Dozens of people crowded into the Agassiz-Harrison Museum Wednesday (March 6) with a hope of enjoying some stories from the past.
Sitting in cloth-covered armchairs, folding chairs, and even office chairs brought down from the archives upstairs, audience members laughed along with reminiscences from Bev Kennedy, Eoin “Bunk” MacKay, Andy Bodnar and Victoria Brooks.
“I think it was marvelous to have that big of a turnout,” Kennedy, speaker and event organizer, said. “I think I counted 60 people there.”
Wednesday’s event was the first Heritage Speaker Night put on by the museum, but Kennedy said they are hoping to bring in more, “either monthly or every few months,” because of how well it turned out.
“The stories that are told by the people who actually lived some of the stories makes it more real,” she said about the event. “The stories come to life.”
“The Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge” — Bev Kennedy
|Bev Kennedy talking about the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge during the Agassiz-Harrison Museum’s first Heritage Speaker Night. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)|
Local historian Bev Kennedy took a dive into the history of the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge for her 10-minute speech at the Heritage Speaker Night.
“In 1956 (when the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge opened), this whole societal trend changed dramatically, almost overnight,” she continued. “Young people immediately started to date and take social activities with young people from Chilliwack and Rosedale area.”
“The 1948 flood” — Eion “Bunk” MacKay
|Eoin “Bunk” McKay shares his memories of the 1948 flood during the Agassiz-Harrison Museum’s first Heritage Speaker Night. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)|
The 1948 flood and the destruction that followed is not something people usually laugh at, but Eoin “Bunk” MacKay’s stories about experiencing the flood as a child certainly sent chuckles through the audience.
Throughout his speech, MacKay offered stories about the Red Cross bringing food up to residents who had evacuated to higher ground, the bridge to his house floating off its piles and one baby boy being born as his mother travelled over the flooded area in a ferry.
“Farming in the Agassiz Harrison Valley” — Andy Bodnar
|Andy Bodnar talking about his family’s history of farming in Agassiz during the Agassiz-Harrison Museum’s first Heritage Speaker Night. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)|
Dairy farmer Andy Bodnar knows the history of farming in Agassiz better than most, as he runs the second-oldest family farm in the community.
During his talk at the Heritage Speaker Night, he shared some of his dad’s early experiences after immigrating to Agassiz from Czechoslovakia, including how they get into dairy farming and what crops they brought over from their homeland that didn’t quite make it in Canada, like hemp.
“History of the Agassiz Research Station” — Victoria Brookes
|Victoria Brookes speaking about the history of the Agassiz Research Station. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)|
Victoria Brookes was the last speaker of the Museum’s first Heritage Speaker Night, but spoke the longest about her experiences with the Agassiz Research Station.
Working there for more than 40 years, Brookes shared some of her own experiences, but also the early history of the station — like how it was chosen because, compared to Ottawa, Agassiz seemed “sub-tropical.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article spelled Victoria Brookes’ last name incorrectly. The correct spelling is Brookes. We regret the error and thank Victoria Brookes for bringing it to our attention.