The Kaatza Station Museum’s newest acquisition, a collection of archival documents from the International Woodworkers of America (IWA), was almost destroyed before a thoughtful IWA member packed the papers into 240 bankers boxes and sent them shipping to Lake Cowichan. Now the museum is pursuing an addition to keep their new library safe.
The IWA archives, curator Barb Simkins explained, consist primarily of written documents from the 1930s and 50s, though some of the collection dates back to the turn of the century, with documents from both the Canadian and British Columbian branches of the IWA. Some photographs and film have also been uncovered.
The recent donation will compliment a donation of documents from the Duncan IWA made five years ago, which can be seen in the museum’s IWA display room.
“These [documents], they let us tell our story,” Simkins said. “The whole reason we’re sitting here is because of logging.”
The vast majority of the documents are planned to be kept in an upcoming addition to the museum, tentatively called the “IWA Annex.” The annex will ensure that the documents are the correct temperature and dryness, to ensure their longevity, and that they are easily accessible to researchers.
These new documents will also be made available digitally, marking the first digital project of this scale that the Kaatza Station Museum has pursued. Simkins said the project is expected to take years to complete, and a timeline has yet to be set.
The museum is seeking corporate sponsorship to cover the costs of the annex, as well as seeking donations of $10 each from former IWA members.
A second phase of fundraising is planned for the Kaatza Station Museum’s 40th anniversary gala, which is set to take place on October 17.