Cathy English has spent 30 years as curator of the Revelstoke Museum & Archives. We asked her what her five favorite artifacts in the museum are. Here’s what she said:
Men’s Hat. This delightful little derby hat came from J.G. MacDonald’s Fit Reform Wardrobe, a men’s clothing store where Little Caesar’s Pizza is now located. The hat was probably sold from the store around the year 1910. It was donated by a man whose father had acquired it much later, probably in the 1950s. The donor’s father owned a vintage Model T Ford, and wore the hat when he drove the car in local parades and car shows.
Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee Chair. Queen Victoria celebrated her Diamond Jubilee as Queen in 1897, and this commemorative piece was made for the occasion. It stood for years in the Holten Home at the top of the hill on First Street. Owner Charles Holten had the home built in 1897 for his bride, Lyda Edwards. The home is currently operating as Mustang Bed & Breakfast. The chair appears in an interior photograph of the home.
Regulator Clock. This beautiful clock came from the jewellery store that was built on Mackenzie Avenue in 1904 and that now houses Carrie’s Home Cafe. The store became Bews Jewellery in 1911 and, later, J.K. English and Sons Jewellery. This clock was the one that was used to set all of the other clocks and watches in the store. Railway workers came in on a regular basis to have their watches checked to ensure that they kept accurate time. This clock has sentimental value to me, as my husband’s parents had this in their home for many years until it was donated to the museum.
Fur Press. The large fur press in the museum was made for local men’s clothing merchant F.B. Wells around 1911. Wells bought furs from local trappers and sent them to furriers in Montreal and Winnipeg. The press was used to bale the furs for shipping. The museum also has two ledgers belonging to F.B. Wells that indicate who he purchased furs from, what species of animal they were, and how much he paid for them. An interesting notation from April 1914 shows he paid more than $600 to one trapper for about 100 marten furs. This would have been the equivalent of half a years’ wage.
Tree blaze. Revelstoke resident Cal Upper found a carved tree on the west side of the Columbia River, just south of where the Revelstoke dam is now. It reads: “SS Forty-nine delayed in consequence of high water. July 4, ’66.” The year ’66 refers to 1866, when the steamboat Forty-nine made trips from Washington State to the Big Bend mines. The blaze was most likely carved when the crew of the ship was forced to stay put due to treacherous high water in the Revelstoke Canyon. The carving is quite elaborate and would have taken some time to complete.