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Putting history to rest

Squamish Historical Society prepares to move into railway park building

Local history will soon have a home.

The Squamish Historical Society (SHS) is receiving the West Coast Railway Heritage Park's former admissions office, the Wilkie building, which will finally provide space for the society's collection of exhibits and artefacts.

On Thursday (Oct. 8), nine SHS members toured the park ground's north end to gaze inside the rectangular building and imagine how they will outfit it with the past. The building has been used for storage since it was relocated away from the park's front gate about a decade ago.

"Slowly but surely we've got quite the collection going and I think the Wilkie building will be perfect to start showing it off," said SHS president Bianca Peters.

"I think it will be nice to take what we've got so far and be able to put it on display for people to see and let it breathe life into the building."

The Wilkie building is expected to be ready for redecorating as soon as a foundation is constructed, which Peters anticipates will be sometime in the spring. Once allowed to move in, the SHS should have no problem filling the building.

So far, the society's collection includes items like an exhibit of large photographs received from Woodfibre that were taken at the turn of the century. The 15 photography displays, which measure about six by two feet, used to hang in Woodfibre's main building. The collection also includes Squamish Town Centre and Chamber of Commerce archives, as well as a number of artefacts from the area's forestry boom.

The society's newest pieces are expected to be a flat screen television, DVD player and laptop that will be purchased with $2,000 in funds acquired this month from a Squamish Community Foundation grant. Members have been busy creating original films, which can be presented with the new equipment.

The addition of the SHS will enhance the historical scope of the park, said guest services manager Nathan Pinfield.

"It's great to diversify the experience that our visitors can take away with them. It's not just about the trains anymore, it's about tying in the history of Squamish, which had a big train influence," he said.

The railway park plans to ask the district for the 14 log books temporarily housed at the Adventure Centre. If awarded the nine-foot-tall wooden "pages" depicting the history of logging in Squamish, the park would likely install them near the Wilkie building and the far end of the mini rail track, said Pinfield.

Peters said she is excited about the bright future of the SHS, which was established about three years ago, because the railway park's Wilkie building opens up many opportunities for growth.

"Seeing as we're both heritage components there's always power in numbers. Together we stand divided we fall."