The new exhibit "Billie Louie, the Last of the Shuswap Riverboat Captains" opens in June, 2012. It features a first generation Canadian, born in the settlement of Shuswap, near Chase, BC.
William Louie's life was nothing short of exceptional. Given the name Wee Lee by his parents Ah Chew and Lau Sze, he went by William at school. When his father died in 1906, William Louie quit school. He was the eldest son and expected to support the family, so he found work with the Adams River Lumber Company.
Louie was a risk taker. He owned and operated his own boats,the Sea Tractor and Tillicum. In preparation for his adventures on Little and Big Shuswap Lakes, he earned his engineer’s and master’s papers. He also took the helm of the Crombie, Andover, and CR Lamb for his employers. Then he opened a gas station in Kamloops, joined the Board of Trade, and was a charter member of the Kamloops Rotary Club.
In 1933, Louie purchased the twenty-six year old CR Lamb from his former employer, Shuswap Transportation Company Ltd. He knew the boat well and was its Captain since 1928. Louie knew that the Canadian Pacific Railway had taken much of the transport and cartage business along the south sides of the South Thompson River and Shuswap Lake. Louie was an astute businessman, who also knew that the north shore of the lake was still not served and thought that he could combine cartage and a fuel transport enterprise with organized excursions to create a viable business.
The exhibit explores Louie's life as a successful and trusted businessman who served many communities. He was a captain, entrepreneur, School Board Trustee, Rotarian, husband, and father. Louie also did his bit to change the plight of all citizens, who were either born or
naturalized in Canada but labeled “Chinese” and denied the basic rights of citizenship. Louie may not have realized it, but he was also an activist.
This exhibit runs until February 2014.
The Story of Ruth begins October 5, 1921. The gate swings shut at Asterfield, the farm and residence of Annie Florence and Arthur Adair Brooke. Doctor Connolly arrives on the scene. At 11:30 pm, he examines Mrs. Brooke, sees that his patient is in advanced stages of labour, and decides to take her to the General Hospital in town.
The event that is about to take place is unplanned. With three adult sons, days on the Brooke farm revolve around farming and animals. For more than a decade, life in Salmon Arm is settled. Then a remarkable thing happens - a small miracle. Baby Ruth Adair Brooke is born. Although old enough to be grandparents, her parents are delighted.
The birth takes place on the 6th. Annie gives Ruth her maiden name and Arthur chooses the middle name. Arthur sets to work recording Ruth’s story in small-format books. He paints watercolours like modern parents snap digital images, which places Ruth in the Salmon Valley landscape.
This exhibit contains twenty-eight digitized images from a collection of over 324 tiny paintings. Additional images are located on site in Marjorie's Tea room. The display runs until February 2013.