Laura Young has been executive director at Revelstoke Railways Museum for roughly a year. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

From hospitality to history

Laura Young doesn’t have a history background, but she didn’t let that stop her from running a museum.

Laura Young never thought railways would become her life.

It’s been a year since she took the helm as executive director at the Railway Museum and it has been an adventure.

“You don’t work here because you want to be a millionaire,” says Young.

“You’re passionate about the community, railroads and history.”

She is originally from England, has a background in forensic science and has mostly worked in hospitality and tourism. Although running a museum is new, it still employs many of the skills from Young’s past.

“When you get to a certain level, once you manage is just how you manage. It just depends on what business you’re managing.”

She has to make sure the museum pays its bills, staff are happy, the building is clean and that the roof doesn’t collapse.

READ MORE: The Revelstoke Railways Museum charts a new course

Young came to Revelstoke both for the job and lifestyle.

“Just being on your feet and working 60 hours a week isn’t why you live in Revelstoke. You live in Revelstoke for the outdoors and community.”

Prior to Revelstoke, Young lived in Whistler and ran a food and beverage company. Although she liked it, she says it’s nice to work with more reliable staff in Revelstoke.

“The people at this museum are very passionate. They’re here for a reason. They volunteer for a reason.”

It turns out older folks are more dependable than millennials. Who’d have guessed?

“Everyone is so passionate here. They have such a great love for it. It’s infectious.”

Most of Young’s life has been spent traveling.

She left England in 2004 and went around the world, working in one place to the next, including France and New Zealand.

However, she says she’s ready for the next chapter.

“Your life changes. As you change, your opinions change and what’s important to you changes as well.”

Now it’s time to set down roots.

As Young talks, she pats her belly. She’s about to become a mom.

“I still love traveling and adventure, but I also love feeling like I’m doing something of value —and doing something of value in a community that I really enjoy.”

When Young took the job, she had many plans. While she is still enthusiastic and opportunistic, it doesn’t always go the way she imagined.“I had all these great ideas when I first came in, and then you realize, ‘Oh, the roof.’”

At the moment there isn’t room in the budget for an $80,000 roof. The building is old and needs repairs.

As the boss, she has found you don’t always get to do what you want. You have to do what’s needed.

“It’s interesting as you go through, how your priorities change,” says Young.

“You have to do what’s important.”

A roof might not sound as exciting as new iPads for visitors, but without the roof, the museum wouldn’t exist.

Regardless, she still has many plans, such as an audio tour for the museum and further digitization of photographs. But it all depends on funding.

The museum is supported by grants, admissions, gift shop sales and memberships.

One of the upcoming challenges for the museum is getting volunteers.

Like Young, they don’t have to have an understanding of railroad history, they just have to be willing to pitch in and work.

“We need to get our name out there that we need help,” says Young.


 

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liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com

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