The Agassiz-Harrison Museum is almost ready to open after months of renovations and improvements to the 122-year old building.
“It’s been a labour of love in many ways,” says Judy Pickard, museum manager. “It’s been a lot of work. But a lot of fun too.”
Renovations began in early March. Every single item in the museum was packed up. Every hole was filled and every wall was painted. The 30-year old carpet was removed and replaced with beautiful vinyl plank flooring. Then each item was carefully placed back in its proper spot, thanks to the tireless work of dedicated volunteers. Some exhibits were installed the way they had been while others have been re-arranged to provide an interesting visual change.
The museum was originally a Canadian Pacific Rail station, built in 1893. In the 1970s, CP started to tear down its old stations. The District of Kent was able to save the local building by moving it off CP land and out to the research station. When the District took ownership over the land that is now Pioneer Park, they brought the museum back to its old location in 2003.
“It’s such a beautiful building, one of the last wooden stations in Canada built by the CPR,” shares Historic Society president Joan Vogstad.
As the renovations inside were being completed, then work on the outside began, funded through a $25,000 federal grant.
The wood entrance to the museum / visitor was old and rotting in spots. Boards have been replaced as needed over the years but the 12-year old walkway needed updating. On top of that, the wood has proven to be hazardous with the slightest precipitation, leading to safety concerns for visitors and volunteers.
The wood planks were removed and the salvageable ones were sent to the Agassiz community gardens. When the planks were removed, they discovered rot underneath the building. Pickard reports they were able to replace all the rotten wood, which added time to the project, before finally prepping the site for the new walkway.
In an update to the District of Kent Council at their June 22 meeting, Pickard thanked the District for all their assistance. Council agreed to finance the renovations inside for $22,500, drawn out of the Wayward Pines legacy funding. They also provided gravel and assistance from the Public Works crew.
What really shone in this project though was the volunteers. Vogstad says the individuals who spent their time on the museum, ranging from teens through to senior citizens, did a fantastic job.
“We’re lucky to have so many wonderful volunteers,” says Vogstad.
Roughly 50 volunteers, including eight high school students and six 20-year olds who helped with the moving, spent countless hours inside and out getting the museum into ship shape.
Pickard praises the community, from all the volunteer labour to the local contractors who completed all the work, to support from the District and the Kent-Harrison Foundation.
“It’s been a really big job with a lot of community help,” she remarks.
In her delegation to Council, Pickard joked that people would cringe when the museum showed up on their call display, knowing it would be a call for help. But Councillor Sylvia Pranger said it is amazing to see just how many volunteers we have in this community who pull together to make projects like this happen.
Mayor John Van Laerhoven thanked Pickard for spearheading the project.
“This facility is very much valued,” he stated.
To celebrate the project’s completion, the museum is having a grand opening Friday, July 10 from 1-3 p.m. There will be tours of the museum and cake (a 1914 recipe found in the Heritage cookbook)! All are welcome. For more information, call the museum at 604-796-3345.