Every year is a good year at the Ashcroft Museum

Visitor numbers may have been down slightly this year, but you don't need big numbers to have fun at the Museum.

It’s always an interesting summer at the Ashcroft Museum, says curator Kathy Paulos.

She says numbers were down this year, which she blames on the heat – everyone she talked to said they were heading out of town to be by “the lake”.

“It was only a couple of hundred fewer [than last year],” she said, “but we like to go up every year, not down.”

This summer the Museum also took on the temporary role of the Ashcroft tourist booth. Property next to the little tourist booth downtown next to the car wash changed hands and driving access to the building was cut off. The building has now been moved to Heritage Place Park.

“It wasn’t bad having the tourists here because it was a quieter year, but I think the volunteers [who staff the booth] missed it.”

Paulos says they didn’t have any bus tours this year, but they had local school groups and groups of local historians.

One of the Museum’s highlights of 2015 was the Open House in August that featured Ashcroft’s Chinatown. The Open House was very well attended, with first-hand information provided by long time Ashcroft resident Loyd Wongs.

The next heritage event will be in February for BC Heritage Week. Their topic is “Distinctive Destinations”, but Paulos says they don’t have specific plans yet for what to feaure.

Fantastic donations and descendants of Ashcroft pioneers were the among the best parts of the year, she says.

“We always get interesting visitors.”

This summer she had descendants of the Cummings, McAbees and Christie families.

“I love it when the descendants come back,” she says. “Reg Christie was the surveyor for the Walhachin flume. They tell me a story and I usually tell them a story.

One of T.A. (Tom) Cummings descendants asked her if the Museum had any information on him.

Tom was wner/publisher of the Ashcroft Journal after inheriting it from his father. R.D. Cumming. The Museum was established in 1936 by R.D. Cumming, who had collected many artifacts throughout his time at the newspaper, and has a large display of Journal artifacts.

“I was able to fill him in,” she says, without going into details.

Twenty-one First Nations baskets were donated from Bill and Bernie Kershaw of Barriere. Bernie is descendant of former Ashcroft resident Arthur Haddock.

Paulos says 10 of the basiets were on display this year, and the rest will be out next year. First they have to be catalogued.

“One realy neat thing,” she said, “is that John Haugen from Lytton came to share his knowledge about them – where some of them were from, what they were used for.”

She found out that a couple of the baskets are from the Chilcoutin and that is rare because the First Nations there didn’t do a lot of coil baskets. Paulos says she is hoping to feature the baskets next year in some type of event.

Another donation this year came in the form of a beautiful 1906 wedding dress that belonged to Ethel More, who married in England and moved to Clinton/Ashcroft area. Her husband worked for the highways.

The Museum was also the recipient this year of a oval glass portrait of John Dawson “Ole” Evans in his WWI uniform. Evans enlisted in 1917 and was wounded, ending up in the hospital where it was discovered that he was only 14 year old.

His grand daughter on Vancouver Island also donated a bean pot, crock pot and a turkey platter from the Evans family homestead.

The Museum was also given a curious little flyer from June 9th, 1906, claiming on the front to be The Dailing Mining Journal (the forerunner to The Journal) but seemed to be a program for a night of tongue-in-cheek entertainment, including live songs and music, and recitations from The Daily Journal.

“Charley Deans is sill a bachelor and has had more disappointments in love affairs than any one in tow. He is now suffering from an income of $10,000 a year made in Ashcroft real estate and is dyspeptic.” is one of the flyer’s entries.

“Fred Tingley went into railroading and is now one of the men that shout ‘all aboard for Cariboo’ on the Ashcroft and Fort Simpson line.” and

“The Brysoe Brothers left here about the time of the stage robbery on the Cariboo road. You no doubt read abou the $100,000 hold-up, bullion being shipped down from the South Fork mine in the spring of ‘96. At last reports they were in South Amierica and seemed to be well supplied with funds.” are just some of the many paragraphs written about prominent Ashcroft residents.

Paulos says the research into the history of local events and people is fun, and provides background when donations are offered.

Whether the Museum accepts a donation depends on what it is and where it’s from. She says space is limited, so if it isn’t from  that if it isn’t from Ashcroft, or unique to the area, she suggests to the donors that they take it to a more appropriate museum. It’s no good to anyone if it’s just going to be stored in the basement, she says.

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