Skip to content

Fort St. John museum news

Our collections storage room is a jigsaw puzzle these days as we reorganize it to make room for all the hardcopies of more recent newspapers (1976-2006) the Alaska Highway has generously donated.
FSJMuseumArchives-2016.065.608
Local photographer Rudy Schubert captured this image, likely the 95th Engineering Regiment, who built the Sikanni Chief Bridge. Rudy notes on the back of this negative, “Stakes beyond the truck would suggest the truck had been following the markers for an ice road when he went through the ice." Three of seven regiments involved in the construction of the highway were made up of African American Soldiers. February marks the start of Black History month. To learn more about the involvement of African Americans in the construction of the Alaska Highway, try the books We Fought the Road or Signposts and Promises.

Our collections storage room is a jigsaw puzzle these days as we reorganize it to make room for all the hardcopies of more recent newspapers (1976-2006) the Alaska Highway has generously donated. We’re in the process of scanning these newspapers (more than halfway done 1980 now – 36 years scanned so far) and then all the originals are being housed in acid free boxes on shelves. We’re making progress, but fitting everything in can be challenging at times! 

Our January grants are complete, our new permanent aviation exhibit is up, and we have lots on the go this year from our ongoing project to scan, catalogue, and identify the Schubert negatives (a huge collection of local photographer Rudy Schubert’s images from the mid-1900s) to the home stretch of finishing the Allen House restoration and installing exhibits and interpretive signs in the house.

Exhibits

• Soaring Over the North Peace (On now at the Fort St. John North Peace Museum)

Fasten your seat belts and get ready to soar through the aviation history of the North Peace Region of British Columbia. From a 1935 mercy flight to the creation of Canadian Pacific Airlines and from bush pilots to helicopters, this new permanent exhibit looks at how aviation transformed the history of our area. Did you know Fort St. John’s control tower was once deemed “Canada’s Worst Tower” or that bush pilot Jimmy Anderson used the Alaska Highway as his landing strip? Find out what growing up in the airport community was like in the 1950s. Trace our aviation history through historic photographs, suitcases, equipment, maps, personal recollections, and more. Discover the challenges and opportunities flying in the north presented. 

 Exhibits in Progress: Our intern, Magellan Dufour, is working with Doig River First Nation on an exhibit on Indigenous place names for our display case at the airport. Look for it in late March/early April. We’re working on incorporating a beautiful lynx diorama and large bison photograph into our fur trade/animals exhibit in February and will be working on developing more information on local natural history in our exhibits over the course of our current three-year strategic plan (2022-2024).

Events

• Family Day Weekend Take Home Aviation Kit (February 18 & 19 *pending funding through the BC Government/BCMA (follow our Facebook Page for updates)

Get ready for take off this Family Day Weekend! In celebration of our new permanent aviation exhibit, Soaring Over the North Peace, we are offering families a chance to connect to local history and try three hands-on aviation activities through a FREE take-home aviation kit. This kit contains a fun fact sheet about aviation in the North Peace (including historic photos, stories, and cool facts); two templates – a rotocopter and a paper airplane template; and a plastic flying prop along with assembly instructions and an explanation of the science behind how these three items fly. This activity is designed to get children and parents thinking about the science behind flight and learning more about the importance of aviation in the northeast long before roads or railways linked us to the rest of British Columbia. Kits are one per child (to be done with parental assistance) and are best suited for children ages 2 and up.

Archives

We didn’t quite break our record for archival inquiries in 2021 (we fell four short of our 2016 record of 144). We’ve got 10 inquiries so far this year. If you have a question about local history, we might be able to help! Reach out to us at 250-787-0430 or fsjmarchives@fsjmail.com or pop by the museum.

Collections Management

We’re beginning work on processing a donation of some marvelous photographs taken by American Charles Dees during the construction of the Alaska Highway (1942-1944). There are some real gems for us in Fort St. John within this collection including a fantastic photograph of our post office at the time (where Freedom Physiotherapy is now). This is the only photograph we have that focuses on that building (i.e. it’s not just faintly in the background). We’re scanning these photographs and then will share them with other museums/archives along the highway who are interested.

Gift Shop

With inventory complete, we’ve been ordering a mix of history books we were nearly out of and new books. St. Michael’s Residential School: Lament & Legacy contains the memories of Nancy Dyson and Dan Rubenstein who were hired as childcare workers at this residential school in Alert Bay, BC, in 1970. They were shocked by what they witnessed and their story calls for justice, equality, reconciliation, and a new way forward. The York Factory Express: Fort Vancouver to Hudson Bay, 1826-1849 looks at the journey of the York Factory Express through the words of Scottish traders and clerks who wrote about this rapid communication route that connected Hudson Bay to the Pacific coast.


Heather Sjoblom is manager and curator of the Fort St. John North Peace Museum.