Columnist Margaret Miller is a longtime Creston Valley resident.

Columnist Margaret Miller is a longtime Creston Valley resident.

Valley Views: A Local Treasure

‘Archived information can help us understand our past…’

By Margaret Miller, a longtime Creston Valley resident

I enjoyed an afternoon in downtown Creston recently, doing something I hadn’t done for years. It was fun and informative, and I regret putting it off for so long.

Yes, one warm July afternoon, I revisited the Creston Museum.

The Creston Museum is located at the east end of Devon Street, a short stroll from the mall parking lot. For far too long, I cruised past the museum as I headed into town. A few weeks ago, I slowed down, crossed the railway tracks and pulled into the museum’s parking area.

It could rightly be called a museum complex, as an interesting, family-friendly place with a collection of indoor and outdoor displays, gardens and walking paths. A large assortment of vehicles, tools and agricultural equipment, a trapper’s cabin, and tiny schoolhouse have also found a home on the grounds.

Our local museum houses an impressive number of artifacts and memorabilia, photographs and print material, displays and information. It’s a local treasure and valley residents and visitors should check out at least some of what it has to offer.

Three displays were of particular interest to me. Standing Strong: Ktunaxa Traditions in a Changing World – now close to completion – presented information about the indigenous peoples who traditionally occupied parts of B.C. (including this valley), Alberta, Idaho, Washington, and Montana.

A one-room schoolhouse relocated from Lister was a charming addition. With ten little desks, a woodstove, wall photo of King George and a host of other objects, it’s a far cry from modern classrooms with furniture for thirty, modern learning materials, computers, and smart boards.

The Theatre Room, a feel-good exhibit with a row of comfy old seats, photographic and musical equipment, allowed me to view short films of the old West Creston ferry in service and flooding in the 1930s.

After browsing some of the displays – a good look around requires more than an hour or two – I visited the archives office and learned a treasure-trove of printed material dating back more than a century was stored behind a heavy door that regulates room temperature. Maps, documents, and photographs from our town and Kootenay Lake communities. Well preserved issues of local newspapers, both the Advance and the Creston Review (in print from 1909 to 1983).

And it got me thinking. Editions of this newspaper will hopefully continue to be preserved in the archives. What might future generations learn about our rural community from its articles, columns, letters, and photographs? What might our great-great-grandchildren learn from other 2021 sources like international news reports, social media posts, internet sites, government records, and scientific findings?

More specifically, how might Crestonites respond in 50 years, in 2071, to the issues our community is facing this summer?

The possibilities are interesting. A few are almost amusing, some potentially disturbing.

Most people actually knew greenhouse gases caused global warming?

Vehicles driving down Canyon Plaza? Too many big gas guzzlers.

$450,000 for a house on Elm? We could afford half a dozen at that price.

When did we replace “Skimmerhorns” with the traditional indigenous word?

Drinking water sold in little plastic bottles? That explains a lot.

What’d they put in all those storage lockers?

Striploin steaks just $35 a kilo. Real meat, right?

The 17 month of the COVID-19 pandemic, right? If only everyone realized…

Stage 3 water restrictions? When did water delivery services start?

What was that thing across the road from the grain elevators?

Printed television guides? What the heck was Big Bang?

Sounds like a friendly place back then too.

Predictions aside, archived information can help us understand our past. It’s also a reminder that present decisions and lifestyle choices help shape our valley’s future. And the future of the planet. We live in a changing world and the choices we make now – as individuals, as a rural community and a nation – will impact what lies ahead for others.

Kudos to museum manager Tammy, the board of directors, summer staff, and volunteers. Check out Creston Museum’s Facebook and Instagram sites to learn more and drop by for a visit.

READ MORE: Valley Views: Staying Safe

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