New life for Tumbler Ridge Archiving Project

Charles Helm


Through the designation by the Global Geoparks Network of the Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark, essentially the world has recognized and appreciated who we are and the remarkable attributes of our area. With this welcome recognition come responsibilities, and obligations to get certain things in order. One obvious example is appropriate signage and interpretation, something the Geopark committee is working on assiduously in time for the 2015 tourist season.

But there are other aspects of preserving and interpreting our heritage that are perhaps not as immediately obvious. One such item is the need for a repository for all that historical and scientific data. Surely a community and surrounding region that earn the title “Global Geopark” need an Archives of excellence?

The Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation has had this in mind for many years, in fact archiving forms part of its mission statement. And efforts have been made to develop the Archives over the past decade. At one stage it was envisaged for the Town Hall basement to be the repository. The result of all these efforts was the outline of an archiving project, and a mass of material that needed to be cataloged.

What was needed was a volunteer with a passion for the community and region and the associated history, someone who could take charge of the project under the auspices of the Museum Foundation, and move the project forward. Many competent volunteers already have their hands full with other projects, and most would argue that Crys White is one of the busiest volunteers around town, with her fingers in numerous volunteer pies. Yet one day Crys came to the President of the Museum Foundation saying she wanted to relaunch the Tumbler Ridge Archives Project.

Anyone who knows Crys will realize that this is a declaration of intent, that will succeed no matter what the sweat and toil that it might take. In the last few months space has been created in the Peace Region Paleontology Research Centre, a committee has been formed, a mission statement and collections policy has been finalized, and all is set to begin work on this vital project for a community with the aspirations and attributes of Tumbler Ridge.

A look at some of the committee members is enough to instill a sense of confidence: Patsy Antle, Lisa Buckley,  Thomas Clark, Paula Coutts, Brenda Holmlund, Jim Kincaid, Rich McCrea, Jeanette McDougall and Bob Norman. Between them they pack a remarkable skill-set. Other established archives in the region have been generous in promising assistance.

Broad categories can be defined: the early and subsequent history of the community of Tumbler Ridge, all the historic materials written about the region, archaeological records, scientific studies, noteworthy Town Hall records, etc. In the long term the goal is for the database to be completed and the Archives to be accessible to the public, both by appointment and on-line.

A one-time capital budget of $10,000 is envisaged, and fund-raising will commence soon. Much of the $3,000 donation provided to the Museum Foundation by the Lake View Credit Union in 2014 is earmarked for this purpose (the remainder is being used to update the Sports Hall of Fame).

Enter into this mix Erin Hanna and the Tumbler Ridge Community Arts Council. Out of the blue they announce that they are creating a new drama production in 2015, and that all proceeds will go to the creation of the Tumbler Ridge Archives. What an amazing gesture – another example of our organizations in town supporting and reinforcing each other for the greater good. With this kind of community support, and with the kind of enthusiasm now on display, great things can be expected of Crys and her team.