President Norma Harisch began with an acknowledgement....

The Salmon Arm Museum and Heritage Association is grateful to the Secwepemc First Nation, on whose traditional territory we live, work, and play. We honour the Elders and knowledge keepers, past and present. We pay our respects to the custodians of these lands, and we value our continuing relationship with the Secwepemc People.

Ribbon cutting photograph courtesy: The Salmon Arm Observer

Thank you all for coming out to help us celebrate the opening of the final dioramas in this amazing facility. It is great to see so many of our supporters here today.

Today is about vision. It is about celebrating the end of a project but it is also about celebrating the beginning of the Salmon Arm Museum and Heritage Association, 60 years ago. Being a museum we do records well and I have here the minutes of the first meeting

In February 1962 a group of 55 people met at the Institute hall at 8pm. The meeting was chaired by Salmon Arm and District Chamber of Commerce President Mr. M. Rosmer. To start the meeting Mr. Rosmer read the following letter which had been published on January 15th 1962:

To Whom it may concern…

A roll call was taken of 24 organizations which signed the resolution.

Read address by Chairman Nancollas and Reeve Ritchie

A motion to form committee was made.

The Salmon Arm Museum and Heritage Association was registered in 1963. In 1967 with the help of a Canada Centennial grant, they achieved the goal of opening a museum building in downtown Salmon Arm. The Board of Directors in 1967 was President Jennie Nancollas, Secretary Treasurer Ernie Doe, and Executive Committee: L.L. Attridge, EAC Tweeddale, Albert Laitinen, Jack Glen, Jack Wilson and George Sperle. They did not know a lot about proper museum practices, but they did a pretty good job of preserving, and cataloging the material they had been collecting. Eventually they hired a seasonal manager who installed exhibits and managed the archives. We have come a long way.

In 1984 Marjorie Haney left her property, of 40 acres to the city of Salmon Arm, on the condition that it would be maintained as a heritage site. The city asked the Museum Association to take on the care of the property. At that time they were a very small group with little funding, but they had the vision to see the potential in the property, and they accepted the challenge. They restored the Haney House, and for a few years ran both the downtown museum, and opened the house to the public.

In 1987 a group of people including myself learned that the Broadview School was slated for demolition. At around the same time a separate group was working to save the Mt Ida Church from the same fate. Both groups approached the Museum Board to have the buildings moved to the Haney property. There was no formal plan to develop a village but the Board accepted the proposals, and fundraising began. I found myself on the board and chair of the fund raising committee in very short order. Both buildings were successfully moved and restored, and in 1990 we sold the downtown building and opened the new museum on the Haney property. A Village plan was developed. Deborah Chapman was hired as curator and given the task of moving the collection and organizing it in a professional system. Planner Bill Eaton drew plans for a village and Deborah started making a list of businesses which would be crucial to the development of young Salmon Arm. More buildings followed both original relocated structures, and reproductions. The community had come to see the vision and supported our projects very generously.

Because building codes required considerable set-backs between buildings, we began to talk about building one large structure, to house numerous businesses, a new gallery, and expanded artifact storage, and archives facilities. I got out my old school drafting ruler and pencil and paper and produced a concept drawing. The advisory Committee and Board of Directors were behind the idea and we hired Heritage consultant Cuyler Page, who trained as an architect. Cuyler worked from my sketch and archival photographs and produced a working drawing. The vision was becoming real. Architect Bernd Hermanski made the drawing to code and we were underway. In 2017 we opened this building and a couple of the dioramas as the City’s Canada 150 project. Work continued on the remaining dioramas and we moved on to renovate the old gallery and archives to become the new Sprig of Heather Restaurant. The Children’s museum followed. The design of the interior spaces of the dioramas was contracted to Cuyler Page and he and Deborah collaborated on each one in turn. Deborah is painstaking in her determination to get every detail correct and it is her commitment that has brought us to today. I became familiar with receiving messages from Deborah saying “Norma can we do this?” The “we” was me and the “this” was paint a cow for the sign for the butcher shop, paint a back drop for the photography studio, and more recently paint a smudge of smoke around the chimney in the bank. I never said no. Deborah is never bossy but she is quietly convincing.

There are so many Volunteers to thank; it is impossible to name them. Thousands of hours were given and we are grateful to all of them. For example, in the winter of 2015 we decided we could paint the exterior siding ourselves, and hung up insulated tarps for interior walls, in the unheated basement of the building and created a work room, complete with drying racks. Gary Cruikshank and Deborah worked out the number of boards of siding and trim needed for each storefront and Gary personally stacked them and labeled them for my painting volunteers to work on. I would be downstairs painting and hear the sound of feet running down stairs. It was Gary bringing more material down. Between us I am sure we handled each and every board on this building. Painting went on from mid-November until mid-March. That is commitment.

Our Association is grateful to have had the support of the City of Salmon Arm and the community through all the years of our existence but most especially for the last 7 years.

We are also extremely grateful to our amazing staff. General Manager Susan Mackie has been with us for 11 years and I don’t believe we could have done this without her and curator Deborah Chapman. Deborah is now semi-retired and we are not going to let her go anytime soon. Construction maintenance Manager Bruce Mackie has been heavily involved in the many projects we have undertaken in the last few years. Susan, Deborah, and Bruce and all the people in their departments have done the hard work and supported the board all along and we feel very lucky to have them all.

Of course none of this would be possible without the money, and Doug is going to tell you about the amazing folks who stepped up with generous donations to make this dream a reality. Thank you to all of them.

Finally I want to thank our regular volunteers who keep this place running day to day. You will see them working in the archives, kitchen, restaurant, gate, parking, flipping pancakes and burgers and interpreting exhibits. Please take the time to thank a volunteer today. For the rest of the day you will find me at the bar, I mean behind the bar, serving drinks, so come over and enjoy a burger or lunch special with a beer, cider, wine, or even a cocktail. I can do it all.

Enjoy the village and all the fun activities our team has planned and thank you all for coming. There will be cake at 1:30 in front of the Children’s Museum.

President Norma Harisch flanked by Vice President Doug Adams (left) and City Counsellor David Gonella (right). Haney Staff photo.