Castlegar's Station Museum

Castlegar's Station Museum

Castlegar & District Heritage Society still preserving city’s historical sites

Heritage Society reviews 2016 and shares plans for 2017.

The Castlegar & District Heritage Society (CDHS) has just wrapped up a very busy year, but is already making plans for 2017.

The CDHS maintains and operates the Station Museum and Zuckerberg Island Heritage Park. These properties are owned by the City of Castlegar, but the society takes care of the day-to-day operations. Their primary funding comes from the city through a service contract. Admission to both locations is free.

The number of visitors both local and out of town was up at both locations in 2016.

Station Museum

Major projects at the museum in 2016 included a complete rebuild of the security system, replacing the hot water tank, replacing the floor in the caboose and renewing the garden irrigation system. A lot of work was also done in the gardens with many new plantings and the removal of some problem trees and volunteer plants.

All the work that has gone into the gardens over the years was recognized when Castlegar won the Heritage Gardens Award from Communities in Bloom for a combination of the gardens at the Station Museum, Zuckerberg Island, Verigin’s Tomb, and the Doukhobor Discovery Centre.

An outdoor piano was added to the front porch of the museum this year and has proved to be very popular, even in the cold winter weather.

The Saturday morning farmers’ markets held at the museum were also a success in 2016.

CDHS president Chris D’Arcy feels one of the most interesting things that happened at the museum last year was a special exhibit compiled by students from Kinnaird Elementary School. Students from Grades two and three gathered what they considered to be family treasures and the items were put together into an exhibit. “The children did such a great job,” he said. “We were very impressed by the work that they did.”

Other special events the museum hosted included a book reading by Annie Barnes, a Canada Day breakfast and an event marking the International Day of Peace.

Zuckerberg Island Heritage Park

The society was able to keep Zuckerberg Island staffed from May 1 to Sept. 30. Highlights of the year included tours from the Communities in Bloom judges and the Lieutenant Governor of B.C.

For those wishing to explore not just the natural beauty of the island, but something artistic as well, an easel was set up with blank canvases and painting supplies. “People just really took to it,” said D’Arcy. Some of the paintings have been kept in the Chapel House.

Improvements at the island included bear-resistant garbage cans, stabilization of a bench foundation that was damaged by river erosion, rebuilding and refinishing three picnic tables and the clearing of trails.

Life is thriving in the lagoon area of the island with beavers, muskrats, herons, turtles, bears, geese and ducks all being spotted.

The walking trails from Millennium Park through to Zuckerberg Island are becoming increasingly popular. “I think one of the reasons is that the island is dog friendly,” said D’Arcy. “There are so many places where dogs aren’t welcome any more.” Dogs need to be on leashes and behaving, but are more than welcome to join their owners for a stroll around the island.

Looking to 2017

Goals for 2017 at the museum include repainting the box car and the caboose and upgrading the kitchen. “If the community is ever going to use it, we need to upgrade it and make it closer to something that could get commercial approval,” said D’Arcy.

An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is being donated to the museum from the family of a man who experienced a cardiac incident during one of the market days last year. An RCMP officer who was at the detachment office across the street from the museum was able to come and quickly provide medical attention to the man, who has since recovered from the incident. Local RCMP will be providing training to museum volunteers on how to use their new AED.

The CDHS has also been talking to the city about providing a source of safe drinking water outdoors at both sites.

For Zuckerberg Island, plans are being made for a new storage shed door, new shutters for two of the Chapel House windows, new topsoil and seed for the lawns and removal of some squirrels who have decided to take advantage of the old wooden structures in the house.

The society has asked the City of Castlegar to consider incorporating a 10 per cent increase to its operating budget for the coming year citing that as the buildings age even more, maintenance and hardware costs are escalating more rapidly than their income. “We have to meet the terms of our contract with the city and perhaps more importantly, the expectations of the public and maintain two sites with old buildings,” explained D’Arcy.