Squamish needs a museum, a permanent place for us to showcase our community’s history. As the President of the Squamish Historical Society, I can tell you that we started collecting history in earnest in 2006 when Woodfibre closed. As many as 300 employees lost their jobs, and many people moved away, taking their history with them.
For the past 17 years, the SHS has received donated items of photographs and artefacts which are currently being stored in two storage units in the business park totalling 400 square feet. In 2014, after six years of fundraiser over $40,000 and restoring the Wilkie Building, including building an accessible deck at the Railway Park, we finally had the Squamish Museum, which opened in May that year with a ribbon cutting by Coun. Patricia Heintzman.
However, in 2018, we were evicted as the railway park had to use the building itself. After ten years of donated storage that same year, we were again evicted. Luckily for us, Woodfibre LNG offered us two years of storage, which has now exceeded five years, and we are grateful for the nearly $50,000 we have received from the organization to keep our heritage collection intact.
Our mandate is to collect, document, preserve and showcase the history of Squamish and the surrounding area. While we exit the pandemic with a robust social media following, we are still without a physical location to showcase the heritage of the community in the community.
Items in our collection include:
The Judd family organ & 19th century encyclopedia collection
The late Terrill Patterson’s bike, trailer and helmet
The Woodfibre church organ -15 of the significant turn of the century 1911 photos of Woodfibre that hung in the former Woodfibre offices plus many films and artefact
The Woodfibre quilt and recipe books –
The Woodfibre Church organ
The bulk of original pioneer collections from the former Squamish Museum that was in Stan Clarke Park (the building was moved to the Railway Park and the collection was retrieved by the SHS from the old B.C. Hydro Senior Centre attic before it was torn down) –
The Rose Tatlow collection -The Brennan Park collection of Timber Queen’s and Princesses of Squamish Days –
The late Left Goldsmith’s Brackendale Fall Fair kitchen collection –
The Welcome to Squamish Deer Sign -And many, many personal donations from relatives of the departed, including significant landscape paintings, documents of the Squamish Board of Trade and incorporation documents of the former Newport to Squamish in 1914, Town Center photos, and several information displays to name a few.
It’s been a few years, and memories fade. I would like to remind the public that in 2007, Brent Leigh, the former CAO of the District of Squamish signed an MOU for the Squamish Historical Society to construct a Squamish Museum in the parking lot across from the Squamish Adventure Centre.
We would like to dust off the MOU and revisit with the District of Squamish and local community stakeholders to find a permanent home to showcase our community’s history from 1888 to the present day. Wouldn’t a museum be an asset to our community, giving locals and tourists alike a reason to learn more about our colourful past? We think so, and so would a large majority of this community.
Bianca Peters is the president of the Squamish Historical Society.