When the City of Salmon Arm Grant-in-Aid Committee awarded $5,500 to construct the Demers and Tillman Pool Hall and Barbershop in the Montebello Building, curatorial staff thought it would be smooth sailing. The contractors were in place. The budget was realistic.

Leading up to the project officially starting, two volunteers, Anne Kirkpatrick and Ken Schultis, had re-milled the wainscoting to match the wainscoting in the Broadview School. The tongue and groove was reshaped to form a closer overlap, becoming a true V, more historically accurate than the modern U- groove. The wood was also acclimatized to the space, standard museum practice for working on heritage buildings.

I rolled up my sleeves and specially formulated stains for the old growth Douglas fir wainscoting and flooring. This curator loves introducing historically accurate varieties of stains in the dioramas. The hope is that people visiting will not automatically assume the shops were built all on the same day by the same crew. In real life, these buildings were not. The wainscoting in the Butcher shop, for example, is redder, typical of the early Edwardian taste in varnish. Wainscoting in this next diorama, a pool hall, needed to be browner, smokier, and feel like the “Club” or men’s spa that it was supposed to be.

By March 2020 the roads to the Village were drying up and the prepared wood was ready to stain. Our contractor’s spouse, Nancy, suggested I get a volunteer in to help. It would speed up the process. Luckily Dennis Zachernuk had worked for a furniture refinisher and a cabinet maker in his teens and was available. He had heard about Haney’s Volunteer rewards program and was counting on some sort of recognition. The fall meal was always fun and he knew that Deb Sturgeon put a banquet together for the special volunteers who donated a lot of hours.

Then the unimaginable happened. The pandemic was declared and the village closed.

The contractor working on the diorama was sent home, as were the nine volunteers in the archives, and staff. The project was delayed.

So Dennis carried on. He stained and varnished the wainscoting, coming in for hot chocolate breaks when he felt it was time. Lunch was with the curator and a game of dominoes ensued. He told anyone who would listen that he was voluntold to do the job.

When Dennis was finished the wainscoting, he painted the ceiling in the space a smoky off-white. The space was prepped. Later that summer, an offer too good to refuse came along. Shuswap Park Holdings (2013) Ltd. offered the services of two highly trained carpenters. The deal was two instead of one because of the multiplier effect. Two men working together can do the work of three.

The wainscoting and floors were installed. Dennis returned to stain the floor and this curator oiled it. Last year I’d done the Butcher Shop so I felt qualified. Tung oil smells nice and is historically accurate.

After the oil cured for a month, the pool table was brought over from storage. Staff put it together. The levelling happened when the Ragman, Peter Jones, was next in town. He sent his son, Matthew, to repair the bumpers and install a new felt.

After a feature in the local paper, several people came forward with gifts of artefacts. Every 1913 barber shop needs a deer mount - especially if the barber also worked as a part-time big game guide.

Through our contact Cuyler Page, the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives offered a cabinet for the barber’s work station, no strings attached. Perfect, but marble was needed for its top. It was a very dark exhibit. Floor to ceiling wainscoting 12 feet high!

It was time to see if our contractor could come back to the site. He’d been working on a kitchen for someone else. Ian Tait agreed to create the mouldings just like the Pool Hall inspirational photograph taken in 1913. When Ian was done, Dennis was called back in for staining and varnishing duties.

In the meantime Greg Osadchuk, retired teacher and former photographer with the Province newspaper, got to work on the digital images. He loves to clean up historical scratches and make our images pop! Greg’s images were printed and mounted on signboard. Cuyler Page cut the two figures out creating a decoupage effect that has to be seen to be appreciated.

A former board member and still a friend to the museum, Dave Harper, agreed to make one of the images for the pool hall’s “Wall of Fame.” Just like the original photograph.

We weren’t able to find the lights for the pool table like the photograph so Neil Sutcliffe got to work rolling metal. Neil carefully rolled the metal, painting it the English Green that matched the pool table felt.

Staff Bruce Mackie installed the sink and worked on the barber’s chair donated by the Sicamous Museum when it moved to smaller quarters. The aim is to have a barber in residence for special events. Who wouldn’t want a shave and a haircut?

When you visit next year, we’ll have so much to show you!

Who have I missed?

  • Dorothy McIntosh for her spittoon.
  • Bob Van der Meer for his 4 point deer mount and 2 spittoons – a pool hall needs a few!
  • Helen Stoddard for her curio cabinet that holds the antique items for “sale” like tobacco tins.
  • Bruce Hlina for his pool balls!
  • The Canoe Seniors Centre and the Lions Club for donating a Brunswick Balke Collendar pool table, the same brand that Demers and Tillman had in1913!
  • Sharon Adair for designing the Brunswick Balke Collendar banners.
  • Doug Hlina for building the sign desk.
  • The adjudicators of the Grants-in-Aid program at the Shuswap Community Foundation for believing in this project!