Cabinets open conversation on Christina Lake history

Erin Perkins
By Erin Perkins
January 17th, 2013

Two hand-crafted wood cabinets are hoped to both enlighten visitors about local history and to attract artifacts for view and possible donation to the Boundary Museum.

The Boundary Museum donated the cabinets, a project that was led by Boundary Woodworker’s Guild member Dennis Hansen, to the Welcome Center in Christina Lake this past weekend.  One cabinet will contain a display of aboriginal artifacts the Boundary Museum currently holds in their collection. The other will contain artifacts from the area that will hopefully be loaned or given to the museum from the community.

Grand Forks city archivist and Christina Lake resident Sue Adrian said the Boundary Museum currently has nothing but aboriginal artifacts from the Christina Lake area, a void she would like to see filled. She sees these new cabinets as a way to encourage loans and donations from within the community. And an opportunity to share those same treasures with the community.

Grace McGregor, Area C director for the Regional District Kootenay Boundary, is the first to make a loan to the display. She brought in a pair of Bishop and Babcock brass beer taps that are from the Christina Lake Hotel, which burned down in the 1970s. The taps, made of brass with carved wooden handles, served many a Christina Lake resident their favorite frothy brew at the Kingsley Road establishment during the first half of the last century.

McGregor came by the artifacts through a friend, who willed them to her. They’ve been down in her basement ever since.

“I hope it will encourage other people to do the same,” said McGregor of her loan.

“To the woodworkers, I’d like to say thank you so very much. Sue (Adrian) is phenomenal in wanting to feature these things. If (the museum and woodworkers) are kind enough to donate this, then let’s make use of it,” said McGregor. “I think these cabinets speak to the partnerships and people who care about this whole area.”

McGregor said part of the reason there are so few local artifacts, which could include items or photographs from Christina Lake, Cascade, Ponderosa or Gilpin, has to do with the removal of those artifacts about 40 years ago. One of the people responsible for the removal was Bill Barlee. Barlee, who was born in Grand Forks, is well known for his tales about the region in the television show Gold Trails and Ghost Towns and served on the provincial government as an MLA. His grandfather had lived in Cascade, so the region had a special interest for him. When the town site was still accessible he came in the 1970s and removed much of the Cascade artifacts before the Christina Lake Golf Course was built, said McGregor.

Many of those artifacts sit in the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec. Others have been distributed to museums throughout BC.

Because these items have been scattered like so many others, our local museum has been left with nothing from this corner of the Boundary.

Adrian said people may not even realize they have something of historical value in their basements or attic spaces. Last year she received an outstanding donation from a Christina Lake resident. Inside the unassuming cardboard box they brought her were a series of taped interviews from long-time residents of the area.

The wooden display cases are located down one wing of the Christina Lake Welcome Center. The cases are not yet filled because they are waiting for the final touch to be installed – carved native-styled fish and birch leaves, and secure locks put in.

If you have something you’d like to donate, contact the Welcome Center at 250-447-6161 or drop in to the front desk. All items should be labeled and include a small write up about what it is, where it was found and its significance to Christina Lake. Photographs are also welcome.

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