The Qualicum Beach Historical & Museum Society is celebrating 30 years as a society this year. It is an organization built by volunteers. To honour those who established the society and built the museum and archives, the Society is naming a series of volunteer awards after its Past Board Presidents – Cora Skipsey, Jim Storey, Ray Ducker, Art Skipsey, Graham Beard, Jim Purdon and Gil Gilmore.
In reviewing materials about these museum leaders, quotes from Jim Storey reflect the attitude of all of them – “Together we are Number One”, “We achieve great strengths by working together”, “Don’t sit and talk about it, just get it done”, “It doesn’t matter who gets the credit”.
Ada Ducker remembers that shortly after moving here – and as they were beginning to build their home – husband Ray saw an ad in the local paper for a volunteer project manager and so they both went to the meeting. By the end of the meeting the group of ladies present, led by Cora Skipsey, had convinced Ray he should take on the project – refurbishing the original QB power house for use as a museum building. That then evolved into the reconstruction of the MacIntosh building which had been the power house building in Port Alberni and was brought over and rebuilt brick by brick.
The Museum Board were all movers and shakers in the early 1990’s in Qualicum Beach. If you saw them coming you knew to reach for your wallet or get out your cheque book because they were working on a variety of projects and had to find people to pay for them. They also wanted to encourage collaboration and the museum society worked with other groups. The Town was about to celebrate its 50th Anniversary so the Museum had the bronze plaques at the top of the slope above the Train Station created. Some society members were also part of the restoration of the train station. Others were involved with the Downtown Revitalization.
The Civic Centre was about to open after heavy controversy about whether the community should build it or not. That didn’t stop Jim Storey, then President of the museum society from championing a piece of artwork for the lobby. The mural in the front lobby is still stunning. The wood and fibre scene of the waterfront was created locally. According to Jim’s files: carver, Francois Mongeau, working from his studio at The Old School House chose to work in yellow cedar, a wood common to the area. Weaver, Elaine Duncan was commissioned to work with Francois to complete the piece. The wood for the mural was donated by McMillan & Bloedel and the milling completed by Errington Cedar. The planks were kiln-dried by Barefoot Floors & Interiors.
“The (mural) theme is the Family; several generations of people relaxing and playing on Qualicum’s sandy waterfront. Francois felt it important to achieve a contemporary feeling so that future generations can look at the mural and catch a glimpse of the people of Qualicum Beach on the town’s fiftieth anniversary. “I’ve thought of this piece a hundred years from now – I’ve tried to portray the people of today as what was happening today. A lot of wood carvers go towards the ancestral look. I’m portraying a resort town; retirement place, but also a place for children and grandchildren.”
“A sensibility for the beauty of the area is shared by Elaine Duncan. Elaine’s weaving represents the sky, sea and sand of Qualicum’s arching beach. Working in 100% wool, designed to complement the wood work, Elaine was unable to fit the 16 foot piece onto a single loom. Instead she constructed five 39″ panels placed side-by-side, rich in the colours of Vancouver Island: blues and mauves, teal and taupe.”
As the museum’s MacIntosh building was being recreated, Jim Storey and others realized that they didn’t have enough display material yet to fill the building so Graham Beard was invited to display his paleontology collection in the building. It remains a big a draw for visitors to this day and Graham still sits on the board after doing his stint as President.
Past President, Jim Purdon recalls having just moved into his house and getting a visit from Ray Ducker, inviting him to come down the block to the museum. Word had gotten out that Jim was an experienced story teller who had worked at a national historic park. Jim replied that he had his house to restore, starting with getting a foundation under it. Next thing he knew, Ray showed up with a bunch of building jacks to loan him. When President Art Skipsey wanted to retire from the board, he went knocking on Jim’s door too. Jim took on the job of President. Gil Gilmore became Vice President and when Jim had an opportunity to travel one winter, Gil stepped up the plate and became acting President. Gil and his buddies are responsible for creating the interactive communications display in the original Power House museum building that is a huge hit with kids and adults alike.
It is with deep gratitude that the Qualicum Beach Historical and Museum Society recognizes the contributions of all of our volunteers – past and present. Every job is important as they all need to be done.