Curator’s Corner

J.D. Jeffery

The Windermere District Historical Society moved into the 1970s with one building, a small library, and a growing collection of artifacts in just 12 years of becoming independent from the Board of Trade.

With more and more artifacts being collected to preserve valley history the question that kept coming up was what to do now?  With no room and a rejection letter from the CPR not agreeing to giving the old train station to the museum, the only thing to do is to look for another building, of course.  

With some determination, the members of the society shifted their focus to a building just down the street; located in the current parking lot in front of the Food Bank was the old Legion.

The Legion Building was built in 1919 as a memorial to the veterans of the First World War and was the first clubhouse for the Great War Veterans Association, later changing their name to the Royal Canadian Legion. The Legion built another clubhouse in 1955 on 13th Street so the original building was sold to the school board to provide additional classroom space that was in high demand. The school district later assessed the need for more classrooms and built a new high school; that left the original Legion building standing empty.

At the same time, the museum still had a problem with no space and took the chance to approach the school board with the offer to purchase the Legion building. On July 29, 1970 the deal was completed with one dollar being exchanged for the building. Arrangements were made to move the building to Pothole Park beside the Pioneer Cabin and display cases were set up that were donated by prominent families from some of the early settlers: Blakley, Cleland, McKay, Sole, Tegart, Walker, and Watkins.  With the new space to allow for more artifacts to be put on display there was now more workspace for the preservation of the artifacts that needed some attention.

In a few years, things changed again for the museum that changed the society in many ways that no one ever counted on.

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