Back in 2002, a man with a big heart and an open mind walked into the museum, a donation in hand.
He had lived a long and hard life, but something interesting had just happened – he came across a rather extraordinary rock.
He showed his neighbours, and jokers that they were they told him: ‘Well, it’s a fossil… a fossil potato.’
And with his open heart and mind, this man thought: ‘Well, it belongs in a museum.’
So he brought it to us at the Maple Ridge Museum, and with equally large hearts, the student workers here at the time saw the hope in his eyes and gratefully took his donation.
While, sadly, there is no such thing as a fossil potato, the rock bears a striking resemblance to our favorite starchy side dish. It now lives in our local geology exhibit case as an example of things not always being what they appear.
At the museum, we do more than collect and catalogue old photos and artifacts; we are the keepers of Maple Ridge’s history, its personality, and its heart.
This “potato rock” is just one example of the sometimes weird and wacky things in our collection, all representing the culture and people of Maple Ridge. While other museums would look at this round river rock and dismiss it as just a rock taking up space, our museum has integrated it into our collection, because sometimes our job here as the keepers of the past is more about local ministry than anything.
Every day we talk to local people about their history, their family history, and their connection to our community. Whether their families have been here for a hundred years or if they have just moved here, they can find a connection to the past and Maple Ridge here at the museum.
While we are now hard pressed for space to store our collections and are particular about what donations we are able to take and store, we are still so happy we accepted our potato rock.
It not only means a lot to us as a symbol of our community, but the elderly man who brought it here would proudly bring his great-grandchildren here every year to see what he contributed to the museum and that connection to the community we serve is priceless.
We may be small, but we have a big heart, and, yes, that heart may be potato-shaped, but I, and everyone here, are proud to work for a museum that values the people of the community above all.
Shea Henry is curator of the Maple Ridge Museum.