When President Norma Harisch came to the Village on business, she was masked and not taking any chances. She was on a mission to stretch a large canvas for the Lingford and Honey Studio diorama. Norma is an artist and agreed to paint a photographer’s backdrop to give the studio life.

With her business concluded, Norma said she’d like to see what had been accomplished over the last year. Norma is the President of the Salmon Arm Museum and Heritage Association so, if anyone, she has a right to check up on activities at the Village. Norma has socially distanced herself from us since the pandemic was declared, following the rules by only coming to the Village when absolutely needed to conduct museum business. The stuff only presidents can do.

Our first stop was the pool hall and barbershop. Norma seemed impressed even though everything was covered with sheets. I pointed out the door I had refinished for the project. The wainscoting and flooring too – finished by a volunteer who is in my personal bubble. The combination is quite lovely. It is the ultimate male spa! The pool table has been restored by a billiard company. The barber’s chair – a deaccession from the Sicamous Museum - was sitting pretty. A working counter – from the Greater Vernon and District Museum and Archives – has been given a granite counter holding barbering artefacts. We have towels for our customers’ shaves and two full scale graphic images of the 1914 pool hall owner and his partner’s daughter Pearl. A former board member made the pool racks and hung stovepipe and two scoring systems.

Then we headed to the Observer. Greeting us was a full size Egnar Sandahl, the pressman, standing behind the counter. Egnar presents as a slight young man. He was created from the best of the archival images I had to work with and his hand hovers over the counter.

Norma made one comment. “Isn’t the counter low?” She asked. Norma has a great eye.

“It is supposed to be,” I responded. “Most people were shorter in 1911.”

Egnar continued to smile. He wasn’t offended.

I reflected on how, when I sit in an antique rocker or chair, the first thing I notice is that they are built lower to the ground. I use my body as a measuring stick. I am the average height between men and women in Canada today.

When creating the exhibit, exhibit designer Cuyler Page and I had a lot of trouble lining up Egnar with the counter after deciding on its 32-inch height. Egnar’s scanned image had to have his hand touch the counter. We were imitating the photograph his image was lifted from. It had to meet his body in the right place, below his waist. It had to feel right. We were not Disneyland!

What did we know about Egnar? Don Paterson, my research assistant, and I did more digging.

Egnar Sandahl and his sister Sigrid lived and worked in Chase before accepting their jobs at the Observer in 1913. He moved to Victoria at some point and signed up for duty with the army in 1917, the same year his sister and her husband immigrated to New Zealand. Private Sandahl never saw overseas service. He did, however, endure the Spanish ‘flu in 1918. He was a survivor!

The Chase Museum’s Curator forwarded our email requesting information about Egnar and his family to a relative in New Zealand. What did they know about him? A brief bio came. Not much was learned but we gained some low resolution images of the children as infants. 

A further archival search found him playing clarinet in the Chase and Salmon Arm community bands.

Then we consulted his attestation papers online. Egnar was described as having a fair complexion, with blue eyes and fair hair. He had a childhood scar on his right thigh. He was 5’7 ¼ inches.

I couldn’t wait to go out to measure our digitized Haney Village Pressman.

Guess how tall our graphic image of Egnar is? 5’ 7 ¼”. Absolutely perfect! The digitized archival photograph was telling us more than we knew!


Newspaper clippings courtesy: BC Historical Newspapers - UBC Library Open Collections

View Egnar's Attestation papers: Library and Archives Canada (bac-lac.gc.ca)