The big move is well underway at the Revelstoke Nickelodeon museum.
Leslie and David Evans have packed up their impressive collection of old time music machines and other devices, and are bringing it to their new home in Cowichan Bay on Vancouver Island, ending 10 years of operating Revelstoke’s most unique attraction, if not one of the most original in Canada.
“We’re semi-retiring, is the idea,” said David on the phone from their new home. “Running a gift shop in a high street location isn’t what we want to be doing in our 80s and 90s.”
The Evans came to Revelstoke about 10 years ago, when they purchased the historic McKinnon building on First Street and moved their huge collection of mechanical musical instruments here from England.
It took five shipping crates to bring over the collection, including an 18th century barrel organ, a small Dutch street organ, musical pocket watches, magic lanterns, player pianos, music boxes, gramophones, juke boxes, radios, various rare instruments, and a 650-piece pipe organ.
“The smallest is the musical pocket watch and the largest is the pipe organ,” said David.
All told, the collection consists of some 600 items, and it’s all going with them to Cowichan Bay, where they’ll set it up in their home and give tours by appointment.
The Nickelodeon Museum attracted about 2,000 visitors every year and didn’t cover its costs. David also did watch repair.
“We met some wonderful people and we had a great time there and that’s what it’s all about,” he said.
PHOTO: Revelstoke Nickelodeon Museum curator David Evans poses with a 1930s Belgian Dance Organ that was featured in the Banana Tree Cafe in Antwerp before the Second World War. The saxophone in the middle and accordion up top are a couple of the instruments in the machine’s orchestra. It’s all orchestrated by accordioned stacks of paper that play popular dance tunes from the period. The organ is one of many pieces moving with the Evanses to Cowichan Bay. ~ Revelstoke Review file photo.
One of the people they met was Stewart McCartney, who first met David online when they would get into bidding wars on eBay for Revelstoke postcards. When the Evanses moved to town, he helped them renovate the McKinnon building and set up the museum.
They also started up the Bygone Era Entertainment Society together. The group has hosted classic movie nights, old-time dances, and magic lantern shows — the latter being an original form of motion picture where slides would be manipulated to tell a story.
A decade later, McCartney was helping them move out, taking on the demanding job of helping them pack everything. It hasn’t been an easy task — on top of all the museum pieces are hundreds of boxes filled with historical curiosities.
“We will truly miss them,” said McCartney. “It’s a loss for the town.”
Check out this photo gallery from the museum: