A busy summer at the Kaatza Station Museum and Archives

We have had nearly 1,300 visitors from all over the world, including South Africa, India, Australia, the United Kingdom, Mexico, United States, almost every Canadian province, and many countries in Europe.

Barbara Simkins

Museum curator

The Kaatza Station Museum and Archives was a very active place over the summer.

We have had nearly 1,300 visitors from all over the world, including South Africa, India, Australia, the United Kingdom, Mexico, United States, almost every Canadian province, and many countries in Europe.

We were lucky to have our summer student, Katie Hadden, back again this year.

Besides greeting the visitors, she created a very informative display on the geology of the Cowichan Lake area. It will be here until mid October, so there is still plenty of time to see it.

Our volunteers have been very busy doing a variety of projects.

Once the summer arrived, they were able to paint the speeder, caboose – still in progress – and the trim on the Bell Tower School.

The staff/volunteer kitchen in the museum has been updated, and we now have new counter space, sink and tap, and will soon have a small refrigerator.

We hadn’t changed the area since it was built in 1983.

Other volunteers have been working in the archives, updating our website and researching.

One highlight of the summer was a visit by the Saywell family.

Jack Saywell, who along with his brother Bill, grew up at the lake, died recently. The family stopped by to donate an autobiography that Jack had written about his life, which includes a section on the Cowichan Lake area.

Also donated was a flag that flew over the high school in the 40s and 50s.

Jack’s father was the principal at the high school from 1937 until 1964.

When the elder Saywell died in 1980, a memorial service was held here and the local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion presented the family with this flag. This flag is now home again.

The museum has created a permanent display honouring the Saywell family, and this flag will become a part of it.

Another highlight was a visit by the son of Cam Chouinard who, among other things, was a photographer of some renown, who lived in Youbou.

Cam’s son donated his father’s old camera collection, and we were able to scan a number of photographs. A display will be put in the museum in mid October.

As next year is the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first train to Cowichan Lake, we have many plans for 2012.

One plan involves creating a display on how the railway has changed our community.

We are also hoping to reprint the Kaatza book sometime next year. We will be starting work on a railway book that will complement our display. We are trying to create some much-needed storage space, and hopefully this will be done in the coming year. There are lots of smaller projects that will also keep us busy.

We are continuing to work on the IWA/Wilmer Gold collection.

To date, over 4000 photos have been catalogued, with about another 1000 to go and the 2000 negatives are being scanned. This is a huge undertaking and we will eventually get some of it on line.

We have changed to our winter hours, and are open Monday to Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Also, check out our website for lots of general information about us, as well as some historical articles, at www.kaatzamuseum.ca.

Our first meeting of the season will be held at the Bell Tower School, located behind the museum, on Tuesday, September 20, at 7 p.m. Everyone is welcome.

New volunteers are always welcomed. Stop by the museum and talk to the curator about the various jobs available.