Mary McGhee has volunteered at Kilby since its opening as a historic site.

Kilby’s Mary McGhee

As The Observer celebrates our 25th anniversary, we look back at groups we've covered. Kilby has been in our paper since day one!

The funny thing about celebrating The Observer’s 25th anniversary year is there are so many organizations, businesses and events here that have a far longer history. In a community that has ties back more than 100 years, we know we’re still the new guys! But one thing The Observer has done consistently since its inception is to report on the happenings of those longstanding community groups and events that help make this place so special.

Right from the beginning of The Observer, there was coverage from Kilby Historic Site. Since opening the museum and Kilby grounds, they have invited locals and tourists alike to walk back in history. Volunteers spend countless hours welcoming guests and working hard. One such volunteer is Mary McGhee, who has served at the Kilby Historic Site since it became a museum in the early 1970’s, and before that when it was a store. As the sole neighbour of the Kilby family, she would walk across from her home to mind the store for an hour or so a couple times a week, to give Mrs. Kilby a break.

“She was like a grandma to me,” recalls McGhee.

It was a natural fit to volunteer at Kilby when it opened as a historic site. She had first-hand knowledge of the Kilbys and life in Harrison Mills.

“I enjoy doing volunteer work where I can,” she remarks.

She takes an interest in historic sites throughout B.C., having spent one vacation visiting as many sites as possible. And after more than 40 years volunteering at Kilby, she knows what works well for the site. She says Kilby’s niche is being “in the country, with a country atmosphere.”

It draws people in to be part of a “working farm,””and she loves to watch city kids come out and enjoy the rural atmosphere at Kilby.

“Living in the country, we take so much for granted. I see so many people coming in – they’re so interested in this outdoor life.”

She says the site is great for adults to reminisce about old times, and for children to see life in the country and to run, play and learn in a wonderful outdoor space.

McGhee has worked in the gift shop, the museum, planted flower beds, is a former president of the Kilby Historic Society (precursor to the Fraser Heritage Society), makes the costumes and has done countless other jobs to help keep Kilby alive.

But she’s quick to point out she’s just one of many volunteers who have helped make the Kilby Historic Site the special local gem it is today. We at The Observer would like to thank McGhee and all the other employees and volunteers for their dedicated service to this historic site, and we’re glad we get to be a small part of it by covering events and activities at Kilby within our pages.

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Kilby Historic Site celebrates the turning of the season this Sunday, Sept. 13. Come join them for their Autumn Harvest Festival from 11-4 p.m. The day includes an apple cider pressing demonstration on their 100 year-old apple press, browse the mini farmer’s market and let the kids make an autumn-themed craft. For admission prices and more information, see www.kilby.ca

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