Last week I had occasion to visit several historic places in our region, when I went on a familiarization tour of Clinton organized by the Gold Country Communities Society, and then covered the opening of the Lytton Chinese Museum. I visited the Ashcroft Museum during that week as well, which makes it sound like an afterthought, although it isn’t; it’s just that I’m pretty familiar with that museum, which couldn’t be said of the other sites.
In Clinton I was able to visit the museum, which I’d only been in once, and was reminded of what a charming place it is, teeming with fascinating displays and artefacts. The old livery stable out back is likewise jam-packed with things to see, including the cutter that Dr. George Sanson used to make the long trip from Ashcroft to Clinton (and out into the surrounding district) more than 100 years ago.
A cautionary note must be sounded, however, and it’s to do with the phrase “livery stable” mentioned above. The museum had not yet opened for the season when I visited last week, and the livery stable was closed up tight until we arrived. Normally the doors are left wide open when the museum is in full swing, which perhaps explains why on this recent trip my nostrils were assailed with a strong—odour, shall we say, that I had not noticed on my previous visit.
Our guide, Andy May of the South Cariboo Historical Museum Society, commented on the, er, aroma, noting that the building had been full of horses for many years; and that while no horses had been inside for more than half-a-century, their presence lingers on, captured forever in the wooden floor. Note to self: visit when the doors have been opened long enough to give the building a good airing.
We also visited the Clinton Pioneer Cemetery, which I had never been to; and a lovely spot it is, although a trifle chilly on an unseasonable May day. Small, bright purple Russian irises were starting to pop up all over, contrasting nicely with the yellow dandelions and bright green grass. Many notable Clinton residents are interred there, including David Stoddart, Reg Conn, and Peg Marriott (the last person buried in the cemetery), and it is well worth a visit.
Then it was down to Lytton on May 13, because it isn’t every day that you get to be present at the opening of a new museum. This one (as you can read about on page 12 of this week’s paper) commemorates Lytton’s Chinese community and the Chinese heritage of the area, and has been a labour of love for Lorna Fandrich who, with her husband Bernie and the help of many others, has created a true gem that is certain to become a popular spot for visitors.
All these places are a reminder that history is all around us, and far from being some dead, dry thing is vibrant and alive, informing us of our past so that we can better understand our present. I have often been asked, during the four-and-a-half years I have been writing my “Golden Country” column, if I ever think I will run out of things to write about. My answer is always “No”, because we live in an area rich in history, and every byway leads to others. Check this history out for yourself in our communities; you’ll be glad you did.