Thursday, November 22, 2012


Souvenir China from the Green Heart of British Columbia

With some changes to our display building it was good to have some of our commemorative china return to the curatorial department for care and attention. As I worked through the several examples in the museum's collection I was reminded of an earlier Museum and Archives exhibit that focused upon the promotion of Chilliwack and district to locals and visitors.

Souvenir china was, at one time, extremely popular and over the years I have seen examples from across British Columbia, Canada and elsewhere.

Mt Cheam Souvenir China Set, comprising plate, creamer and sugar.
Royal Winton, Grimwades, England.

Friday, May 25, 2012

What's the Buzz about Bees?

Honey Extractor used by "Honey" Johnson in the early Chilliwack Bee Keeping Industry. 

Day of the Honey Bee: May 29, 2012

They buzz about our gardens and fields, working their business, passing from one set of coloured petals to another. Steadily gathering, they harvest the goodness that becomes honey. I like watching them and enjoy their steady drone and attentive focus. They do a grand job and I am grateful to them for their initiative and company. We need those comb creators for pollination and with the recent threats to them I thought I would bring a bit of their local history to your attention. 

It was interesting that, while digging about on the Chilliwack Fruit Industry, I learned that at the same time there was a thriving local bee keeping industry. So far we have complied a list of early bee keepers working specifically in the Sardis area and have become aware that the bee keeping industry is not well represented in our object or archival collections.

For instance, although the Chilliwack Museum is fortunate to have a few pieces of bee related equipment we do not have any early examples of local honey tins. These cans could include custom made tins featuring graphics produced specifically for the firm or a standardized pattern with space for a local name stamp to be applied. We would be most grateful to learn about any Chilliwack honey tins that have survived and we thank you for any help you might be able to provide. As always it does not have to be really old to be of historic interest to us. (I would also mention, at the same time, we only have one early fruit manufacturer’s label from Storey Fruit Farms, Sardis, B.C.)

Turning to today, we have also learned that farmers lease bees from hive operators to ensure the pollination of their crops; cranberries are one example where bees perform their duties with determination. Apart from the production of honey, either creamed or liquid, the wax is also an important commercial part of the industry. In a recent conversation with a commercial bee keeper I believe he told me that the wax is used by the aviation industry. Eager to learn more I would enjoy hearing about other uses for bee related products or about local bee keeping history.

Please let us know what you might have lurking around representative of bees, their keepers and their work and remember that the Day of the Honey Bee is just around the corner.

The Day of the Honey Bee

Name of Day:
Day of the Honey Bee
Tuesday, May 29, 2012

WHEREAS the honey bee has, through its role as a pollinator, been an important part of our agricultural heritage since ancient times and

WHEREAS the honey bee plays an essential role in the success of agricultural enterprise in British Columbia and

WHEREAS the honey bee has been under serious threat due to disease and environmental conditions that ultimately threaten the future of agriculture in our province and

WHEREAS it is in the interest of furthering the goal of improved agricultural production to raise the awareness of the role of the honey bee and the plight it faces NOW KNOW YE THAT We do proclaim and declare May 29, 2012 as “The Day of the Honey Bee”.

From the British Columbia Honey Producers Association website:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

One Topic Leads to Another

Chilliwack's Strand Theatre with Ben-Hur film posters! 
Circa 1928. Image P3186

I always enjoy looking through our collections and discovering something new! Anytime there is an opportunity to browse through the pages of the Chilliwack Progress newspaper, which we have dating back to its origins in 1891, is always a bonus. One discovery leads to another and so it goes.

Recently we have been building up our knowledge of the fruit farming industry in Chilliwack and were delighted to find so much new information. Then searching through the online directories, courtesy of the Vancouver Public Library, we added to our findings. The scope of the fruit farming industry in Chilliwack is marvelous and has much potential for further study. I see a future exhibit in this!

Nevertheless while we look for one thing...we always find other interests.

It seems that Chilliwack was once, along with the fruit industry, a thriving bee-keeping community. As I scroll down the names of residents in Chilliwack, Sardis and Rosedale, in search of fruit related industry, I find other curiosities such as in the 1925 Wrigley's Directory the Palace of Sweets operated by J. Valalas, or C.J. Whittaker & Co. that sold farm implements locally. Still my favorite for the day, Mrs. K. Gregory pianist for the Strand Theatre! I can see her adding the soundtrack to the old silent films of the day! A little known and obscure fact that adds so much, I feel, to our knowledge of the Strand Theatre. From fruit to bees to the Strand and Ben-Hur! Who knew?

We may not know too much about these individuals yet, but they are there locked into our memory now, waiting for further discoveries that will add even more colour to this community's history. I wonder what this afternoon's discoveries will bring?

Incidentally the film Ben-Hur was produced in 1925!