Chemainus Museum turning 25

The Chemainus Valley Museum is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a big party on Wednesday, Aug. 17 at Waterwheel Plaza.

The Chemainus Valley Museum is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a big party on Wednesday, Aug. 17 at Waterwheel Plaza.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. you can join the volunteers in celebrating History Then and Now.

There will be historical games for children along with music and dancing. There’s also food and lots of activities.

According to museum society spokesperson Amy Brophy, it’s been exactly a quarter century since the museum was officially opened on        Aug. 17, 1991 but the community’s interest in its history goes much further back.

“The society was actually started back in the 1960s by a group of local citizens, including H. R. Macmillan himself, which is kind of cool. Back then, they kept all the artifacts people were giving them in their barns and garages with the hope of opening a museum,” she said.

Now the Chemainus Valley Museum welcomes up to 30,000 every year, according to Brophy.

“They come from all over the world. There are the buses that come in to Chemainus, of course, but you also have a lot of tourists that come in from all across Canada and North America, and a lot of Europeans will come on their own.”

The museum has quite a birthday shindig set up for Aug. 17 in Waterwheel Park under tents.

“The whole idea is not just to celebrate the 25th anniversary but to show some of how we’re trying to connect with the community. We’re having demonstrations by people who are still doing traditional activities today,” said Brophy.

These include First Nations cedar weaving and traditional medicine as well as traditional spinning, rug braiding and hooking, and chain saw carving. The displays outdoors will highlight two historic dairy farms.

“The Porters and the Plesters have been very generous in lending us some of their own personal artifacts and pictures. It really is amazing. The Porters have had six generations of their family involved with the farm, going back to 1883. And the Plesters are on the old Rainbow Ranch, which is actually the original homestead back in the 1850s,” she said.

In addition, there will be displays featuring the Chemainus sawmill and the Chemainus Hospital and Auxiliary.

“Of course the museum has its continuing displays inside. They’ve been packed to the gills. We’re now in the last stage of our expansion project. When the new space is completed next year it will be able to support some new and interactive activities for the public like what is being demonstrated Wednesday,” Brophy said.

It all starts at 10 a.m. with a welcome and blessing by Penelakut Elder Florence James, a welcome from Mayor Jon Lefebure and historical society president Eric Veistrup and the playing of ‘The Maple Leaf Forever’ by Peter Leckie on the bagpipes. Later, there is entertainment from the Silvertones, the Island Hoppers Jump Rope Team, the Chemainus Community Band and a chance to hear some exciting stories from historian and author T.W. Paterson.

A birthday cake and ice cream will be served from 1 to 2 p.m.