By J.D. Jeffery                                                 

I have covered history of many different places in the valley but not the museum’s history itself.  

With this multi-part article, I will cover the museum’s history and how some things have evolved over the years to become the place it is today.

A couple of years ago the museum received funding to create a display; and part of it was used to update the History of the Museum display that includes the buildings. Over the next couple of articles, I will highlight that history including all 11 buildings. Each one has its own story, when it was built, where it was located before arriving at the museum grounds, and other details that are of some interest.

To tell the story, I found going back to the start was the best place to begin.  In 1956 the museum group was just a humble Historical Committee on the Windermere District Board of Trade. The following year, in 1957, the museum started building its library collection with an assortment of documents and five books all related to the valley. The titles consisted of “David Thompson’s Narrative” published in 1916 by the Champlain Society, “Where the Clouds Can Go” written by Conrad Kain, “A Ramble in B.C. in 1887” by Lees and Clutterbuck, “The Map Maker” by Kerry Wood and “Fir and Gold in the Kootenays” by Clara Graham. At this time there was no home base for the museum, so the books were housed in the Village of Invermere’s office. If you wanted to read the books you had to speak to the first curator/librarian at that time, Major T.C. Bell O.B.E.

With a growing interest in the valley’s history, the Historical Committee established itself as a separate society. It was officially formed as the Windermere District Historical Society with T.N. Weir as its charter president.

In the next article: the beginning of the museum grounds and the story of the most moved building at the museum.