Wednesday 11 March 2015

World War I Exhibit

Here is a great video clip done by Shaw TV last August in our temporary exhibit, Chilliwack's Great War: At Home and Overseas. If you haven't had a chance to check out the exhibit yet, come now! The exhibit features an actual poppy picked from Flander's Field that was dried and mailed home to Chilliwack as well as trench art made from shell casings found on the front lines.

The exhibit is on now until Fall 2015.

Tuesday 9 September 2014

“As Fine as Any in the Dominion”
The Paramount Theatre officially opened on June 9, 1949 as a much needed replacement for the aging Strand Theatre. The “ultra-modern” theatre was built by the Famous Players Canadian Corporation and was thought of as Chilliwack’s first skyscraper. The theatre, with its 900-seat capacity, cost an estimated $225,000 for the building and a further $35,000 to $40,000 for furnishings. Hailed as “as fine as any in the Dominion”, the theatre was complete with air conditioning and a Candy Bar. The opening presentation was the Canadian premiere of Damon Runyon’s Sorrowful Jones, starring Bob Hope and Lucille Ball. Eager movie-goers waited for up to 3 hours on opening night.

Grand Opening of the Paramount Theatre, 1949.
Chilliwack Archives 1998.041.002
My absolute favorite Paramount tidbit is the “1956 fiasco”. Local teenagers reportedly rioted after a showing of “Rock Around the Clock”, a film considered to be the first major rock and roll musical film. While teenagers were reportedly orderly during the showing of the picture, while the credits rolled, they started to applaud in rhythm with the music until things got out of hand. Seats were slashed, chestnuts and steel bearings thrown, furniture overturned and sand from lobby ash trays thrown around during the “ruskus”. Teenage riots were common in other cities during the showings of this highly disputed picture with some towns even banning the film.

Film Canister of "A Force of One" (1979) staring Chuck Norris
Chilliwack Museum Collection 2013.059.0018
The Paramount was later purchased as a Landmark cinema until its last showing on November 3, 2010. After much public debate and outrage, the Paramount was demolished in 2013 due to “lack of sufficient financial backing and insurance coverage” that was needed to restore and remediate the aging structure. The loss of the Paramount building graced the dubious list of “Worst Losses of Heritage Buildings in Canada” in 2013.

Fortunately, before the demolition crews began dismantling the structure, Museum staff rescued materials from the Theatre to safeguard its history. From film canisters to a popcorn warming machine, the Paramount’s history will be preserved for generations to come.


Thursday 4 September 2014

Greetings Chilliwackians! My name is Jane Lemke and I’d like to formally introduce myself as the new Curator of the Chilliwack Museum and Archives. I am thrilled to have taken over a wonderfully well-documented and well-organized collection from the previous Curator, Paul Ferguson. The next year or so will be quite a learning curve for me as I get to know the collection and the community of Chilliwack.
Right off the bat, I am beginning research on two new exhibits to be launched in 2015. One of which will be on display in the Chambers Gallery at the Museum which focuses on the economic trading of First Nations baskets during the latter half of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Photograph of a large collection of First Nations woven baskets. Photos such as this one exist in many museum's collections across the province, highlighting the commodification of  First Nations basketry. Chilliwack Archives Photo PP503946
This fascinating part of our shared cultural history brought about a trading industry between local First Nations and the European newcomers. First Nations women often traded baskets for specialty items. For the Spences Bridge and Nicola people of Lytton and Lower Thompson in 1850, one large burden basket was exchanged for any of the following:
·                  One secondhand buffalo-skin robe
·                  One secondhand man’s buckskin shirt with fringes
·                  One secondhand woman’s skin dress with fringes
·                  One large dressed buckskin of the best quality
·                  One medium-sized dressed buckskin and half of a doeskin
·                  One and one-half fathoms of flat disk-shaped beads
·                  Two and one-half fathoms of flat disked shaped beads, alternating with large blue glass beads
·                  Ten cakes of service berries mashed and dried
·                  Ten cakes of soapberries mashed and dried
·                  Ten bundles of bitterroot peeled and dried
·                  One Hudson’s Bay tomahawk or ax
·                  One second hand copper kettle of medium or small size
·                  One secondhand flintlock musket

Stay tuned for more information on our upcoming exhibits!