The Ashcroft Visitor Centre, which was relocated to a spot beside the washrooms in the Heritage Park on Railway last summer, and reopened in June this year after a one year hiatus, is proving to be a huge hit with visitors.
In July of 2014—when it was open at its former location by the car wash at Railway and Highway 97C—the centre received 293 visitors. During the same period this year, the centre had a whopping 527 visitors, and Val Parks, the centre’s coordinator, is thrilled.
“Local people feel it’s an awesome location because of being located near the park, and visitors feel very welcome here and love the beautiful setting,” she says. “They’re amazed by the number of things to do here, and it’s fun to tell them about things like the new glass mosaics.
“‘Beautiful’ is the word we hear the most,” she continues. “And we hear from a lot of people about how wonderfully clean the washrooms are.”
She adds that many visitors to town are looking specifically for the Chinese cemetery, which can clearly be seen from the centre’s new location. “And people ask about the history. We give them the brochure of the historic walking tour around Ashcroft, and send them on to the museum.”
More about the Ashcroft Chinese cemetery
The partnership is clearly working out. In July 2015 the Ashcroft Museum recorded 293 visitors, while July of 2016 saw 390 visitors come through the door.
“I’m happily surprised by how many people come down here off the highway,” says volunteer Alice Durksen. She notes that while the number of visitors from the U.S. appears to be down this year, there are a lot of European visitors, mostly from Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium.
“I love hearing people’s stories,” says Durksen. A number of visitors either used to live here or had family here, and Durksen says that at least two of the volunteers who staff the centre have lived here for many years and know a lot of the town’s old families.
She agrees that the change in location for the centre has definitely been a success. “Having it in the prettiest place in town is wonderful.” Having the park close by is a boon for families with children, although Parks notes that among visitors, dogs seem to outnumber children.
Parks says that she and her volunteer staff want to thank the Village of Ashcroft for its support. “I’m always going in the village office,” says Parks. “The help in getting brochures to stock the centre was great. I sent a list of brochures I wanted to [CAO] Michelle [Allen], and we got them. That support is invaluable. We have a lot more brochures than before.”
She adds that the Village of Ashcroft colouring books have been a big hit with visiting families. “The parents are really happy to get a colouring book for their kids.”
The visitor centre will be open through the September long weekend, and Parks and Durksen invite residents to come by and take a look. “Local people are welcome,” says Parks. “And if you have visitors, bring them down.”