The idea for a Museum in Kimberley dates back to the 1950’s when then-Mayor Cliff Swan suggested it as a Centennial project for 1958. The idea was put on hold until the 1960’s when, again Cliff Swan lobbied for a Museum as a 1967 Centennial project. At the time the citizens felt the community was more in need of a community centre, thus Centennial Hall was built instead of a Museum. It was not until 1978 that it seemed a Museum for Kimberley would be a reality. The first meeting was held in June 1978 and outlined the project. The Kimberley District Heritage Society was formed to act as a governing body for the Kimberley Heritage Museum.
The Heritage Society began fundraising and funds in the amount of $129,000.00 meant space was made available in a new Museum/Library/College building. The dedication of which was held in May 1980. In 1991 the College and Community Education moved to other premises, leaving the Museum and Library as sole occupants of the building.
Research into early correspondence and meeting minutes shows that, from the beginning, this would be no “junky collection of artifacts”, but well thought out exhibits. These exhibits would change throughout the year to not only reflect Kimberley’s heritage, but to highlight special events and achievements. As of the end of 2019, our collection numbered 10823 artifacts and 11467 archival photographs, all of which were donated to the Museum.
There have been many tireless volunteers over the past 40 years and we have been fortunate to have their help, but are always seeking new volunteers to join the team. Our organization has also employed 79 summer students, some of whom worked at the Museum for two consecutive years.
The Kimberley Heritage Museum has undertaken numerous projects in its 40 years. The relocation and restoration of old mining equipment from the North Star and Stemwinder Mines, the relocation and restoration of the North Star Schoolhouse, both of which were located at the Happy Hans Campground and have subsequently been donated to the train ride, along with artifacts on loan to the miner’s house.
We erected a cairn to mark the historic North Star Wagon Road/McGinty Trail, located adjacent to the entrance to Trickle Creek Golf course. We also moved and restored the Old Marysville Schoolhouse, C.1910, which can be booked for a tour by contacting the Museum. More recently we worked with the North Star Quilters Guild to provide archival photos which were used to create panels which hang at the Kimberley Conference Centre, assisted Military Ames on the new Memorial Park and saw the installation of the 1967 Centennial Canoe on permanent exhibit.
The Heritage Society has also published a walking tour guidebook titled “Footsteps Through The Past” which is available at the Kimberley Heritage Museum. It provides visitors and locals alike with a glimpse into the history of some of Kimberley’s older buildings and areas.
On the occasion of our 40th Anniversary, the Museum worked with the Kimberley Bulletin to produce a 2020 calendar utilizing some of the archival photographs in our collection.
Our continuing partnership with the Columbia Basin Institute for Regional History makes our archival photographs available online at basininstitue.org and allows the public greater access to the collection.
Increasingly the Museum’s efforts are focused on research requests which vary from family/genealogical, commercial and industrial issues. Anyone who has ever done research will tell you it can be a time consuming task. Searching through archival material is an area where our volunteers become invaluable.
At the Kimberley Heritage Museum we truly believe in the collection, preservation and exhibition of Kimberley’s heritage for future generations. Show your support with a visit, purchase a membership or make a charitable donation.