Bernie Craggs (left) and Phyllis Gray with the old Ashcroft switchboard recently donated to the museum. Photo by Barbara Roden.

Bernie Craggs (left) and Phyllis Gray with the old Ashcroft switchboard recently donated to the museum. Photo by Barbara Roden.

Ashcroft Museum open house features a trip back in time

The event kicked off with an augmented reality history tour of Ashcroft.

The annual August Open House at the Ashcroft Museum took place on Saturday, August 18; but before that event took place, a group of 13 history buffs took the QuestUpon ( augmented reality walking tour of Ashcroft under the guidance of museum curator Kathy Paulos.

The tour started with a surprising sight steaming down the boardwalk near the Heritage Park on Railway, and continued throughout the village, with trivia questions, quests, and a chance to pose for photographs with some interesting animals and a stagecoach.

Most interestingly (for this participant) was the opportunity to use a smartphone to view Ashcroft as it used to be, with present-day buildings replaced by what used to be there. The Lady Minto Hospital, the old courthouse, Chinatown, the 1932 bridge, and the Ashcroft Hotel in flames on the night of July 6, 1916 were just a few of the long-gone buildings that could be viewed.

The open house followed at the museum, with 20 people taking a tour of the building and getting a glimpse of what it was originally built as: a public building housing the town’s post office, telegraph office, telephone exchange, and customs office. Philatelist Jim White was there with a display of early stamps, postcards, and cancel marks from Ashcroft’s history, as well as historical post office items such as hammers, a scale and weights, an inkstand, and more.

Former station master Rod Craggs, who is also a telegraph operator, was on hand to give a working demonstration of a telegraph operator’s apparatus, sending out messages in Morse Code. John Savage, whose father-in-law Bill Lumby worked for the Dominion Telegraph Company, was also there with items related to Ashcroft’s telegraph history.

Phyllis Gray and Bernie Craggs—both of whom worked in the Ashcroft telephone exchange—were there with the recently acquired Ashcroft telephone switchboard, which was donated to the museum earlier this year. They answered questions about the switchboard, and reminisced about their time working in the exchange, although Gray noted that “What happened in the exchange stayed in the exchange.”

A PowerPoint presentation put together by Paulos and her assistant Breana Paulos looked at the various locations of the post office (starting at Ashcroft Manor) through the years before the public building was constructed, and also looked at the town’s long fight to have the public building constructed in the first place.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable morning, rounded off with conversation, coffee, and treats. See you at next year’s open house!