative newcomer. She's completely flexible, works on collections, correspondence, exhibits, and archives. Recently she helped sort artefacts for storage in our new container. Over the winter she'll sew new garment bags for the clothing collection. She's very versatile but prefers working physically. Closing up Haney House for the winter was just Pat's English 'cup of tea.'
Carol is a specialist and new this year. She's a keen operator and has learned how to preserve images digitally using a PC rather than her preferred MAC computer. With apparent ease, Carol has been working on the black and white negatives from the 1980s that have never been viewable.
The ladies work year round, taking only a couple of weeks off over the Christmas holiday. If you ask anyone what part of the day they like the best, there's only one answer. "Lunch," they say in unison, a time to catch up on things that have happened in their lives that week. All are looking forward to the Christmas Archives 'Staff' party. They say they don't get enough time to socialize at work. I couldn't be a luckier curator!
The Di-Versity Heritage Quilt Group has a long standing relationship with R.J.Haney Heritage Village. The Group was established 10 years ago and has hosted two quilt shows at the Village. The shows are called Pieces of History Re-stitched and are a beautiful use of the spaces we have at the Village. The quilts and other needlework look like they belong.
Quilt shows are a particular passion of mine. It is a family affair. My husband also looks forward to them and insists we attend together. He is always in awe of the needlework and artistry displayed and I know others are too. I've seen local surgeons among the visitors confirming my opinion. They obviously appreciate fine needlework.
When hosting a quilt show, the Di-Versity Heritage Quilt Group does a fund raiser. This year the group raffled a quilt. The quilt was a club affair. Pat Olmstead purchased the materials and pieced the quilt top. Vicki Reierson did the custom machine quilting. Each member sold at least two books of tickets. Blanche Hartnett organized the sale of tickets and sat many, many times at the local malls and at functions at the Village.
The winning ticket was drawn at the Village June 21st. Of course I bought a few tickets, but unfortunately wasn't a winner. Lucky Emily Valintini took home the prize. When all is said and done though, the Curatorial Department was the real winner. The Di-Verstiy Heritage Quilt Group earmarked its $1,200 in proceeds for museum textile storage.
Almost coincidentally, the staff and volunteers that work with collections began working on textiles in the basement of the Salmon Arm Museum in 2014. An inventory was done to reconcile the museum's database with the collection. Like items were sorted into boxes. Volunteer Pat Turner repaired some of the doilies and textiles that needed a quick stitch or two adhering to the principle of not doing any repair work that couldn't be undone. Rosemary Wilson typed Pat's compiled lists and they were put on boxes.
Unfortunately there wasn't money in the 2014 budget to purchase museum quality boxes for the collection. We scrounged where we could and had to resort to reusing cardboard boxes from the liquor store and Salmon Arm Stationery. When the heritage group donated the funds, staff and volunteers were asked to think about where best to use the gift this year.
This month we will order the needed storage boxes from archival and museum supplier Carr McLean. By ordering in quantity we get a better deal. Over the winter we'll transfer the inventoried textiles into proper museum storage containers.
Thank you Di-Versity Heritage Quilt Group! Your gift is helping to preserve a collection for future generations.
The turning of the calendar is an opportunity to reflect on a year, assess the accomplishments in the department shared by the collections management team, and create a plan for the things to do in the coming year. Many of the volunteers in the department dream of more space. I tell them it is okay to dream but we are lucky to have the space we have. The Salmon Arm Museum was fortunate to receive funding for an expansion in 2010. The archives room is climate controlled, well and appropriately lit, and a cheerful place to work.
The volunteers are quick to answer in unison, “BUT the collection is growing!”
We’ve worked hard this year to process one third of Denis Marshall’s collection of wonderful documents and photographs. With many tasks presented to her, our summer student, Janelle, also worked hard on Marshall’s subject files, doubling the museum’s existing collection of information files.
We mounted a new exhibit in the museum, created a new exhibit on the territory of the Secwepemc, the First Nations in our area, took exhibits to the Fall Fair and City Hall, and created a new exhibit on the Peterson family, the most recent recipients of the Century Farm Award.
So what do my volunteers think should be the resolutions for our operation in 2013?
I agree, their resolutions worth striving for.
Rosemary Blair sat on the Salmon Arm Museum's Board of Directors for many years and was a very active volunteer. She came from pioneer stock and was keenly interested in preserving the local history. She was connected to the community, was raised on the WX Ranch, and had stories of growing up here. She was very valuable to me, like gold.
Rosemary would come to museum board meetings when they didn't interfere with her passion, which was bridge. At some point I started reading the bridge column in the Salmon Arm Observer and noticed her consistent wins. I used to congratulate her on her skill and tease her that she wasn't likely going to develop Alzheimer's because she had such an active internal life. She never did.
Some time ago I asked Rosemary if she'd consider volunteering in the archives room. She said she didn't think she was much of a typist, but I told her speed wasn't a requirement. She just needed to be accurate.
She started transcribing the diaries of Alec Dennys, a young 18 year old boy who chronicled his trip to Salmon Arm over the Atlantic in the wake of the Titanic. I think Dennys' diaries hooked Rosemary.
She'd show up on Thursdays, always in the morning, before lunch. She settled in and took on the job. She had a computer at home and quickly, with a little instruction, figured out how to do the data entry. Then we broke for lunch, which she bought if the tea room was open. If lunch wasn't available at the Village, she'd stop at Tim's on her way to "work" and bring a bag lunch from there. I think she was avoiding packing a lunch from home. She'd likely done that all her working career as a nurse. The break was something that all the volunteers liked best about the day. There was, and still is, conversation and laughter.
Back at work and after a couple of hours, Rosemary would head home again. She was stiff when she got up. She was bothered by sitting for too long, but she never complained.
It didn't take Rosemary long to become part of the crew in the archives room. I sat at my desk at one end of the long archives room and noticed they'd chat amongst themselves during the work day, helping each other out with archival problems, and sharing bits of information from their personal lives, about their kids and grand kids, and talking about their trips. They all felt entitled to vacations from me, Rosemary included. We soon figured that Rosemary especially liked to travel and we all knew when an adventure was being planned.
Then I needed some interviews transcribed. They were done in the 1980s and I needed to be able to call up information found in those conversations with old timers. When that was completed, Rosemary moved on to another project.
In the last three years, Rosemary transcribed several years of Denis Marshall's index of the Salmon Arm Observer. She indexed all the business ads for the paper and started on to the local news, one year at a time. When she was entering the data, she'd find a Wilcox relative mentioned or comment on an occasion that was reported in the paper. She found connections in the work she was doing and added depth to the stories behind the news.
One of her stories I use on my cemetery tour is about when her grandfather was killed on the tracks, rushing to help a neighbour whose house was on fire. WJ Wilcox's widow was asked to identify the body. There was only one mark on it. That detail wasn't reported in the paper.
Another story she told me was about when immigrant labourers were brought from India to help with the farm work. The hired hands had their photograph taken by Rex Lingford in front of the Enderby bridge in three piece business suits and wearing turbans. I used to wonder what the devil they were doing in Enderby. It turned out Rex, a relative of Rosemary's, had a second studio there.
Rosemary told me that the WX Ranch had a building for the hired men to live in. I learned the workers were from different castes. They couldn't eat together, but they ordered food cooperatively. They loved Limburger cheese and it had to be divided evenly on the scales at the farm. When the migrant workers left that year, the house was turned into a chicken coop. The chickens refused to use their new digs until the interior was painted. They were sensitive to the overpowering smell of the cheese! With her story, Rosemary made the history human.
I'm not sure who found her birth announcement in the Observer, because we have three women working on this project, but all of a sudden everyone knew how old she was and that caused tongues to wag in the archives room!
All the while giving her time, Rosemary was also generous with her retirement funds, donating money to projects at the museum and archives where she saw a need. Last year she gave us $1,000 towards acid free boxes to store the Salmon Arm Observer photographs and negatives. Rosemary's only comment was full of grace. She said that her husband, Bruce, told her before he died, that she could afford to do this sort of thing.
Thank you Romey for your gifts. We will all miss you.
Photo credit: Denis Marshall, Sawdust Caesars
My friend Phillip Cave departed this March 4th with his family at his side. He probably left with a quiet style, as was his habit. He was at peace.
Phil was born, grew up and educated in Salmon Arm. He ran his own mill on Martin Road. He married Eileen Thielman of Grandview Bench and they had four girls. Phil was quiet about his family life, though admitted all of his offspring were, in his words, "pretty bright." You could tell he was proud of them.
Phil was the longest running alderman in Salmon Arm's history, serving from 1966 to 1990. As was custom, Mayors of the day assigned Aldermen to attend cultural, environmental, and sports groups' meetings. Phil was the Alderman assigned to the Salmon Arm Museum and Heritage Association. He was with the Association when it moved operations from downtown's "Centennial" Museum building just across from the Cenotaph to R.J. Haney Heritage Village. He was an active part of the vision.
Rarely missing a Museum meeting, Phil agreed to be the Treasurer of the Association when Norma Harisch relinquished the chair and Treasurer Doug Adams stepped up to fill that vacancy. Phil didn't mind. He was close to Haney Heritage Village. In his capacity as Treasurer Phil did the most important job for the organization. He was always available to sign paycheques.
I think Phil kind of liked the place. It was almost in his backyard and he was reliable. He had been with the organization since its inception. For years, every monthly Association meeting followed with chatter about some past event involving Salmon Arm's residents. Phil and John Pottie would get into reminiscing over the after- meeting-coffee-and-cookies. Like about the time they put Johnnie Pottie in a tire and rolled him down the hill into the girls' outhouse at the Larch Hill School yard. John laughs now, but that roll ended with a bang. He was much younger than Phil's crowd of friends and the older boys likely didn't want him around.
Needless to say there were smiles between the two museum board members that night. John Pottie must have gotten over the tire ride. The two "adult" boys made me laugh and I asked them to work on a "history" presentation for the next monthly meeting. Both men declined, preferring to adlib as the spirit moved. They said they were shy.
And although he said he was shy, Phil was extremely social. He made regular appearances at the Village, checking in on all activities when it was cheque signing time. He'd pop into the archives and say, "nothing for you this week." I knew that. It wasn't always my payday. Then Phil would ask about my house and son and his family in Japan. He'd check on operations, the cook in the kitchen, and go up to Ted and Mary's private residence for a visit. It was a quiet routine.
Once in a while I'd be doing some research for an environmental company about businesses in Salmon Arm. As a former councilman, Phil was valuable. He had the public knowledge of an insider. Phil was on council when the Industrial Park was created. He was also on council when they took the "Newnes" farm land on Piccadilly and Rotten Row out of the A.L.R. and permitted the development of what is now the Mall at Piccadilly. "We took heck for that," he told me.
Phil also had strong opinions, quietly expressed. In the 1990s, when my children were in baseball , he would ask about the club, wondering how the club and ultimately the parents were going to be able to pay any increased fees to use the ball diamonds. He'd shake his head at the council of the day. "Don't they realize that these organizations make a community?"
So that sums up Phil. All about friendship, community, support, and making this place better. The Board, staff, members and volunteers at Haney Heritage Village are sad to see him go. We've lost a good friend.
According to Robin Hickman, his mother Margaret sold the Mall property (also known to old timers as the "Newnes" property) to Mainline Co-op Mall in 1973. It was preloaded for a year before construction.
April is a busy month at the Village. Volunteers and staff are cleaning and readying the Village for opening in mid-May. We’re busy in the curatorial department too. The Salmon Arm Observer’s James Murray and I are installing a new exhibit on the Silver Creek Fire of 1998. Ken Tebo, Barry Tarr, Peter Kilby, Jake Jacobson, Cliff Doherty, Cathy Semchuk, Brad Shirley, Ron Essex, Keith Cox, Ron at EZ Rock Radio, Neil Sutcliffe, Jeanette Clement, and others are helping to build this exhibit.
Thanks to the generosity of the Salmon Arm Observer, Publisher Rick Proznick, and Editor Tracy Hughes, we’re reprinting over sixty photographs that covered the fire. To be expected, the Observer’s photo album has been well handled over the last fifteen years and, thanks to James’ dedication, dust, fingerprints, and other flaws are being meticulously removed.
We’re supplementing the photographs with artifacts: the uniforms and equipment of those who fought the fire. The Rapattack crew fought the blaze after the initial assault from the air by water bombers. For a while it was thought the fire was under control. When structures were threatened at Silver Creek, the volunteer fire department stepped in. Not long after, the Salmon Arm Fire Department’s volunteers also suited up.
As I gather information, I learn more about firefighting. Over and over again I hear that the helicopters and water bombers are used initially and aggressively to attack wild fires, followed by human power. The safety of crews is considered first. Unfortunately, the fire grew out of control in 1998 and a state of emergency was called. Just back from Bosnia, one hundred soldiers from the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry were sent to help
Everyone has a story. The fire affected the entire community. People come forward with their stories. I ask them simple questions. Where were you when the strike hit? What was your role in the fire? What are your memories?
The responses are full of impact. Fire Warden Jake Jacobson told me that on a hot, windy, summer’s night, he can’t sleep. He’s remembering the wind that fanned the fire in August 1998.
My adopted son Guido Reichlin was only 19 when the strike hit. His was a volunteer fireman at the Glen Eden Fire Hall. He told me he can’t eat tuna fish sandwiches to this day.
Alan Harrison, City Counselor, and his brother defended his parents’ place on Foothills. Alan said the gravel pit saved the Harrison home. It felt like a Holocaust.
Eugene Hydamacka was a volunteer fireman with the Silver Creek Fire Department. He stopped by to say goodbye to his house in the middle of the disaster. When he returned later, he was surprised that it was still standing. His animals had been evacuated by a good Samaritan when Eugene was too busy to take care of them. He was trying his best to save his neighbours’ homes. A rancher in Enderby boarded Eugene’s animals for free.
Gary Hucul was a fireman with the Silver Creek Fire Department too. His words are simply put, but full of impact. “It felt like the end of the world.”
Do you have stories you want to share? We’re collecting them for the archives, hoping to build a resource that will survive for future reference. Call 250-832-5289 and we’ll set up a time to interview you.
Photo credits: Salmon Arm Observer
What does a curator like to do for Mother's Day? Take a leisurely drive to a quilt show fundraiser to see the interior of a special museum.
The Chase and District Museum and Archives Society has recovered nicely from the two attempts at arson that destroyed much of the collection and severely damaged the building's interior in 2011. The community was outraged. Its museum mattered! Exhausted from assault, the Museum Board and staff stood together and decided to rebuild what was destroyed. They, the membership and other volunteers worked hard.
The structure has been refurbished, damage removed, and rebuilt from the inside out. The Society consulted Heritage expert Cuyler Page and took steps to create a well heated, cooled, and lit centre that would be able to host new exhibits for decades.
When reconstructing the facility, tough decisions had to be made when repurposing the former church. A deliberate choice was not to restore the twice-moved structure. They reinvented it. The damaged wood siding was removed and the exterior was sided with an oxblood red Hardie Board- a mixture of fiber and cement that requires low maintenance, never needs painting, and is a sensible answer to the devastation of the two fires. The colour choice was the original church's colour, a nod to the structure's early days. Gone also are the church windows that were problematic when creating interior exhibit layouts
The inside was taken back to the studs. A company dealing in hazardous materials was called in to remove Zonolite, a product containing asbestos. The Board chose not to restore the unique tongue and groove barrel ceiling. The former ceiling was a special architectural detail. Although a little sad, the decision to drop the ceiling was practical. It would have been too expensive to restore it. Insurance and other dollars would only stretch so far. Instead high ceilings and fans were installed and welcome air conditioning circulates through the building and a security camera monitors activities.
The layout of the new space has been reversed, the gift shop enlarged, and the walls and ceiling have been painted an off white. The exhibit lighting is now plentiful and flexible. A high quality flooring looks super and, best of all, is now all one level. The space is truly wheel chair accessible.
Past President Roger Behn took me on a tour and he is right to be proud. He mentioned that the Village of Chase now owns the structure. In taking responsibility of the asset, the Village has made sure that culture and tourism will continue to thrive in the community. It also places the Museum Society on a strong footing, letting the organization get back to the work it needs to do engaging its community.
The exhibit I saw was engaging. The displayed quilts were stunning. One of my favourite quilts was by Patsy Cuthbertson. Her quilt was an old fashioned Double Wedding Ring pattern, her comments were attached to the quilt. She'd done the pattern twice, the first time quilting by machine. When she did pattern a second time she quilted it by hand and found both the hand work easier and more satisfying. Some things are meant to be done the old fashioned way!
While in the museum I met Salmon Arm quilters Blanche Hartnett and Dana Fenwick also taking in the show, getting ideas, thinking about their own show in 2014. They, like me, were doing what they liked to do best on a Mother's Day weekend. They were looking at the work of others and hoping for inspiration. Well done members of the museum and quilters associations!
For Summer hours of the Chase and District Museum and Archives consult their website:
I've had the pleasure of coordinating the Thompson/Okanagan regional meeting of the Archives Association of British Columbia for six years. The tradition was established in 1993, twenty years ago, by the past-president of the Association, Linda Wills. She offered her institution, the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives, as the first meeting place. At that time she had people from other cultural institutions consulting her, and they would ask endless questions. How do you do this? Where can we apply for funding? What do we collect? What are the best practices? How do we do better with what we have?
Enderby and District Museum Society Archivist Joani Cowan was the next coordinator and she had a brilliant idea. She arranged for meetings to change locales ... we went to different institutions. We learned by example. Seeing the workplaces of others helped all of us figure out what we should aim for and what should be avoided.
Both Linda and Joani believed the meeting was important. They secured a guest speaker on an important topic. The best part of any meeting was the visit behind the public spaces and the round table at the end of the day where we talked about our projects. We continued to learn from each other. Contact information was exchanged and connections were made.
This year Sicamous and District Museum and Historical Society opened its doors to us. Last year Museum moved into a new facility at the newly constructed Village Hall. The building was purpose-built. Heritage Consultant Cuyler Page helped with the layout and helped the museum board focus on the stories it wanted to tell. The result - spectacular.
The speaker for our meeting was Curator Cathy English of Revelstoke Museum and Archives on "Making your Archives Work for You". Cathy has completed two Community Memories projects and is working on a Virtual Museum Exhibit. She's authored two books: Reflections - Four Decades of Photographs by Earle and Estelle Dickey, and First Tracks, the History of Skiing in Revelstoke, and completed a project commemorating the 1910 Rogers Pass snow slide. She talked about her next book, to be released in July 2014 called Brown Bag History, Volume 1.
The day didn't end there. Over lunch we were treated to a tour of the Sicamous harbour thanks to Twin Anchors Houseboat Rentals Ltd. The view from the water helped participants visualize just how the first European visitors saw the area. Eagle Pass Landing, as Sicamous was called, was the route that early travellers followed to Farwell (now known as Revelstoke).
Always entertaining, Gordon Mackie, former Mayor and Past President of the Sicamous Museum Association, spoke on his favourite topic, Shuswap Lake history. Mackie was the owner of Shuswap Lake Transportation Company for many years and knows the topic well.
It was a wonderful day! How can we top this meeting next year? It will be hard.
Thank you to Denise Klinge, Neil Finlayson, and Gordon Mackie for making the local arrangements. The gathering was a treat!
The backbone of wild fire fighting in the province are the men and women carrying pulaskis, shovels, and "piss cans" or more correctly back pack pumps. The work is seasonal and many who serve are career-long fire fighters.
Fire Warden Jake Jacobson has been hiring locals since his career began in 1986. Most of his crews are First Nations. Jake doesn’t have a noble reverse discrimination hiring policy. His crews have to be qualified and to work hard.
When Jake started hiring, he weeded out the poor workers by not rehiring them again the following year. By selectively rehiring only the best workers he began almost exclusively hiring men and women from local bands. As Jake's crews gained experience, many became crew supervisors.
Adams Lake Band members Linda Gaze, Bobby Kenoras, and Brian Johnny described the Silver Creek Fire and others in an interview June 12, 2013. They spoke of the fire on both sides of the Salmon Valley - Fly Hills and Mt. Ida. They all agreed that it felt like being under an jet airplane that was flying too close to the ground. There was no air as the fire sucked away the oxygen.
Brian Johnny complimented the Army crews brought in, saying they were pretty good workers, fast, and in excellent shape. The soldiers learned quickly. The local crews worked alongside the military digging fire guard.
Digging guard is always hard work. Bobby Kenoras interjected that the guard has to be dug down past the duff to the mineral soil below and past anything that was burnable. When the three walked out of the bush at the end of the day, they were always covered in grey ash.
The crews worked long hours on the Silver Creek Fire. Brian clocked 100 hours in six days. At first they packed their own lunches and went home at night to sleep. Later, when a camp was set up, they were fed breakfast and lunch at the base.
Brian says, you if you can't laugh at a fire, you're taking it too seriously. He's lost many a boot to walking on a hotspot he thought was cold. Duct tape is his answer. The sole is taped on to the boot.
When asked, why they go back every year when the pay is low, the work is hard and ugly, the three are quick to reply:
Brian says he likes the thrill, the good memories of fire fighting and that he gets to be in charge of the fire crew and make decisions.
Linda likes the change and being away from her regular routine.
Bobby likes the challenge of different fires and using different techniques.
They all like doing a job well, taking pride in the accomplishment, and have a sense of independence. They have control over their work environment, but can call for back up help if needed.
When asked, "What jobs do you like the least?"
Brian said, "Digging [fire] guard, that's why I worked my way up to be a boss, leading instead of digging."
Linda said, "Dangerous trees on any fire. I walk around them. A hazardous tree can be really scary."
Bobby said with humour, "Putting it out, the end [of the fire]."
But the Silver Creek fire's end in October didn't mean an end in opportunity for the three. For the next two years mushroom picking employed many of their crews. Morels grew in the burnt area and fetched $17/lb. The prized Pine mushrooms sold for $70/lb.
Since the Silver Creek Fire in 1998, more than fifty Secwepemc First Nations women and men have fought Wildland fires in our region. Their contribution is part of a long and proud history of service and protection. Years ago, firefighters would hike into a fire, build a camp, and stay there for several weeks while fighting the fire. Often one of the group would hunt wild game to feed the crew-members. The Secwepemc are not unique. There is a strong presence of FN firefighters throughout Canada.
To qualify as a Wildland firefighter, candidates must take and pass a two-day course and take an annual safety refresher course.
The past two months staff, board members, volunteers and contractors have been hard at work in the Lester and Thomson Garage. The first task was to empty the building. Board members Doug Adams and Gary Cruikshank assisted staff in sorting out artefacts from salvaged building materials and items stored “temporarily” and then cleared out the garage. Storage for farm implements was secured off site, thanks to a museum supporter, Alf Peterson.
The building's interior was painted. The floor was sealed. After the paint dried, a road trip to the Peterson Brothers Ltd. building scored several truckloads of salvageable work stations. Then the stations were refabricated and installed by Dave and Erin Myers of Manta Enterprises. Dave and Erin also built parts department exhibit-style cases for additional display space.
With the garage furnishings in place, three retired mechanics, Richard Maki, Jerry Foskett, and Allan Wilson made sure staff outfitted the work stations properly. Taking Jerry's advice, the tire repair station was moved closer to the entrance, making room for engine repairs in the back.
Then we worked on the interpretation of the exhibit.
With days to spare and expecting resistance, we tackled the last “guy” space in the Garage, the Vintage Car Club’s library of manuals was cleaned and organized. The mouse nest was removed by yours truly and the building put on a maintenance schedule for pest control. Jerry Foskett, unofficial librarian for the Club, was grateful. Organizing the library was on his to do list for a while and would have taken him a lot longer than the two days we took to do the job. In Jerry’s words, “I would have stopped to read the books!”
Is the Garage exhibit finished? In the words of Construction and Maintenance Manager Ted McTaggart, “This is a work in progress; it will be tweaked for years.”
I had hoped not. I wanted to change gears and directions, get the grease from under my nails, and go on to the next major project, an application to the BC Council for operating funds.
At the moment I’m still looking for an appropriate ashtray and spittoon for the customer waiting and radio sales area. I also need more tools…especially wrenches. With or without these items, the Garage is open for viewing. Come see what we’ve been up to this summer.
Opening of the Lester and Thomson Garage pictured above: left to right
Curator Deborah Chapman, Bryan Kassa (Shuswap Community Foundation), Barry Swenson (President, Shuswap Chapter of the Vintage Car Club of Canada), Doug Adams (President, Salmon Arm Museum), Allan Wilson (consulting mechanic), and Richard Maki (consulting mechanic).
This exhibit was made possible by grants from the Shuswap Community Foundation, Vancouver Foundation, and Hamber Foundation and the interest earned on the Peterson Family, Jack and Edith Stead Endowment and Salmon Arm Museum Endowment Funds. Thank you!
For press coverage of the opening click here.
This month is all about an annual application to the BC Arts Council. The work is intense but also a pleasure. In it President Doug Adams, Treasurer Gary Cruikshank, General Manager Susan Mackie and I describe activities, programs, and exhibits at the Museum and Village, count our numbers, ask visitors and users for quotes, and try to figure out just how well we, the board, staff and volunteers, at the museum and archives measure up. We write about capacity and sustainability, making our museum matter, and, last but not least, evaluate our "product".
This year has been an exciting one in the Curatorial Department. We opened the Lester and Thomson Garage and the Flight from the Flames exhibits. We launched the Community Memories online exhibit of the Story of Ruth in French. We interviewed people. Then we wrote pieces for newspapers, newsletters, blogs, and the Okanagan Historical Society Report.
Throughout the year, four exhibits were installed in our case at City Hall, taking our message to another demographic, visitors to the municipal hall. One exhibit was installed at The Mall at Piccadilly for Heritage Week on the heritage buildings in our community - another outreach program. Likely the most popular exhibit was the Jack Thornton exhibit on mining on Mt. Ida. Installed at Memory Lane during the Fall Fair, free "Haney Gold" was salted in the museum's sluice box and 270 claim jumpers panned to their hearts' content.
Throughout the year, the work of museum continued. We accessioned artifacts, entered the catalogue sheets in a database, processed two large archival collections, added to our newspaper index, transcribed interviews, and edited tax records.
Staff and volunteers worked hard. During the year we served 167 researchers, sold digitized prints, completed land use studies for engineering firms, and wrote storylines.
Of note is the archival support provided people involved in the Dinner Theatre production Firewatch. Although a relatively small archival and curatorial contribution, we're proud that 2,383 people were entertained by a story connected to our site. At the end of the season attendance numbers were up, the music was exceptional, and Peter Blacklock, actors, Hannah, Reid, Caleb and Maria, support staff in Operations, and the Board were justifiably proud. The production was the best in 20 years!
All in all it has been a good year. I, for one, am thankful to the BC Arts Council for the task of reviewing activities that connect us to our community, celebrate our history, and summarize the patrons that we serve. One result is a new survey form for visitors. Check out the form developed exclusively for the curatorial department.
We want your opinion of the Billie Louie, Last of the Shuswap Riverboat Captains and the Flight from the Flames exhibits.
Salmon Arm Museum Exhibit Vistor Use Survey
Click here for the interview and scroll down on CBC's website for an interview with Leah Shaw at Salmon Arm's Mt. Ida Cemetery
Salmon Arm's Deborah Chapman is a history buff and the local heritage museum's curator and archivist.
So, it's not too surprising to see her poking around in a cemetery.
What is surprising is how popular her cemetery tours have become. Deborah has been offering these walks for more than 10 years with the next one planned for Sunday, October 6th.
The CBC's Leah Shaw got a private viewing of Deborah Chapman's favourite tombstones and the stories that lie beneath.
A Salmon Arm woman offers walking tours of the area's cemeteries. (Photo by Leah Shaw)
This fall we cleared out the Salmon Valley Homestead Cabin located beside the parking lot at R.J. Haney Heritage Village. Driving force Gary Cruikshank did an admirable job of organizing volunteers, staff, and me to sort artefacts and building materials and empty the log cabin. It had to be cleared out, according to Albert at Blackwell Building Movers, before the structure was moved to its permanent home northwest of Mt. Ida Church.
Albert was right. There was too much stuff squirreled away in the building. Three truck loads of reclaimed doors and one load of salvaged windows had to find another home. Artefacts came next. Small ones went to the museum, but there's still a pallet full more to be cleaned and sorted elsewhere.
The exercise is part of a long term vision. We're creating a homestead site as part of the development plan by heritage consultant Cuyler Page. A spot for the cabin was chosen. The stakes went in the ground. The Peterson barn from Broadview Rd. lies nearby waiting to be assembled. We will plant half a dozen fruit trees, a garden, and landscape the farm site. We'll finally have a permanent exhibit that tells the story of the early settlers of the Salmon Valley.
Names in the piece written by Rev. J.D. Hobden identified our little house. Others confirmed that the Reid property was purchased by the Pacey family, who sold it to Harold Minion in 1942. After the War, Harold married Joyce Critchley. In 1962 the couple put in a 1600 foot, Transport Canada approved airstrip at their own expense. Joyce saw a need. The community didn't have an airport. She wanted a place for emergency planes to land in Salmon Arm. The next owners were the Harringtons.
In 1985 the cabin came from “Minion Field”, part of the property owned by David and Mary Harrington. A couple of years ago Mary and I explored all the available written records. There was one line in Ernie Doe's book. A search of the United Church Archives at Vancouver School of Theology showed Calvert was in Salmon Arm between 1894 and 1897. He was responsible for building the Methodist Church on property recently purchased by the Smart Centres Inc.
When there's no paper record, Curators like to look for three confirming sources before accepting the oral record. When accepting an artefact with a story we also look at the big picture: the square, hand-hewn logs are fine examples of an early style of construction. The building is well over a hundred years old. It was built by a craftsman. There’s no doubt that this Salmon Valley home belongs on the Haney property, not in the village, but off to the side a little distant from the town we're creating.
A more recent story goes that the cabin was relocated to its present site in 1985 from Harbell Road, the route to the Salmon Valley. It was put together by Richard Tanaka and Don Byers. Stairs and a front porch were added.
Under General Manager Dave Harper's direction, a display of tools was installed inside. The public was invited in. Eventually, because the porch wasn't protected, its boards rotted. The public wasn't safe and the porch was removed. Suddenly, the front door was the perfect loading height for a standard pickup truck. In went doors, windows, and other treasures. Broken windows were boarded up. The space was dark.
Talk about moving the building began when Albert Blackwell offered to donate his equipment and services. He was familiar with the site. He'd moved the little house built for Polly and Ivan Pidhirney house from Fraser Ave NW to the Village in 2008. Albert bought into the vision.
Earlier this year we did a building inspection. Three logs on the west wall were in tough shape. Thanks to Duncan Morris and his crew at Traditional Log Homes Ltd. those logs have been replaced. Care was taken to make them look hand-hewn.
Once the move is done a new roof will go on. Thanks to a recent grant from the Shuswap Community Foundation, the Browne Johnson Legacy Fund and the Lloyd and Dorothy Family Endowment Fund, our Salmon Valley homestead will be protected from the elements. The building will be good for years.
Next year we'll set up that display. Who knows, maybe there'll even be chickens!
Without fanfare the Salmon Arm C.P.R. Station turned one hundred this November. What’s even more remarkable is that it opened the same way without mention. The public just walked in and began using the station. The building’s centenary is something to celebrate.
Like most of the communities that dot the C.P.R. mainline, Salmon Arm began as a railway centred town and the C.P.R. the reason behind the community’s establishment. The relationship between the Railway and town was symbiotic. In the early days, Salmon Arm farmers sold strawberries and tomatoes to the Railway’s dining car. Later on the relationship changed and local farmers became customers. The C.P.R. gave residents access to world markets by shipping their lumber and apples.
Looking at Henderson’s Gazetteer and Directory, the first railway station opened sometime around 1890. It served the community well enough until 1912, when the local Board of Trade requested the Board of Railway Commissioners erect a new station. According to a study of the station by Leslie S. Kozma in 1991, the original location of the first station, north of the tracks, was clumsy. It didn’t allow for town development on the same side of the tracks, near the station.
The plans for Salmon Arm’s station were customized for the community. The second floor apartment of the “standard plan” was removed from the drawings to create a single storey structure. Kozma’s study housed in the C.P.R. Archives describes the new station as reflecting “the size and importance of the city and the agricultural importance of the district.”
The contractor, Davies and Saunders of Vancouver, began working on the new station in late July 1913 relying on Salmon Arm’s Brayden and Johnson Sawmill to supply the lumber. Workers found 200 dead soldiers when they excavated the new foundation. Salmon Arm definitely wasn’t dry! The station was completed in October and opened a month later.
The new station was erected on the south side of the tracks. The property was landscaped and a park developed. According to Kozma, this fit with how C.P.R. viewed its presence in the community. “Parks were an integral aspect of C.P.R. stations throughout Canada and important to the marketing of its lands, since gardens were ‘living proof’ of the fertility of the lands available for colonization.”
In 1925 a polygonal frame bandstand was constructed on C.P.R. land thanks to a local initiative. The project was spearheaded by Postmaster J.L. Jackson and designed by cabinet maker and carpenter Jack Moir. Community fund raising made construction possible and the town gathered to hear its band. Sometime after 1952 the band stand was removed to create a paved parking lot.
The station sustained the community’s access to world markets as the railway remained the most practical way of shipping quantities of lumber and produce until the opening of the TransCanada Highway in 1961.
CPR Archives, RSR-127
Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
Railway Station Report
Source: Leslie S. Kozma, Pro-Man Consulting, Edmonton, AB
Last year well-respected Heritage Consultant Cuyler Page created a Development or Concept Plan for RJ Haney Heritage Village. This month his plan is under review. The Salmon Arm Museum’s Board of Directors is looking at its long range plan for the Village and prioritizing projects identified by Page.
Ever since I became involved at RJ Haney Heritage Village, I’ve felt there was a disconnect between the individual stories we tell and the presentation of the Village as a whole. More than twenty years after the first building was moved onto the site, we’re still developing a street. All involved know we’ve come a long way. It has been a journey. We’ve got a church and school, two early structures that were typically built when communities emerged. Early settlers yearned for a place to worship collectively. They also needed a place to educate their children. We’ve had great success getting groups involved to construct buildings that interest them. The Volunteer Firemen’s Association built a replica of the Fire Hall.
The Filling Station was moved to the site and reconstructed thanks to the Shuswap Chapter of the Vintage Car Club. They went on to build a scale model of the Lester and Thomson Garage.
Thanks to a family-owned business, a scale representation of the Newnes Blacksmith Shop was constructed. The Beemish Building completes the commercial street to date.
Two more houses were added to the Village in the last two years. The Laitinen log home and Fraser Avenue house give a feeling of density. Those buildings have yet to be restored and exhibits developed. Money is needed to complete these projects.
Other buildings are obviously missing from the village street. A general store with a contract for mail was the first commercial building constructed in Salmon Arm after the railway went through. Fortunately or unfortunately there are no plans to replicate the brewery and gambling house at the end of the wharf that predated the general store. Its story is entertaining, but the structure wasn’t meeting a community need. It was built as a temporary venture to amuse the railway workers passing through the area. The gambling house was also the location of Salmon Arm’s first recorded murder. Not an event that celebrates community growth!
So what priorities are set for development? Some won’t cost a lot of money. Others will happen as funding is secured:
The planning process has many Board Members and Advisory Committee Members excited. Senior staff are also sharing the vision. If we harness this excitement good things will happen. All of us look forward to the next twenty years. We’ll have created something to be proud of.
Charlie Turner above and Ralph Cosabaum holding the wrench at Salmon Arm's Power Plant, 1914.
Celebrating the Heritage Society of BC’s theme isn’t always easy. This month, the provincially determined theme is the Energy in BC – a Powerful Past, a Sustainable Future. Taking a cue, staff at the Salmon Arm Museum and RJ Haney Heritage Village are researching the community’s first diesel power plant. No one can argue. The topic has energy.
Luckily we can rely on the local newspaper, the Salmon Arm Observer, for early community history. The City of Salmon Arm engaged the engineering firm Dutcher, Maxwell and Co. of Vancouver to “install a power andlighting system to supply present needs, with all provision for extension to meet the demands of a young, thriving city.” After the brick building was constructed in 1912, a Swedish diesel engine was installed. Diesel was chosen for its convenience. The product, Star Fuel Oil, was readily available via the CP rail. The engine was 150 hp and able to light 200 street lights or hoods, a flexible street lighting system that was either suspended by goose neck fixtures or from messenger wires across the street. Edmund P. Kay Co installed the motor and apparatus. Assisted by others, W.F. Buchan installed the poles. The plant opened without much fanfare in October 1913.
In April, 1914 a City Engineer, Charlie Turner, was appointed. The pay was $250 a month. A hot debate over the applicants found out of town candidate B.S. Horton extremely qualified, but local lad Charlie Turner was favoured. Alderman Bruhn moved to accept C.V. Turner’s tender and the motion carried.
Although he only had a grade six education, family members describe Charlie as brilliant and self taught, learning mechanics without formal instruction. Grandson Doug Turner calls him “a mechanical genius. Given the training, my grandfather would have gone far.”
For a while the plant operated day and night, but the cost was prohibitive. Hours at the plant were cut back. “Sam McGuire lived up the street and used to wander down at night when Charlie was working. He taught the young engineer how to play crib. After a while, Sam said, ‘you know enough now Charlie, we’ll play for money.” Sam didn’t realize Charlie could remember every hand he ever played.
By midnight, Charlie was ready to go home. He interrupted the flow of electricity to Salmon Arm homes, flickering the lights at 10 to midnight, giving night owls a chance to fire up their coal oil lanterns. Some say City Engineers could be bribed to stay late when there was a dance on. Relatives have other stories. Niece-in-law Lorna Turner says the night Charlie’s son Ralph was born he kept the city’s lights on to help the doctor assist with the delivery. Lorna says that he was an honest man and offered to reimburse the city for diesel burned.
Check out the displays at the Mall at Piccadilly. Heritage Week runs February 20 to 25th. Call 250-832-5243 for details.
Just 18 years old, Dennys had left England two days before the Titanic sank. He booked passage on the Laurentic, another ship belonging to the White Star line. The Laurentic was two years older than the ill-fated Titanic and no one was making any promises that she was unsinkable.
Dennys wrote a daily journal. The collection is one of the many gems held in the archives at Haney Heritage Village’s Salmon Arm Museum. The chronicle begins in Liverpool boarding the ship that was to take Dennys and travelling companion Bryan Heaney to Canada. The two were headed to Salmon Arm to their farm on Hart Road.
In the first diary Dennys paints a story of packing all day on April 12th, saying goodbye to friends and parents, catching a train to Liverpool, and then a tug a waiting vessel. The Laurentic started down the Mersey River at 6:30 pm at half speed, 9 knots per hour.
The next day, Sunday, April 14th Dennys reports “the sea is swelly, not rough.” He “begins to feel a bit queer and doesn’t go down to lunch or dinner.” He spends his time reading on a deck chair with Bryan.
Things go from bad to worse the next day. Dennys is unable to go down for his meals. The sea is rough and choppy. The ship begins to pitch. He sleeps most of the day in the cabin and feels so bad at night that he cannot undress. Bryan isn’t in any better shape.
From Monday to Wednesday, the two are seasick, but by Thursday they feel quite alright again and start to enjoy their food. They notice a lot of icebergs, twenty in view at once at 5 pm. The next morning they see a “pretty one about half a mile away.”
By Friday, the two travelers are once again cheerful. Dennys writes letters home.
On Saturday the 20th, they spot Halifax but the ship is turned away and anchors in the channel. Passengers are told to be ready, but kept in awful suspense all day, not knowing when they are to land.
“We hear all sorts of rumours about the wreck of the Titanic. Finally hearing she sank, 400 miles from the coast, in 1½ hours, having struck an iceberg. The hole being torn 90 feet long. That there were 1600 people drowned. I hear we had just missed one ourselves on Wednesday night only by a few yards.”
“We find out that the Marconi operator heard of the wreck of the Titanic on Monday or Tuesday and lay low about it. What are large ships in God’s Almighty hands?”
The passengers disembark on the 21st after waiting 31 hours at anchor. Dennys comments, that it does not feel like a Sunday.
“We had a memorial service on account of the Titanic. …..also wrote letter home but did not finish it.”
A hundred years later, it seems wise that Dennys decided to keep the news of his proximity to the disaster from his parents. They’d only have worried.
Fortunately for researchers, the diaries of Alec Dennys continue for another fourteen years, detailing life in Salmon Arm. The Titanic, however, is not mentioned again.
Graphic image of the Laurentic courtesy Google Images:
“It is what we do,” said Ted McTaggart, when I got concerned about the expense. Ted’s argument was logical.
The story being constructed is an interesting one on many levels. It features a first generation Canadian, born in the settlement of Shuswap, near Chase, BC to naturalized, Chinese born citizens, Ah Chew and Lau Sze Louie.
Given the name Wee Lee, the eldest Louie son went by William at school. When his father died in 1906, William had to quit school. As the eldest child, he was expected to support the family. William found work at the Adams River Lumber Company.
Researching this exhibit storyline has been gratifying. Over the years many pieces have been written and rewritten and key facts have changed. The facts needed checking. When I visited Captain Louie’s son Allen in Vancouver last February, I was given access to a treasure of family photos and negatives and spent the day scanning. Allen also gave me a family history written by his cousin, Shirley Louie. From the family’s perspective, her account was accurate and other literature was going to be verified against it!
William had an interesting life. He owned and operated his own boats, the Sea Tractor and Tillicum. In preparation for his adventures on Little and Big Shuswap Lakes, Louie earned his engineer’s and master’s papers. He took the helm of the Crombie, Andover, and CR Lamb for his employers. Then he opened a gas station in Kamloops and joined the Board of Trade and Kamloops Rotary Club. A little later he purchased the Lamb from his former employer, Shuswap Transportation Company Ltd. with a plan to serve the residents of the Shuswap.
But there’s more to the story. William was a successful and trusted businessman who integrated into Kamloops society. He served the community as a School Board Trustee. He also did his bit to change the plight of all citizens who were either born or naturalized in Canada but repeatedly described as “Chinese”and denied the basic rights of citizenship. Louie may not have realized it, but he was an activist.
Although it appeared the days of discrimination were diminishing, Chinese Canadians could not vote. In 1934 William gave a talk to his Rotary Club, lobbying for support for the idea of enfranchisement, or the right to vote, for Chinese Canadians. His thesis was based on both fairness and good business, arguing that trade with China would increase if this law changed.
“A person of Chinese origin, born in BC whose parents were naturalized British subjects, owning property, paying taxes and having served overseas in the Great War is deprived of the franchise,” he said. “Furthermore, Chinese in the Army could vote in 1916 but were disenfranchised after returning home [from the Great War].”
WilliamLouie paved the way for another member of the Rotary Club of Kamloops. Canadian born Peter Wing became a member in 1942. Wing was later to hold the office of Mayor, the first in Canada for a person of Chinese heritage.
“Billie Louie, the Last of the Shuswap Riverboat Captains” exhibit officially opens June 23rd. Peter Blacklock has written a play that also features Louie and is the summer’s production at the SASCU Presents Haney Dinner Theatre Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. It is going to be a great summer!
Source: Kamloops Inland Sentinel, January 30, 1934.
Knucwetwecw: Helping One Another
This past May's Annual General Meeting was typical. It was a time to remember the highlights of the season.
President Doug Adams began his address noting it was his 24th year on board. He presented a long list of the organization’s accomplishments. The society was turning forty-nine: time to think about the nearly half century that has passed and the half century to come.
Bonnie Thomas was the guest speaker. Bonnie is the Executive Director at the Mary Thomas Cultural Centre and Heritage Sanctuary. She's the youngest daughter of the late Dr. Mary Thomas and described as the "carrier of her mother's knowledge".
Mary Thomas was honoured by the BC Museum's Association with its Significant Citizen award in 1991 and the subject of two exhibits at the Salmon Arm Museum in 1991 and 2000. Mary believed in promoting understanding between cultures. Her dream was to establish a teaching centre on her land on the delta of the Salmon River. Luckily, Mary's knowledge and passion has been inherited by Bonnie and her siblings.
Bonnie impressed the Salmon Arm membership with a recounting of activities, partnerships established, and events held at the Centre. A slide show testified to the good work the cultural organization is doing.
When she was finished, Bonnie opened the floor to questions. The Shuswap Trail Alliance and its work at the Centre was discussed. The same Trail Alliance has constructed trails throughout our community and at RJ Haney Heritage Village. That organization has a plan to connect the Mary Thomas Heritage Sanctuary and the Village with a system of trails.
Enthusiastic hikers will be able to hike from one cultural organization to the other.
At the meeting's end I reminded the group of its policy history. Several years ago the Salmon Arm Board passed a motion to stop accepting new collections of First Nation' artefacts. The intent was to direct potential donors and collections to the Mary Thomas Heritage Sanctuary.
On Tuesday, May 15th two baskets were turned over to Bonnie Thomas for her organization's use. Mary Thomas was believed to have created one of them.
Bonnie's eyes filled with tears at the unexpected "repatriation." She explained that each woman placed her own stamp on her woven creations....that the style, materials and patterns varied with each individual. Bonnie believed the basket could very well have been her mother's handiwork.
The return was a great way to end the evening and has this curator wondering about future connections and collaborations between the two sister organizations. I wonder how we will assist each other in the future?
June was a busy month. We officially opened the exhibit “Billie Louie, the Last of the Shuswap Riverboat Captains. Although the weather didn’t cooperate, there was a good turnout. Special guests were Kamloops residents Ken and Marilynn House. Ken is the historian with the Rotary Club of Kamloops and he was interested in Billie Louie for his Kamloops connections. Louie was a Charter Member of the Rotary Club.
The hors d’oeuvres and local wines were a hit. Ovino Winery donated the wine and Table 24 graciously supplied the appetizers. Wontons with a special ginger dipping sauce were my favourite offerings! Allen Louie, Billie’s son, approved.
Unbiased accounts say those that gathered at the ribbon cuttingwere fascinated by the story and exhibit. Two invitees were overheard talking about the Louie at PJ’s Restaurant the next morning!
The story, needless to say, is worth repeating and the exhibit worth seeing!
Staff photo of the ribbone cutting:
MP Colin Mayes and Mayor Nancy Cooper
Duncan Myers photo, opening the exhibit
The next highlight of the month was a regional meeting.
As the regional representative of the Archives Association of BC, I’m tasked with organizing an annual meeting. Twenty four archivists and museum people gathered at Armstrong on June 25th to hear Barbara Bell, Liz Ellison, and Shannon Jorgensen talk about their work recording oral histories. The women are interviewing the daughters and sons of pioneers and had just completed an intensive oral history course. They were eager to share the tips they’d picked up.
The presentations made me realize there was yet another task we should be doing at the archives, going after the seniors that weren’t in the category when volunteers from the Salmon Arm Museum conducted interviews in the 1980s.
We have been keeping the early interviews safe. Staff have been working on digitizing cassette tape interviews. David, a museum staff member, copied the taped interviews this past winter, converting them to digital files. Then this spring another museum volunteer started retyping the paper copies of the same interviews, creating searchable Word files. As researchers request the files, we’ll be able to convert the paper copies to pdf and the wav files to MP3 files. Access to the interviews will be increased and a second back up copy will be stored safely, off site.
Attending the AABC regional meeting by special invitation were two representatives of the Salmon Arm Branch of the Okanagan Historical Society, Diane Ambil and Rosemary Wilson. Rosemary was wearing two hats, one as the OHS president and one as a Salmon Arm Museum board member.
The Salmon Arm Branch of the OHS has been working on interviewing our seniors and I am hopeful the two organizations can work together to create a resource that will be treasured by future researchers.
July has been a month of catch up. The volunteers carry out their regular work. Janice Darbyson has taken on the task of indexing the Salmon Arm Observer for 1949, as all of Denis Marshall's work has now been inputted into the ACCESS database. She finds it a challenge, but I am convinced she's up to it. Her concern is the same one Denis had two years ago: the size of the paper has exploded so there's so much more information to extract. How much can one volunteer do?
Janice is typing from the original, thanks to Salmon Arm Observer's Rick Proznick. He trusts the volunteers and staff in the archives department to take good care of his original documents one year at a time. The Publisher is a pretty bright guy. He knows that if he cooperates with the archives department, we'll help him whenever he wants a significant fact from a specific year.
Developing a relationship, passed on through Denis' work, has been fruitful. When I asked Rick for help with an exhibit next year, marking the 15th anniversary of the 1998 Mt. Ida Fire, he was immediately positive. The Salmon Arm Museum could print any of the digital images needed. The Salmon Arm Observer would be happy to partner with us.
When I asked for another kind of help, Rick had to consult Editor Tracy Hughes. I needed James Murray to re-photograph selected images from the fire. I wanted to exhibit something positive, not just the negative. The focus should be rebuilding, replanting, and recovery.
I knew the fire wasn't the first and probably won't be the last. Ernie Doe's Centennial History of Salmon Arm marked an earlier fire in the valley. One hundred and eight years ago the Salmon Valley was under attack.
From the Inland Sentinel July 13, 1894:
"A disastrous fire started July 7th on Mount Ida, and destroyed valuable timber covering the area from the J. Bolton to the J. Allan properties. . . "
The reporter said:
"No one was to blame for the fire. Some smouldering logs were suddenly revived by the exceeding high wind from the south, and the timber was as dry as matchwood, which burnt with appalling quickness. The whole of the valley from about eight miles back to the front was a dense mass of flames and smoke, so that the settlers were unable to get to each other's aid. . ."
And the following week, July 20th, another piece was published:
"On Saturday last our quiet little valley was visited by one of the largest forest fires that has been known since its settlement. A fire which had been smouldering for some weeks upon the lower end of Mr. J. Ross' ranch (which is situated upon the east side of the river), was fanned into a blaze and began to spread. It soon reached the residence of Mr. Ross, and but for the timely aid of a few neighbors would have burnt his buildings. From there is started on its course of destruction, sweeping everything before it, except Mr. Bolton's buildings . . .”
The following were the principal sufferers:
Mr. Fred McGregor, two and a half acres of potatoes; Mr. Wallace, a barn and crops; Mr. Raby, a house and crops; Mr. Merrill, barn, fence and outbuildings; Mr. Rumble's barn, fences and four acres of potatoes, Mr. W. Shaw, house, barn, implements, fences and crops."
The differences between the two fires are clear. In 1894 there were no helicopters or Marten Mars water bombers on the scene, no RCMP to guard property, no Retired Brigadier General Peter Kilby to devise an evacuation plan, and no firefighters and trucks brought in from other parts of the province. There wasn't a Salmon Arm Observer. There also wasn't a James Murray to photograph the destruction.
The 2013 exhibit will be a celebration. Thank you Tracy for agreeing to let James record the difference fifteen years can make.
With summer nearing its end, and fall just around the corner, I look back at my venture through the Archives and wonder where the last three months of my life have gone.
When I first drove through the Village Gate, I had no idea what to expect. I only knew that I was excited, in an apprehensive sort of way. I was facing the unknown, taken out of city life and thrust into the proverbial wilderness with quaint homesteads in place of sky scrapers. I met with Deborah and was quickly taken in by her dedication and vast knowledge of the city we live in. It wasn’t the first time I had spoke with her. Our first meeting was several years ago, when I was still of school age. I visited the archives back when I was writing a paper for school and asked for her assistance. She graciously obliged.
From then on I became more aware of the value of the archives and of having someone knowledgeable enough around to provide access to our community’s past.
Some days I would come in to work, find a new collection and wonder what else there was to the story. Perhaps it was a few scraps of correspondence between a brother and sister during the Great War or maybe it would be a photo of a particular part of town eighty some years ago. If I asked, Deborah could tell me all the who’s, what’s and where’s that I ever desired to know, and then some.
Eventually I was given the task of cataloguing and soon learned how valuable historical preservation is. The items that we get in at the Museum are people’s memories in every physical form imaginable, from photo collections to postcards, letters to tax records and wedding dresses to silverware and beyond. These things are kept here, and stored to Museum standards for the benefit of present and future generations because once something is gone, it isn’t coming back . . . like a shattered teapot. That was my next task.
It was a stressful day when that teapot came into the archives in pieces. Though it may seem strange to be troubled by someone else’s shattered porcelain, it was sad for me to know that that pot was something that could never be replaced or returned to its original state. I asked if I could repair it and Deborah turned to me, gave me some acid free archival glue and said go for it. So I did. I managed to repair it and it is now on display, though I won’t say where.
With that task finished, Deborah began assigning me anything and everything, giving me a crash course on all aspects of Museum work. We revamped current exhibits, created new ones, produced new fonds collections, implemented more modern museum software, catalogued numerous artifacts, and in general, tried to keep our heads above the water. With people and artifacts arriving continually there was always someone new to talk with and something old to explore.
It was thrilling to be able to provide that kind of service to community, if only for a short while. I loved being able to help visitors find their family memories here, be it a simple photo scan or a more extensive database search.
I hope that the archives continue to thrive because there are stories to be found here, as long as there is someone looking for them.
Ed Peterson, Erik Anderson (Wessman), Anton Swanberg, and Ed's brother Ivor Peterson came to Salmon Arm November 11, 1911. The four worked for a winter for Jim Evans cutting wood. In 1912 Ed and his associates cleared 40 acres of raw land for Sam Greenwood. Each of the four men were paid in-kind, receiving a ten acre plot of raw land on Broadview in exchange for their labour. Ed's ten acres were his start as a farmer.
According to his obituary, Ed set out his first fruit trees in1913, but didn't go into full time fruit farming until 1928. Eventually the Peterson orchards became the largest in the area.
The expansion against adversity was all about location, location, location. The orchards on Peterson farmland proved resilient when it came to extremes in weather. Because the land is somewhat protected, the effect of the deep freeze of 1949-50 was minimized on Peterson property. According to Ed's surviving son Alf, the family lost 40 acres in trees out of the 110 to 120 acres they had under production.
The Peterson farm is one of two commercially viable orchards in the area. In recent years Laura Peterson expanded the business to market fruit pies.
Alf Peterson sitting in the Museum display at Memory Lane during the Fall Fair.
Photo by Nancy Peterson
Attending the BCMA conference at Kamloops in October was a highlight of the year for this museum professional. The program was packed. There was no spare time. It began with keynote speaker Jack Lohman, CEO, Royal BC Museum, Chairman of the National Museum in Warsaw, Poland, and Professor in Museum Development at the Bergen National Academy of the Arts, Norway. Professor Lohman’s message fit well with the conference theme of rendezvous. He talked about collaborations, coming together, and the need for archives and museums to work together.
Manny Jules, former Chief of the Kamloops Indian Band, Elder, and artist, addressed the gathering on Thursday. A consummate storyteller, Jules spoke about art, his world travels, and indigenous people of the Americas. Then he skillfully brought us home to the confluence of the Thompson Rivers.
Sessions were presented by colleagues from all over the province. The presentation from Leah Best, Executive Director at the Nelson and District Museum, Archives, Art Gallery, and Historical Society, was inspirational. Her society operates Touchstones Museum and Gallery.
Like most of us in the museum field, the Nelson staff and board have consciously created exhibits that fit with their organization’s purposes and mandate, making sure exhibits and programming reflect a vision. The staff members at Touchstones have also been charged with making the cultural centre relevant to current residents.
The Nelson Cares Society puts out an annual report card on the health of the community. The report card is a performance gauge that reflects the state of community health. Leah Best said her staff designed exhibits around the identified issues in the report card - like low cost housing, childcare, food, climate change, and transportation. But how did her staff translate the identified issues into an exhibit?
Best outlined several projects. One issue explored was homelessness. Nelson, like many Canadian communities, has a shortage of affordable housing. Staff designed an exhibit that compared house sizes at different points in history. Another exhibit compared diets and caloric intake from around the world. Yet another explored transportation and carbon footprint.
Like the museum at Nelson, we’re all challenged to make our museums matter, to be relevant to our residents. The obvious question now is: how will Best’s inspiration translate into action at the Salmon Arm Museum? We’ll just have to wait and see. I’m sure it will be something quite inspiring.
Note: The Nelson Cares Society can be found at http://nelsoncares.ca/about/
Its mission statement is:
Through community collaboration and service excellence, Nelson CARES Society works toward a socially just society by providing programs and initiatives in advocacy, housing, employment, support services, and environmental stewardship.
Nelson CARES Society aims to be a reflection of the community it envisions.
Anne uses the Robert Chenhall system of nomenclature. She refers to the book that we call the Museum’s Bible. It makes sure that all catalogued items are described the same. If Anne wants to tell me just how many gas cans she’s processed, she can have it called up on the database.
Anne creates sheets that describe the artifact, its place in a category, and then accessions or numbers it. She records its dimensions, donor information, and material makeup. After Anne is finished describing an artifact, it can be easily picked up off a shelf with other similar artifacts. Her job is essential to the work we do at the museum.
But that isn’t the only job Anne Grant does. When the volunteers Lise, Janice, and the two Rosemarys voiced concerns about working conditions and the lack of remuneration and birthday acknowledgements, they turned to Anne. “We need a Union!” the group muttered in unison. To the other volunteers, Anne looked like a natural leader.
“I can do that,” Anne said cheerfully with a big smile on her face, “I’ve been a Shop Steward before.”
“MMM,” I thought a little anxiously, “a dividing line in the department.” I was management. They were the more valuable volunteers. They more than tripled my productivity, could take days off whenever the mood struck, and never, never felt guilty. Sometimes they even gave me attitude, like over this union thing.
So the volunteers organized. They organized me. I now track their birthdays. Anne tracks absenteeism due to long term illness. She gets everyone to sign a card. The volunteers support each other.
When the New Year struck a year ago, we negotiated raises. When I was offered two percent cost of living raise, I turned to the volunteers. They were worth more because they worked for free. I offered them a fifty percent raise in pay. There was silence. Anne piped up.
“Fifty percent of nothing is still nothing,” she said.
There were rumours of a work to rule and, horror of horrors, a strike.
I’m not really sure if they accepted my offer of a percentage increase, but this hiccup in the operation, like all things, passed partly in credit to Anne’s very positive nature.
As the New Year approaches again, the cost of living issue will be raised. How do you compensate someone who in two years of volunteering has catalogued 1,271 items? There’s no price tag on productivity, but the contribution is enormous.
Thank you Anne and the other members of the volunteer union. I couldn’t do my job without you!
Great News! The Salmon Arm Museum’s archives room is the recipient of the 2011 Terry Reksten Memorial Award! Administered by the Friends of the British Columbia Archives, the annual award is given to a British Columbia public archive with less than three full time archivists.
Salmon Arm Museum staff applied to the adjudication committee last June, noting the need to purchase acid free envelopes for a very special donation. Last year, over the Christmas holiday, almost three decades of Salmon Arm Observer photographs were donated. The gift was an unexpected Christmas present.
Rick Proznick, Publisher of the Salmon Arm Observer, handed forty-two boxes of graphic images. The images represented the Observer’s last twenty-six years of print making from the mid seventies to the new millennium. In 2001 the Observer went digital and no longer developed traditional photographs, making the gift a last of its kind.
Thanks to the donation of one board member and the work of another, Rosemary Blair and Rosemary Wilson, the collection has already been re-boxed into acid free boxes. The next step is to match the images to the newspaper publication, glean any information from the newspaper, catalogue each photograph, and place each one in its own acid free envelope. It is a big job, but the staff and volunteers at the Salmon Arm Museum are up to the challenge. It’ll make quite the winter project.
The Terry Reksten Memorial Award is $1,000 and will start the project nicely. Much more, however, is needed. If you are interested in contributing financially or would like to donate elbow grease, call the archives at 250-832-5289. We’d love to hear from you.
Photo: Rosemary Wilson moving the reboxed photographs to the Ernie Doe Archives Room at the Salmon Arm Museum/Haney Heritage Village.
Terry Reksten, a member of the Friends of the British Columbia Archives, was well known for bringing the history of British Columbia alive through her books, including the best sellers "More English Than the English", "The Dunsmuir Saga", and "The Empress Hotel". Reksten, who was also a founding member of the Victoria Hallmark Society, passed away in 2001 at the age of 59. Her last book, "An Illustrated History of British Columbia" now another best seller, was published just two weeks before her death.
Terry's family asked that the Friends of the British Columbia Archives establish a memorial fund in her name to honour Terry and the work she did for preservation of the history and legacy of this province, and to endow an award for outstanding contributions to archives in British Columbia. Through several significant donations, the fund has grown rapidly. It has now reached an amount large enough to support an annual grant to assist local and community archives.
Bonnie Thomas did something amazing on October 5th.When she stood up at the annual community meeting to accept a grant from the Shuswap Community Foundation, she spoke about community. She was accepting funding for a ride-on mower for the Mary Thomas Cultural Centre and Heritage Sanctuary. The grant to the Heritage Sanctuary was a first. The Shuswap Community Foundation had never received an application nor given money to any Secwepemc group.
With grace and ease, Bonnie talked about her mother, the much respected late Dr. Mary Thomas. “Wealth,” her mother used to say, "is measured by how much is given away."
With that simple sentence, Bonnie connected the community of grant recipients, donors, and guests. We were celebrating the annual awards to community charities. The award was part of a chain of events. It started with one question from this Curator when I was visiting Bonnie at the Sanctuary. We were talking about a new display at Haney Heritage Village. I was wearing two hats. The second was as the Chair of the Grant Selection Committee. All the committee members are on the lookout for community groups that do good work, so I asked Bonnie what the Heritage Sanctuary needed most.
Bonnie thought about the question. She talked to Louis, her brother, and colleague at the centre. Louis had been mowing and weed-wacking all summer with borrowed mowers and trimmers. Band members were generous, but the centre needed its own ride-on mower. Anyone visiting the site could see the proper tools were needed to do the job, so I approached the Salmon Arm Museum's Board of Directors and it agreed to sponsor the project.
But what did Bonnie Thomas do that was so amazing on October 5th? In the true spirit of community, she brought a gift. It was a beaded eagle feather, a treasured gift, wrapped in a beautiful scarf. You could have heard a pin drop when she gave the feather to the donor responsible for the grant, Bill Douhaniuk. It was a gift for the giver, drawing a new circle in our community.
Thank you Bonnie!
Former owner and publisher of the Salmon Arm Observer, Denis Marshall passed away on October 8, 2011. That day we lost a valuable friend at the Salmon Arm Museum.
When Denis returned to Salmon Arm in the 1990s, he took out a membership at the Salmon Arm Museum. Being a member has rights and privileges. One is to help with spring clean up. We called Denis. He came. It was pretty obvious that cleaning wasn't Denis' idea of preserving history.
So Denis joined OHS and began editing their publications, which was more in keeping. It was familiar ground for Denis. When he started publishing his books through OHS, the Salmon Arm Museum was encouraged to ask OHS for help with special projects. Over the last decade revenues from book sales purchased many things for the Ernie Doe Archives Room.
After his fourth book, Denis had a brilliant idea. He offered to index the Salmon Arm Observer, to record in point form the events that shaped our community. He wanted to index 1907 to 1950. Denis made it to 1948.
Behind Denis is a secretarial pool of volunteers typing his index into a database. The "girls" include Rosemary Blair, Marion Williams, Janice Darbyson, and Rosemary Wilson and they've made it to 1940. We're better able to serve our patrons at the museum because Denis has created this index.
About a month ago I decided to write Denis a note, telling him what he meant to the Museum, to me and to Salmon Arm. Through the proceeds of his books, he had injected the cash needed to purchase a machine to read the Observer newspaper, expand the archives, and create an excellent work environment. His books were impeccably researched and will provide storylines for future exhibits. He identified people in photographs and turned over his hard copies.
In short Denis had done so much more than me.
That day Denis broke one of his own rules after he opened his mail. He called me at suppertime. He was touched by my card and said gruffly that writing the history and indexing the Observer were his life's work.
Thank you Denis.
There’s snow at RJ Haney Heritage Village and the City continues to keep the roadway plowed and sanded. Volunteers and staff come and go daily. Most years staff and volunteers use the quiet season to catch up on backlogs accumulated over the summer. This year isn’t typical though. The archives room is a busy place and new projects have been started. Seven volunteers are working on projects. One person catalogues new acquisitions. Three others are indexing the Salmon Arm Observer. Another works assigning key terms to photographs. Then there’s the tax record project…and a sixth volunteer is indexing those records to 1958.
Two paid staff members on a Job Creation Project are working on scanning negatives and photographs, creating an online exhibit based on one of our exhibits, and digitizingtaped interviews from the 1980s. Sometimes the 350 square foot room is just too noisy a place to think!
New to the scene is a recent history graduate, James Fensom. Staff and volunteers have welcomed James and his interest in the Salmon Arm Observer project. He is matching the newspaper publication dates and photograph cut lines, the tag that appears below each photo, to corresponding images. Not only will this make cataloguing the images easier, it will make more information accessible to the public. James is working on 1974….which is a few years before he was born! The other volunteers smile, though, and tease him. He’s working on “recent” history.
The volunteers have appointed their own shop steward to keep things running smoothly and the curator/archivist in line. Anne Grant comes with experience. She's held the postiionin her former employment and, although petite, has a mighty presence in the archives room. She coordinates schedules, vacations, and appointments. She also makes sure management doesn't take advantage of "her" volunteers. Recently General Manager Susan Mackie asked volunteers to decorate Marjorie's Tea Room for the Christmas party December 11th. Archives volunteer Lise Ouimet did the job last year with Museum staff Pam Tompson. This year Pam's taking it easy. She's off on medical leave, recovering from surgery.
Then Lise reconsidered. She loves to decorate and the Christmas season. "I'll come on Friday at noon." Friday is Lise's day off.
Thank you Tammy, David, Lise, Marion, Anne, Janice, James, the newbie, and the two Rosemarys.