Chemainus Valley Museum
"Chemainus is itself almost a living museum, it unashamedly displays it`s history on the walls of the town and has become a major tourist attraction on Vancouver Island. It also has a small museum in Waterwheel Park which has many interesting artifacts on display. Of note are items attributed to Bob Swanson during his tenure as mill engineer. Mr. Swanson was famous for his work on air horns, for example, the horns atop the old B.C. Hydro building in Vancouver that play O'Canada at noon. He was also the major moving force behind the refurbishing of the Royal Hudson locomotive that now hauls excursions to Squamish from West Vancouver."
OPEN: Tuesday to Sundays 10am-3pm
LOCATION: McMillan - Waterwheel Park in downtown Chemainus
CONTACT: email@example.com 250- 246-2445
Johanna Reymerink and Eric Veistrup of the Chemainus Valley Historical Society show off the plans for the new and improved Chemainus Museum during a recent open house.
Historical photo donated to Chemainus Valley Museum
The Chemainus and District Chamber of Commerce
recently presented a photo of Chemainus from the
early 1970s to the museum.
BC LOCAL NEWS
Dec. 30, 2013 2:00 p.m.
by LINDSAY CHUNG
Money being raised to expand Chemainus Valley Museum
The Chemainus Valley Historical Society is raising money to improve and
expand the museum at Waterwheel Park.
The Chemainus Valley Historical Society is raising money to improve and expand
the museum at Waterwheel Park.The home of history in Chemainus is about to get
an extreme makeover, thanks to the efforts of the Chemainus Valley Historical
The society is currently fundraising an estimated $500,000 to expand and improve
the museum at Waterwheel Park, a three-year project they hope to get off the
ground in the spring.
To date, they have raised just over $65,000 through private donations and hope to up
that through fundraising and grant writing.
“We need more storage; we’re bursting out of the seams,” Johanna Reymerink, president of the Chemainus Valley Historical Society, said of the current building.
The expansion project will be completed in three phases and when finished, will double the exhibition area and the storage areas of the museum for a total of 4,500 square feet added to the building.
Phase one of the expansion consists of the construction of the sub-level at an estimated cost of $60,000. This sub-level is the foundation and base of the new expansion and will give the society a bonus multi-purpose room.
Phase two will consist of the construction of the outer walls and roof of the new expansion, including both the basement and main levels. There will also be an elevator installed. An estimated start time for phase two is by the end of 2013, aiming for completion by the end of 2014.
Phase three will be the joining of the old with the new museum, finishing and remodeling all areas and reorganizing all displays.
Eric Veistrup Chemainus Valley Historical Society vice-president, says the society is aiming to have all of the work complete in 2016 in time for the 25th anniversary of the original Chemainus Museum opening.
“We are going to have one of the most attractive museums on Vancouver Island, there’s no doubt about that,” he said.
Veistrup, the architect of the original building built in 1991, said the project will not only mean better storage and more display space for the museum, but it will also be a great improvement within Waterwheel Park.
“We’re trying to keep it as a small town forest theme,” he said. “It fits in with the park with all the trees.”
He added that the addition of space for an information centre is being negotiated.
In 2011, the Chemainus Museum had a total of 25,697 visitors from March to December. As of Oct. 1, there had been a total of 26,372 visitors to the museum since March.
Anyone interested in helping fundraise for the project can contact the Chemainus Valley Historical Society at 250-246-2445 or
visit the museum’s website.
LADYSMITH CHEMAINUS CHRONICLE/NEWS
Oct. 30, 2012 7:00 p.m.
by NIOMI PEARSON
Expanded Chemainus Valley Museum reopens
Big team behind the scenes makes all the necessary arrangements
The expanded Chemainus Valley Museum re-opened March 1 with new and reconfigured displays.
Volunteers have been busy redesigning the museum within its new space since Dec. 15, according to Amy Trippe Brophy, president of the Chemainus Valley Historical Society and Museum.
“We welcome the community to come and visit the ‘new’ museum and get re-acquainted with our wonderful history,” noted Brophy. “Tourist numbers are picking up with spring on the horizon and early reviews are very positive. We continue to adjust exhibits as we live in our new space, and welcome visitors’ comments and suggestions. The public can look forward to new and more inclusive displays, new technology and events as we enjoy telling stories new and old, connecting Chemainus Valley today with our rich past.”
She added tremendous thanks are due to Chemainus Fire Department men and women who gladly stepped forward and helped move heavy artifacts and cases several times. Eric Veistrup, along with contractor Ken Stanton, managed the construction project over the past five-plus years; Norma Greer spearheaded the lion’s share of fundraising, supported by treasurer Johanna van Barneveld; logging historian Sandy Macham offered his expertise along with former MacMillan Bloedel employee Doug Simmonds; the planning committee of Val Galvin, Darcie Edwards, Linda Tucker and Brophy executed the move and redesign; Galvin’s friends and family also stepped up handily to the task to meet the March 1 opening; and Peggy Allen-Newman provided invaluable guidance with her display expertise along with her creative and educational window displays facing Waterwheel Plaza for numerous years.
New members and volunteers are always welcomed. The museum’s spring hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.
Mar. 5, 2019 10:30 a.m.
Photo from Museum's collection
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The Museum in the News
Gabi Jones and Anjilee Manhas put a protective coat on their completed 5 Cent Candy Bar War Mural.
Newest Chemainus mural a collaborative effort
Story of the 5 Cent Chocolate Bar War depicted
It’s a collaborative effort in the truest sense of the word.
The new 5 Cent Candy Bar War Mural for the outdoor gallery
brought together many different facets of the community, including
the Chemainus Festival of Murals Society, Cowichan Neighbourhood
House, the Chemainus Valley Museum, Chemainus Secondary
School students and others.
“That’s why it’s such a collaborative effort,” stressed Chemainus
Valley Museum board member Amy Brophy, who helped facilitate
“We’re going to have an unveiling of several new murals in our
community series and this will be one of them,” said Shannon Bellamy,
vice president of the Festival of Murals Society.
That’s expected to take place in late September, hopefully to coincide with another in the historical series.
Gabi Jones and Anjilee Manhas, two recent Chemainus Secondary School grads, added a protective coat to the mural as a finishing touch to the project. The girls worked on the mural for the past two years in their spare time under the direction of Chemainus Secondary teacher Craig Miller and with coaching tips from artist and Chemainus Festival of Murals Society curator Cim MacDonald.
The mural was started more than five years ago by three youths at the Cowichan Neighbourhood House: Kerry Onoshuko, Stephen Robinson and Stephen Sylvester. Arlene Robinson originally spearheaded the project.
The Chemainus Festival of Murals Society will frame the mural.
The scene in the 5 Cent Candy Bar War mural depicts an historic event about Chemainus youth based on an April 1947 Chemainus newspaper picture. This is the first mural to be painted by Chemainus youth.
The story goes back to the spring of 1947 when food rationing was lifted in Canada after the Second World War and prices started rising. Ladysmith high school student Parker Williams was shocked when he entered the Wigwam Cafe on First Avenue to buy some candy and discovered chocolate bar prices were raised from 5 cents to 8 cents. This was beyond the reach of most youth’s weekly allowance. Parker organized a protest and parade in front of the Wigwam and it soon spread in front of Dwyer’s Confectionary on Maple Street in Chemainus.
Ladysmith &Chemainus newspaper reporter Mollie Robinson captured Chemainus school girls protesting in front of Dwyer’s. Robinson’s niece Nancy and a few girlfriends posed for the picture with ice cream cones that became a symbol of the strike since they still cost only 5 cents.
In less than a week, protests moved around Vancouver Island, including a large one in front of the provincial capital building in Victoria that forced the legislature to close for the day, then over to Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg and all the way across Canada to Ontario and Quebec.
Thousands of children boycotted stores, resulting in sales dropping dramatically overnight. Slogans and songs were created like: ‘Candy is Dandy but 8 cents isn’t Handy’ and ‘We want a 5 cent chocolate bar, 8 cents is going too darn far.’
Parents joined schoolchildren in campaigning against the 8 cent chocolate bar. However, the strike was short-lived when a Toronto newspaper ran an editorial revealing one of the organizations endorsing the candy bar protest was a labor union group partially funded by the Canadian Communist Party. Almost overnight, police, clergy, local governments and organizations withdrew their support and asked members not to cooperate with the ‘red’ protests.
Arlene Robinson thought it would be a good project for Chemainus youth to paint a mural that highlights a story about youth in the area. She chose the 5 Cent Candy Bar War as a great local and Canadian story, and found an old newspaper picture that looked like a good image to paint.
The Mural Society provided the proper mural board, but the project stalled when the youth moved away. A few years ago, Brophy volunteered to help the Cowichan Neighbourhood House move out of its old home in the former firehall before it was demolished and was introduced to the partially complete mural in the process.
Given her interest in Chemainus history as a new member of the Chemainus Valley Museum, Brophy offered to figure out a way to get the mural completed and mounted. That’s when she contacted art teacher Miller and he found two willing students in Manhas and Jones, who were Grade 11 students at the time.
They worked on the mural during their free time in Grades 11 and 12. “Last year I contacted the Mural Society to let them know the mural was being worked on again and I’d keep in touch with the progress,” Brophy indicated.
The executive of the Mural Society viewed the mural in the spring and MacDonald offered to help coach the girls on a few artistic techniques to allow them to advance their skills and complete the mural.
Brophy will be working with the Mural Society to find a suitable frame and then identifying the date to mount the mural on the building where the Cowichan Neighbourhood House is now situated.
CHEMAINUS COURIER/LOCAL NEWS
Aug. 31, 2017 10:15 a.m.
by DON BODGER
We're a great little museum. Don't just take our word! Read a few reviews of us:
Another mill artifact finds a place in Chemainus museum
Famous door salvaged from storage holds a special significance for former manager Dobson
Opportunity knocked and a valuable door that’s a big part of Chemainus history is now on display at the Chemainus Valley Museum. The Museum recently installed the old Chemainus sawmill door in the new addition, with the help of muscle power from Chemainus firefighters. Former MacMillan Bloedel Chemainus sawmill manager Phil Dobson, who still comes to town from West Vancouver frequently for regular monthly retiree breakfast gatherings, was pleased to see the door put on display.The door remained at the new Western Forest Products mill office site for a while before being taken out. Former mill employee Doug Simmonds and cousin Ken Simmonds were instrumental in having the door brought out of storage.Fortunately, the door was saved and stored so it can now be enjoyed by the public.
Eric Veistrup and Amy Brophy arranged for the firefighters to help move it into the display. Dobson always gets a chance to reminisce with many former employees from around the region – Chemainus, Ladysmith, Duncan and Nanaimo – during the breakfasts from October through May that have been going for 18 years with usually around 24 in attendance.
“Everybody thought highly of him,” said Doug Simmonds of Dobson.The breakfasts have been held at various locations over the years, but are currently at the Horseshoe Bay Cafe in Chemainus.
The mill’s whistle and time clock are not in this display yet as they have not been moved from the old section of the museum, according to Brophy. The museum will be closing for the holidays Dec. 17 and reopening around Feb. 1, 2019 which will provide time to move and update or redo displays in the addition and welcome visitors through the new entrance.
printed in the Chemainus Courier Dec. 17, 2018 11:10 a.m.
If this door could talk, what tales it would tell and former Chemainus sawmill manager Phil Dobson could readily recount a few memories. (Photo submitted)
Five Cent Candy Bar War subject of new
A nationwide rebellion sparked by sweet-toothed Ladysmith
youth is the subject of a new Chemainus mural set to be
installed in the alley behind Cowichan Neighbourhood House.
Recent Chemainus Secondary grads Gabi Jones and
Anjilee Manhas were in Grade 11 art class together in 2016
when the idea was pitched to carry on the unfinished work
three youth from the community resource centre (Kerry
Onoshuko, Stephen Robinson and Stephen Sylvester) had
started five years ago.
The teens had both been interested in painting a mural for the town and this
Chemainus Festival of Murals Society project allowed them to get started right away.
“We’re both artistic and like painting so we thought it would be cool to do a mural together because then we can leave a mark on the town,” Jones said.
She and Manhas worked in their spare time for about a year and a half under the direction of art teacher Craig Miller and guidance from artist and mural society curator Cim McDonald.
The artwork known as the 5 Cent Candy Bar War Mural, which will form part of a new series to be unveiled by mural society in the near future, was on display at the Chemainus Valley Museum on Wednesday before the girls put a final protective coat to finish off their masterpiece.
“The idea was that it’s supposed to be a mural about the youth, made by the youth,” Manhas added. “It was really interesting learning about that part of our history that we hadn’t heard before.”
The Candy Bar Strike, or Candy Bar War as it’s also often referred to, occurred in the spring of 1947 when food rationing was lifted following the Second World War.
A Ladysmith youth organized a protest outside the Wigwam Cafe after chocolate bars were raised from 5 cents to 8 cents and soon others in Chemainus followed suit in front of Dwyer’s Confectionery on Maple Street, according to Amy Brophy, board member of the Chemainus Valley Museum.
The mural is inspired from a photo taken by Chemainus Courier reporter Mollie Robinson and shows her niece Nancy with a few other friends posing with ice cream cones.
“The treats became a symbol of the strike since they still cost only 5 cents,” noted Brophy, who helped facilitated the mural’s completion after taking over from Arlene Robinson.
Jones and Manhas left three of the dresses that were completed by the original group and painted two others.
“Basically when we got it it was laid out but most of the details weren’t there or some things needed to be re-done because it had been sitting for years,” Jones said.
You could never tell by looking at the mural now, but a sign in the middle of the piece gave them the most trouble as they ensured historical accuracy.
“We had to change that (sign) three times. In the picture it’s black and white so we didn’t know what colour it was and found out later it was red. We had already done it in green so had to redo it a few times,” Jones said.
Then there was confusion because the picture was also blurry so they weren’t sure whether the sign read ‘parlour’, ‘polar’ or ‘palm’.
“That part was probably the most re-painted area,” Manhas added.
Both expect art will continue be part of their life but don’t have plans to pursue it professionally, at least for now.
Chemainus Festival of Murals Society will frame the mural and it will be unveiled as part of the Community Mural Series that will include the orcas on the Ace Hardware Store, the compass at Kin Beach and the new Labyrinth at Waterwheel Park and the Meadow Memories Mural at the Best Western in the meeting room.
Mural Society vice president Shannon Bellamy said Cowichan Neighbourhood House is a perfect location for the mural because it’s youth-driven.
“We have a great community art program at the secondary school and if you go to the school you will see examples of the art that’s been created there, so why not have a mural that’s created by the youth in the community. I think it’s a nice combination,” she said.
LADYSMITH CHEMAINUS CHRONICLE/ ENTERTAINMENT /LOCAL NEWS/NEWS
Aug. 17, 2017 11:30 a.m.
by MIKE GREGORY
Brad Grigor (far left) and Peter Matthews from the Chemainus and District Chamber of Commerce presented this photo of Chemainus from the early 1970s to Erik Viestrup, president of the Chemainus Valley Historical Society, Dec. 14 at the Chemainus Valley Museum.
Eric Veistrup and Norma Greer of the Chemainus Valley Historical Society received a helping hand from Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley, Denise Sakai from Island Timberlands, Chemainus and District Chamber of Commerce (CDCOC) president Peter Matthews, North Cowichan mayor Jon Lefebure and Mel Dorey, CVRD director for Saltair, at a groundbreaking ceremony outside the Chemainus Valley Museum last week.
Mural, mural, soon to be on the wall… With the 5 Cent Mural, from left are: Peter Collum, Shannon Bellamy, Cim MacDonald, Moe Vessey, Gabi Jones, Anjilee Manhas, Arlene Robinson and Amy Brophy. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Chemainus Museum turning 25
The Chemainus Valley Museum is celebrating its 25th
anniversary with a big party on Wednesday, Aug. 17
at Waterwheel Plaza.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. you can join the volunteers in
celebrating History Then and Now.
There will be historical games for children along with music
and dancing. There’s also food and lots of activities.
According to museum society spokesperson Amy Brophy, it’s
been exactly a quarter century since the museum was officially
opened on Aug. 17, 1991 but the community’s interest in
its history goes much further back.
“The society was actually started back in the 1960s by a group
of local citizens, including H. R. Macmillan himself, which is kind of cool. Back then, they kept all the artifacts people were giving
them in their barns and garages with the hope of opening a museum,” she said.
Now the Chemainus Valley Museum welcomes up to 30,000 every year, according to Brophy.
“They come from all over the world. There are the buses that come in to Chemainus, of course, but you also have a lot of tourists that come in from all across Canada and North America, and a lot of Europeans will come on their own.”
The museum has quite a birthday shindig set up for Aug. 17 in Waterwheel Park under tents.
“The whole idea is not just to celebrate the 25th anniversary but to show some of how we’re trying to connect with the community. We’re having demonstrations by people who are still doing traditional activities today,” said Brophy.
These include First Nations cedar weaving and traditional medicine as well as traditional spinning, rug braiding and hooking, and chain saw carving. The displays outdoors will highlight two historic dairy farms.
“The Porters and the Plesters have been very generous in lending us some of their own personal artifacts and pictures. It really is amazing. The Porters have had six generations of their family involved with the farm, going back to 1883. And the Plesters are on the old Rainbow Ranch, which is actually the original homestead back in the 1850s,” she said.
In addition, there will be displays featuring the Chemainus sawmill and the Chemainus Hospital and Auxiliary.
“Of course the museum has its continuing displays inside. They’ve been packed to the gills. We’re now in the last stage of our expansion project. When the new space is completed next year it will be able to support some new and interactive activities for the public like what is being demonstrated Wednesday,” Brophy said.
It all starts at 10 a.m. with a welcome and blessing by Penelakut Elder Florence James, a welcome from Mayor Jon Lefebure and historical society president Eric Veistrup and the playing of ‘The Maple Leaf Forever’ by Peter Leckie on the bagpipes. Later, there is entertainment from the Silvertones, the Island Hoppers Jump Rope Team, the Chemainus Community Band and a chance to hear some exciting stories from historian and author T.W. Paterson.
A birthday cake and ice cream will be served from 1 to 2 p.m.
Chemainus Courier/ COMMUNITY
Aug. 11, 2016 5:00 p.m.
by LEXI BAINAS
Shovels break ground for Chemainus Valley
Construction of the long-awaited Chemainus
Valley Museum expansion is expected to begin
within a week or two.
Notable locals gathered outside the Chemainus Valley Museum
(CVM) Friday afternoon (April 5) to break ground on the
museum’s long-anticipated expansion.
Norma Greer, a CVM “archivist, secretary and gopher girl,”
said the addition will be completed to the lockdown stage “by
the spring of next year.”
Interior remodelling of the museum’s portion of the expansion
is expected to be completed by 2016, Greer said, “by the 25th
anniversary of the building of our original building.”
The Chemainus Visitor Centre and its sponsor, the Chemainus and
District Chamber of Commerce (CDCOC), will also call the expansion home.
Greer said the Visitor Centre will be open “hopefully early next spring.”
The expansion will include three floors in total, with the lowest floor consisting of a single room designed to serve as storage for the museum, Greer added, as they are “busting at the seams with stuff” and have exhausted their existing storage space as a result. The expansion includes an elevator, too, Greer said, to facilitate the relocation of items from the museum’s collection.
Chris Dawes and Denise Sakai from Island Timberlands were on hand to assist with the groundbreaking, Greer said, in recognition of the company’s ownership of the land once designated as parkland by H.R. MacMillan.
Eric Veistrup, president of the Chemainus Valley Historical Society, and Greer were joined by Sakai, Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley, CDCOC president Peter Matthews, North Cowichan Mayor Jon Lefebure and Mel Dorey, CVRD director for Saltair, for a ceremonial groundbreaking at the site Friday afternoon.
Veistrup said they hope to start construction “within a week or two” in order to complete the building’s foundation “within the next two months,” prior to a slow-down for tourist season.
Framing will begin in the fall, Veistrup said, “and by this time next year we should have the roof on our structure. That’s our goal.”
“The visitor centre is now going to be part of our museum,” Veistrup added, “and we have promised them that they will be ready to move in here by June next year.”
The parking lot adjacent to the museum is destined to become “Waterwheel Plaza,” Veistrup reminded the crowd. “There will be no more parking here. It will be for the people to enjoy, and we believe that’s a great thing for Chemainus.”
The expansion, designed by Ladysmith-based architect Angela Quek, adds nearly 5,500 square feet of space to the structure. At street level, the addition includes 1,600 square feet of museum space and a 900-square-foot Visitor Centre, Veistrup said. Below that rests a second level with 1400 square feet of storage space for the museum and an 800-square-foot office for the CDCOC. At the base of the slope rests a third level, Veistrup said, which offers up an additional 780 square feet of storage.
Prior to the groundbreaking, Veistrup took a moment to express his gratitude to all those who lent a hand in seeing the project through to fruition, paying special mention to Greer.
“Without Norma, we would not be standing here today, Veistrup said. “I can guarantee you that.”
According to the museum’s website, the expansion will be completed in three phases. Phase one begins now and consists “of the construction of … the foundation and base of the new expansion.”
Phase two will include the construction of the walls and roof and is slated to begin by the end of 2013. Phase three “will be the joining of the old with the new museum,” with the historical society’s goal being the completion of the structure in time for the museum’s 25th anniversary.
BC LOCAL NEWS
Apr. 9, 2013 10:00 a.m.
by NICK BEKOLAY