Grand Forks museum history 101

The Fructova School in Grand Forks recently had a new picnic area built – it will be available for public use in May.

People are still very confused between the district’s museum venues and we certainly don’t blame them. From the ‘Heritage Centre’ in the old courthouse, the historic flour mill, the Doukhobor museum at Hardy Mountain, the Fructova School, Gyro Park historic display, community archival collection, Saddle Lake historic site – whatever happened to the Boundary Historical Society? We will try to explain.

The old courthouse building downtown is now called Gallery 2 and is run by the Art Gallery Society.

This grand old building not only serves as the local art gallery and visitor centre, there is also exhibition space on the main floor, which is allocated to heritage-type displays.

The ‘Heritage Centre’ is not authorized to collect artifacts or archival material nor do they care for, preserve or house the community artifact collection or the community archival collection – theirs is a “display-only” arrangement.

Although the Boundary Museum Society and the Art Gallery Society enjoy a good working relationship, the Heritage Centre, run by the art gallery in the old courthouse location, is in no way related to the Boundary Museum Society (BMS), Gyro Park or any of the other venues listed above.

The Boundary Museum Society lost their building a couple of years ago. It was located in Gyro Park and due to age and state of deterioration, it wasn’t worth repairing.

They have since relocated up to the old Fructova School grounds a few miles from downtown while most of their outdoor display remains downtown at Gyro Park.

The BMS leases the Fructova grounds and building from the USCC (Union of Spiritual Communities of Christ) but remain your district, public museum.

The BMS still collects, holds, cares for and displays the items that belong or belonged to the people (living or passed) that live or lived within the City of Grand Forks as well as both Regional Districts C and D.

The Boundary Museum Society also has care and custody of the Community Archival Collection.

This collection includes maps, documents, photo collections and related material.

The BMS and the Boundary Historical Society share information and provide support for each other. The Boundary Historical Society does not have a building to call home and much of their archival material is presently stored in Greenwood.

The third museum venue is on land held by TLC (The Land Conservancy of BC) and is located up Hardy Mountain Rd.

This was the old Makortoff Village and is currently under reconstruction. Funds for development of these buildings and properties are provided mainly by TLC with volunteer support coming from Boundary Museum Society and others.

The BMS has care and custody of the artifacts and archives that will be used to appoint the building and grounds once the project is complete.

For more information on this project, go to http://blog.conservancy.bc.ca/properties/okanagan-region/hardy-mountain-doukhobor-village-historic-site/

Information about the BMS

The Boundary Museum Society not only looks after the community artifact and archival collection, they are open as a museum from May to the end of October in their new location at 6145 Reservoir Road, where they have everything on display from City of Grand Forks memorabilia to mining, smelting and a good selection of Doukhobor artifacts.

Many exhibits are interactive and geared towards children.

This year we hope to be conducting tours of Saddle Lake which was once an important man-made irrigation source and now vital habitat to an endangered salamander.

The environmental lab and new outdoor classroom at the Fructova location will become the staging grounds for many interest groups as lessons from history become the visions and realities of the future.

Our Doukhobor oven is ready to go and on scheduled days throughout the summer, we will be firing it up for baking – whether that is bread, pizza or potatoes.

Tours of the flour mill are also on the agenda and we will as well be providing support for the Hardy Mountain Doukhobor Museum located further up the hill.

Although construction continues, they do provide tours throughout the summer at scheduled times.

Other projects on the drawing board include the installation of two bee hives to serve as a learning tool, a heritage Doukhobor garden, our new weed-control, which consists of four sheep and their babies.

Look for these in May as we hold our “name the baby sheep” contest.

The Boundary Museum Society is currently developing partnerships with like-minded organizations that recognize the importance of not only maintaining, but continuing to develop various aspects of history of the area.

The Boundary Woodworkers, with sponsorship from the BMS, are undertaking a huge project of restoration work of some of the items located in the Boundary Museum display at Gyro Park.

They are currently working on the Burns delivery wagon, which is nearing completion.

With help from the Boundary Spinner’s and Weavers, the museum has been able to set up and operate a loom and this year will expand that to include scheduled loom and spinning wheel demonstrations at the Fructova location.

Our friends from the USCC have always offered to lend a hand to guide us as we learn about Doukhobor history and their struggles and triumphs as they came and settled in this valley.

We thank them for allowing us to share their story with our visitors.

New to us this year is our outdoor classroom and shade house.

This is a six metre x 12 metre picnic type shelter that was made possible by a job creation grant for unemployed forest workers as well as numerous volunteer hours.

This facility, as well as the picnic grounds, will be available to the public during open hours or by previous arrangement.

As you are planning those family reunions or other get-togethers, please keep us in mind.

The past is what we learn from; we should recognize those people and events that have made a difference.

Submitted by the Boundary Museum Society