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Hudson's Hope Museum news: Living history

The right people in the right place make small towns what they are.
dave-kyllo
Dave Kyllo hard at work during construction of the Rutledge Heritage Building.

It’s taken me a lot longer to write this latest column than I expected, but felt the need to take my time with it.

This month, one of our oldest board members will be leaving the community, departing for White Rock after a lifetime in the Peace.

A big thank you to Dave Kyllo and all the work he’s done in advancing the museum and Hudson’s Hope over the years, it hasn’t gone unnoticed.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Dave, he was born in Vancouver but has called this area home for most of his 87 years.

He’s been a rancher, a cowboy, a river guide, an outfitter, construction worker on the WAC Bennett Dam, and secretary and treasurer for the Northern BC guides – a living pioneer and jack of all trades in more ways than one.

I was properly introduced to Dave when I first started volunteering for the Hudson’s Hope Historical Society, covering a heritage fair as a reporter and judging students’ projects.

Dave was always been the go-to man for local history knowledge, and volunteered countless hours repairing the historical buildings on our grounds – the Peck House, MacDonald Cabin, the machine shed, and creating the Rutledge Heritage Building from the ground up. 

He remains an avid outdoorsman, maintaining the Portage trail, Steam Vents, and many other areas around town by hand. In short, we couldn’t have done it without him – the right people in the right place make all the difference, especially in small towns.

In writing this, more tragic news came across my desk – long-time resident and rancher Dick Ardill passed away earlier this month.

As a journalist, I feel lucky to have met Dick. When I started freelancing in the pages of the Alaska Highway News, I had the opportunity to interview him on the early days of rodeos in Hudson’s Hope during the 1950s.

It was less flash and more grit back then, according to Dick - you were there for the thrill of the sport, not chasing money or fame. I feel like the world could use more grit these days. 

The Ardill Ranch remains a success story, celebrating 100 years last August. Dick took over as ranch manager in the 1960s from his father, Jack Ardill.

Jack was born in Ireland and immigrated to Canada in 1909 when he was only 19. He met his wife Betty in Holland during World War I and settled in Hudson’s Hope using a Homestead and Soldiers Grant.

The ranch was bare-bones in the beginning - a team of horses, a cow and calf, some chickens, a plow, a mowing machine, a rake, some furniture, a tent, and a year's worth of food supplies.

Today the ranch has 400 heads of cattle, horses to spare, modern equipment, and more – well deserving of a Century Farm Award. And it remains in the hands of good people, Dick’s daughter Renee manages the ranch with the help of family.

There’s a lot of legacy in Hudson’s Hope that people should be proud of, it’s what builds the community.

While I have the time, I’d like to thank our curator Elinor Morrissey for her hard work and dedication to building the museum up over the past decade – she’s done a phenomenal job and leaves huge shoes to fill.

She recently submitted her resignation, and will be moving south in September to Nelson, relocating to be closer to family with her husband John, who’s accepted a position as an electrical foreman at the Kootenay Canal. John’s helped the museum almost as much as she has.  

I’m privileged to have worked closely with Elinor both as museum staff and as a board member. The adage remains the same – the right people in the right place truly make all the difference.

There’s a lot to thank both Elinor and Dave for, and it’s impossible to fit it all into a single column. They’ll be missed.

On a lighter note, our next meeting and AGM is coming up soon - August 19, 2021 at 7pm at the museum.

Please consider joining our board, everyone is welcome. If you would like any further information, please call the Museum at (250) 783-5735 or by email at hhmuseum@pris.ca

Tom Summer is the President of the Hudson's Hope Historical Society.