Local museum created by dedicated volunteers

Barriere & District Heritage Society and the North Thompson Museum and Archives began in 1984

A Star/Journal newspaper clipping from 2004 reads: Volunteers of the Barriere and District Heritage Society meet with a publishers representative to compile pictures for their soon to be released history book.  From left to right:  Carol Scott

A Star/Journal newspaper clipping from 2004 reads: Volunteers of the Barriere and District Heritage Society meet with a publishers representative to compile pictures for their soon to be released history book. From left to right: Carol Scott

Did you know that there is an International Museum Day?

This day of celebrating all things museum was created in 1977 by the International Council of Museums (ICOM). It is celebrated on and around May 18 every year.  Events and activities can last a day, a weekend, or even a whole week – it is entirely up to the organizers in each community.

In 2012, over 120 countries around the world celebrated this event, over 30,000 individual museums participated, and the official poster was translated into 37 different languages.

ICOM is the main organization of museums and museum professionals with a global scope; they are committed to the promotion and protection of natural and cultural heritage, present and future, tangible and intangible.  Every year ICOM chooses the theme for International Museum Day.  This year the theme is “Museums and Cultural Landscapes”.

When was the last time you visited the museum in Barriere, or in your own community?

Here’s a little bit of history about the Barriere museum:

In the beginning, area resident Shirley Kristensen  thought that Barriere needed more of an identity and a pride in its’ past.

As a result a group of interested people gathered at the Barriere Library and after discussion decided to form an area heritage society. Because of that meeting the Barriere and District Heritage Society was founded on Feb. 8, 1984.

Some of the founding members included: Ellen Struthers, Fran Wagstaff, Greta Campbell, Shirley Kristensen, Maria Bray, and Shirly Wittner.

Greta Campbell, the branch head at the local library, collected donations from residents – items that included artifacts and archival materials.

The library continued to be used as the meeting place for the society.

In 1985, the society was instrumental in developing Barriere Forks Park.

The society then applied for and received a grant from the Expo Legacy, using the money to purchase the former Forest Service building (built in 1948) at 424 Lilley Road in Barriere.  This building became the North Thompson Museum and Archives.

During 1987 the building was renovated through a make-work grant supervised by Harley Wright.

The garage and other buildings on the property were built or renovated as B.C. Gaming monies were secured.

Summer students were hired to staff the museum each summer, and for a few years it also served as the community’s tourist information centre.

The mandate of the society is to collect archival materials and artifacts pertaining to the history of the area from McLure to Little Fort and all outlying valleys.

The museum reflects the life of native people and pioneering settlers, with displays of photos and artifacts, including a general store and one-room school.

Past events have included:

• Demo Days – for school students, where they participate in pioneer skills.

• Heritage Night (1985) – wine and cheese event that served 135 guests.

• In 2002, the members got together who were interested in the challenge of writing and publishing a book celebrating the history of the area.  Exploring Our Roots was the result and the first printing was in 2004 – a labour of love accomplished by the book committee, assisted by many people who gave generously of their time and experience.  Copies of the book can be purchased from the museum, and the library keeps a copy on its’ shelves.

Currently: the museum is open during July and August, and by appointment throughout the rest of the year.  During the summer months they still hire a student to help show visitors through the facility.

Volunteer opportunities include: gardening, research, building displays, hosting events (such as the Demo Days), writing articles, advertising, education, workshops, and there are always executive positions on the board.

Anyone, any age, can join this society and the membership fees are affordable for all – at only $2 per person per year.   For more info, or to join, contact Shirly Wittner at 250-672-5916.