It was 40 years ago that a small community museum was created in a corner of the public library, back when the latter was part of the old arena complex.
It represented a first success in a crusade that had been underway for decades.
The first mention of a prospective museum was in 1941, when the school district decided it had no further use for the original Maple Ridge school building, which had also been used as the first municipal council meeting place.
Having been built in 1876, the building likely had too many structural problems to be used.
When the historical society formed in 1957, a museum was top of its wish list.
Items were being collected and held in the homes of people like Ernie Adair, Ed Villiers and Gordon Byrnell.
For a time, the St. Andrews heritage church building was the focus of attention, but for a number of reasons, that plan fell through.
During the decade that the museum spent in the library, being manned by curators Francis Sinclair, Daphne Sleigh and Sheila Nickols, the former brickyard buildings came to the attention of the Maple Ridge Historical Society.
On Aug. 8, 1984, with much fanfare and a community celebration, the museum moved into the former brickyard manager’s house overlooking the Haney Bypass.
Our partner in the building from the beginning has been the Dewdney-Alouette Railway Society, whose diorama is a wonder to behold. Long-time manager and member Dick Sutcliffe has also sat on the museum board since the opening.
It is now 30 years later and next weekend, on Aug. 10, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. there will be a 40th birthday celebration for the museum and all the ‘history makers’ who have contributed so much to its development.
Plan to join us for historical displays, musical entertainment, free tours of the museum – where nearly all the displays are new – and, of course, birthday cake.
Food vendors will also be on site.
DARS members will also be present to show off their diorama and the 1944 caboose.
At 2:30 p.m., Gary Comeau and the Voodoo Allstars will take the stage with their New Orleans style rockin’ roots and blues.
Remember to bring blankets or lawn chairs for the concert.
The other big celebration of the day is all about this: Nickols has been writing the “Looking Back” column for the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News since 1987.
At the birthday event, we will have copies of our first volume of columns from 1987 to 1991, with more information and photos added to each column from materials that have been collected for the community archives in the years since.
The columns cover a wide range of topics, from celebrations to buildings to businesses to individual family stories.
Many columns include material from conversations with pioneer residents who are no longer with us or are about buildings that are now fading memories.
Nickols will be at the event signing copies, so come and get them, hot off the presses.
We want to thank The News and a long line of editors who have supported this column and our community’s history for the past 27 years.
Val Patenaude is director of the Maple Ridge Museum.