What a pleasure it was to read the piece by contributor Wendy Maurer on the history pertaining to the 30th anniversary of the Qualicum Beach Historical and Museum Society (The NEWS, Sept. 23).
It evoked memories of a very important time in Qualicum Beach history — a time when grass-roots collaboration brought about many positive changes that would become milestones in the town’s story.
The article carefully acknowledged the many who contributed to these changes, and highlighted a few. Jim Storey and Ray Ducker were an indomitable pair — true community builders, with very supportive spouses. The described unexpected appearances of Jim Storey brought a smile, as he did indeed appear on behalf of many causes. Almost a year after arrival, I found myself as the manager of the fledgling Old School House, knee-deep in the fundraising needed to keep it afloat. My introduction to Jim Storey was his arrival with a generous offer. He would lend us “the snow white sheets from the Snow White Motel” to be used as table cloths for the silent auction tables at TOSH’s art auction fundraiser. Jim renewed the offer every year until the Snow White Motel was sold and then TOSH inherited the magic sheets in its own right.
Art and Cora Skipsey were also great TOSH supporters. Each year boxes of Cora’s beautiful Royal Albert China arrived to be used at the November Victorian Tea. The Skipsey influence created a liaison with the ladies from the museum society who donned their costumes to serve tea at that function. Their presence at this affair continues to this day!
My husband and I arrived in Qualicum Beach in February 1988, just as The Old School House was opening and we were unaware of the story of its salvation from the wrecking ball. Being shown the town by a friend and turning right off Memorial onto Fern, the vision of this amazing old building so beautifully restored was breathtaking. It was like the Taj Mahal at the edge of a very small commercial town centre. Qualicum Foods occupied its current location but was a smallish unimposing wooden structure.
The next few years were exciting with the Eagle Park Health Care Facility being built and the Civic Centre on stream by 1992. The community was abuzz and many projects were spearheaded by service groups.
It wasn’t long before the town hired a consultant who spent considerable time with every business and non-profit organization to learn from individuals their vision for the town’s future. This was the beginning of the downtown revitalization that shaped what the town looks like today. Although a time of collaboration and extreme good will, it was not without controversy. The appearance of the current Town Hall came under criticism and the term that it looked like the Taj Mahal was applied, but this time in a negative context. Today, we are very proud of it.
The museum article takes one back to a time when change was embraced, when the past was appreciated and honoured, and the town looked to joining the past with a better more attractive future. So many wonderful new facilities have been incorporated into the town since those days. It was a time when differences of opinion weren’t expressed with barbed personal comments. Might we hope that we can create that atmosphere once again? I hope so.