“Heritage has a central role in our community,” Mayor Mike Ruttan told a crowd gathered at the Alberni Valley Museum last Wednesday. “It’s something we need to continue to strengthen.”
Ruttan and museum manager Jamie Morton added to that strength last week to honour local heritage and to give accolades to people who celebrate the city’s heritage.
Two aboriginal exhibits held at the Maritime Discovery Centre and AV Museum this year earned accolades for the people who brought the exhibits to the public. Darrell Ross of the Tseshaht First Nation was recognized for his ongoing support of Tseshaht heritage, most recently seen in his planning of Hishok—Tseshaht Whaling in the Hutcheson Gallery.
Rod Sayers and Emily Luce were honoured for curating Nelson Joseph: Hupacasath Artist, and bringing to light a little known yet important artist in Alberni Valley cultural history.
The Blue Marlin Inn was celebrated for its business model emphasizing heritage in the preservation and revitalization of the century-old former Arlington Hotel on Johnston Road.
“Things like heritage values are being respected and are part of the business plan of the operation,” Morton said in presenting owner Melody Magaton with the award.
Jan Jansma is a familiar face around McLean Mill; he’s always eager to help out with whatever project is at hand. In 2014, Jansma’s historic photographs of the 1964 tsunami were front and centre as the city celebrated the 50th anniversary of the big wave that hit Port Alberni.
It is Jansma’s deep love of history that often brought him by the offices of the late Ike Patterson, a former city councillor and historical columnist. For this reason, Patterson’s son Kris presented Jansma with the Ike Patterson Memorial Award.
This award recognizes a volunteer who contributes to community heritage in the spirit of Ike’s love for community history.
Michael McDowall, who ran the Maritime Discovery Centre, served on the heritage commission from 2012-14 (the last year as chair) before leaving the community this fall to take a teaching job in Prince Rupert. He was unable to pick up his award in person, but his wife and daughter were on hand.
“His enthusiasm and energy will be greatly missed,” Morton said.
Also unable to attend was Ralph Tieleman of Tofino honoured for his generosity in donating an Emily Carr oil painting of Sproat Lake to the museum. Morton said it is the single most valuable item anyone has ever donated to the museum.
The late Dave Tranfield, from the Western Vancouver Island Industrial Heritage Society, was honoured posthumously for his long and dedicated service to the IHS and the Alberni Valley Museum. Burt Simpson from the IHS accepted the award on behalf of the Tranfield family.
“Dave is a hard act to follow,” Simpson said. “He had the ability to bring people together. Dave was the cohesive stuff that brought them together and made things happen.”
Tranfield passed away in September.
The final award was for Ken McKinnon, who was unable to make it to the ceremony. McKinnon is a director with the Maritime Heritage Society and was honoured with his award for his long service as an advocate of the heritage community, “and in particular as a founding member of the PA Maritime Heritage Society, and serving as a director and secretary,” Morton said.
“He’s been one of those stalwart behind-the-scenes fellows. He’s one of the key players in the continuity of the organization.”