Alberni Museum ‘a treasure’
To the Editor,
Over the Labour Day weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Port Alberni to do some research on a Canadian soldier and poet from the First World War named Charles Samuel Bannell, who was a resident of Port Alberni from 1901 until 1916.
After his death in 1917 at the Battle of Passchendaele, Bannell’s family back in Liverpool published a small collection of his poetry titled His Offering. Many of his poems first appeared in one of Port Alberni’s historic newspapers, and I came to Port Alberni solely to go through 100-year-old copies of the Alberni Pioneer News, hoping to unearth some treasure. I did.
And the greatest treasure I discovered was your museum and archives.
I live in a suburb of Vancouver with roughly three times the population of Port Alberni and the immediate area is home to a quarter million people. We can boast nothing that comes even close to your museum.
All residents of Port Alberni should be rightly proud of the efforts of successive generations to carefully preserve and document Port Alberni’s history. Not only is the collection itself outstanding, but the fact that you have prioritized professional curators to catalogue, maintain and foster your collections is a credit to the city.
It is with some sadness that I note an editorial from earlier this year that the city is looking to cut costs, and is considering turning the collections and administration of the museum over to a non-profit society. My appeal to every resident of Port Alberni is: do not let them do this.
Without professional staff managing your museum, your collection will suffer.
Consider for a moment what you have. Your museum has an Emily Carr painting: well-meaning volunteers would not have been able to bring that to Port Alberni. Your museum has the best collection of digitized photographs outside of Vancouver, the best collection of First Nations artifacts outside UBC’s Museum of Anthropology, and the best collection of early industrial artifacts outside the RBCM. You have a treasure. Do not let short-sighted politicians further degrade this asset.