Looking back: Maple Ridge Museum’s past, present, future
From the outside, the Maple Ridge Museum and Archives building looks much the same as it did upon opening 30 years ago.
The interior space of the manager’s house for Haney Brick and Tile Co. that serves as our community museum is basically the same as before, with small rooms that can display only a fraction of the museum collection and inadequate office and working space.
Donations that cannot be displayed are stored in two other locations, both inaccessible to the public.
Changes to the displays in the main floor of the museum include several cabinets with better lighting.
The small front room of the museum has a regularly changing display on a different theme each time.
One of the most popular recent displays was about dolls and toys, leading to more historic donations.
One way of bring the museum to the public is through the regular displays in the Maple Ridge library showcases.
During the summer months, these displays are researched and created by student workers at the museum.
In August, you could discover photos and information about our oldest churches in the district.
On the lower floor of the museum, you can enter the world of the Dewdney-Alouette Railway Society, partners with the Maple Ridge Historical Society in establishing the museum.
We could not possibly afford to have created this historically accurate railway layout, complete with heritage buildings and landscape, but members of the society have researched early photos to make this fascinating active display, complete now with sound effects.
When the museum first opened, this layout was in its early stages. Nowadays, group members are on hand the last Sunday of each month to meet the public and show off their creations.
Since Val Patenaude took over as curator of the Maple Ridge Museum 20 years ago, she set to work to computerize all the records. The photo collection has grown enormously, and email enquiries from all over the world and our own district hall can be answered with relative ease, thanks to our digital index.
The archival information collection is now more available to the public, thanks to the co-operation of the Maple Ridge library, which offers duplicate files so people can access them any time.
What will be the future of the Maple Ridge museum? We have high hopes of a larger and more usable building that could better serve the public, tourists and school groups.
As in many communities, a better location in the centre of town would lead to much greater visitation.
At our 40th anniversary of the start of the museum and the 30th anniversary on the present location, a disturbing number of people admitted they had never visited it before, and some had no idea Maple Ridge even had a museum.
We could do so much better for all of you, given the chance.
Sheila Nickols is past president of the Maple Ridge Historical Society.