Pioneer dogs, 100-year-old receipts, art, natural disasters — all are part of the Gray Creek Historical Society’s annual Museum Days, which runs July 22-25 at the Gray Creek Hall.
With no actual museum to house its collections, the annual event, which has been running for nearly 15 years, is a popular way for people of all ages to get their fix of East Shore history.
“It’s really fun,” said Janet Schwieger, a society member who helps create the displays. “People come from all over. There will be old-timers next to kids. It’s a nice getting together of folks old and new.”
Over 200 people a day have typically attended Museum Days, which allows society members to show off the work they’ve done over the past year.
One of the new displays focuses on pioneer dogs, which helped combat the loneliness of early settlers.
“You needed a friend,” said Schweiger. “They were a very important part of our settlers’ stories.”
The display was inspired by photos, which often showed pioneers with their trusted companions.
“The dogs are always front and centre in these pictures,” said Schweiger. “Why not celebrate them?”
Another display will focus on sales receipts from area businesses from 1911-1913 — a fat envelope of them was discovered in the original Gray Creek Store, started by Arthur Lymbery in 1913. Display items detail transactions such as building houses, planting fruit trees and selling fruit, and include letters from the Doukhobor-owned Kootenay Columbia Preserving Works, a jam factory that ran in Nelson from 1911-1913.
“They just paint such a huge picture of the businesses in the early days in Nelson,” said Schweiger.
The original Gray Creek Store — located next door to the current one, which was built in the late 1970s by Arthur’s son, Tom — was also the source of another Museum Days display, with canned goods, calendars, catalogues and more recovered during a recent trip inside.
“It’s as if Tom kind of built the new store and moved over there and didn’t look back,” said Schweiger. “It’s just a treasure trove of neat old stuff.”
Visitors to museum days can also enjoy the artwork of Will Bayliss, a Crawford Bay artist from the early 1900s, items that will soon be turned over the Boswell’s new historical society, a display on train wrecks and natural disasters, and a display on former East Shore newspapers and their editors.
And with a mandate to show their collection to the public, society volunteers are excited to let visitors see it.
“It’s where we get to show off what our research has been for the year,” said Schweiger.
Admission is free to Museum Days, which runs 12-6 p.m. July 22-25 at the Gray Creek Hall.