Rocks and gems are part of a new display opening at the Cowichan Valley Museum in Duncan in April, 2022. This stone is rhodonite. (Photo courtesy of the Cowichan Historical Society)

Rocks and gems are part of a new display opening at the Cowichan Valley Museum in Duncan in April, 2022. This stone is rhodonite. (Photo courtesy of the Cowichan Historical Society)

‘Rocks, Gems & Settler Maps’ opens at the Cowichan Valley Museum

Five maps on display will be of high historical and genealogical interest

By Carolyn Prellwitz

Get ready to rock at the Cowichan Valley Museum in Duncan

A new temporary exhibition, titled Rocks, Gems & Settler Maps, is opening on Thursday, April 21. It’s a joint exhibition featuring displays from the Cowichan Valley Rockhounds and settler maps of the Cowichan Valley created by Jim Ward, a member of the Cowichan Historical Society board of directors.

The Cowichan Valley Rockhounds (CVR) is one of six clubs on Vancouver Island within the BC Lapidary Society, which is itself a member of the Gem and Mineral Federation of Canada (GMFC). The GMFC provides scholarships and liability insurance for its member clubs. The CVR promotes and encourages the study, collection, cutting and polishing of gemstones, minerals, rocks and other geological materials in the Cowichan Valley.

They also encourage the exploration of local areas for lapidary materials, conduct field trips to study and collect local rocks, and provide resources for those interested in rocks, gems and associated crafts. Visitors to the museum will see a very fine display of minerals, rocks and gemstones on display.

Ward is a retired geologist with a lifelong interest in history. Combining that interest with his mapping background has allowed him to create, in conjunction with the Cobble Hill Historical Society, maps that show settler owners of land in the Cowichan Valley. The maps on display in the temporary exhibit at the Cowichan Valley Museum detail who was the first settler of each property, the year they acquired the land, and an identifier that indicates how they obtained it. These identifiers include Crown Grants (provincial), Dominion Grants (federal), Direct Purchases, or E&N purchases.

Older Crown Grants were usually preceded by a pre-emption process which required living without absence on the land for a specified period, making qualifying improvements, and then paying $1 per acre to finally obtain the grant. For those members of the community whose grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents came to the Valley in the late 1800s the five maps on display will be of high historical and genealogical interest.

The exhibit runs until Thursday, June 30. The Cowichan Valley Museum is open Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is located at 130 Canada Ave. Admission is by donation.

Carolyn Prellwitz is the vice-president of the Cowichan Historical Society.

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