Seniors’ Column

This week's column focuses on the Nakusp and District Museum and its efforts at preserving the history of the area.

Nakusp area residents, families and out-of-town friends as well as supporters join together in expressing their appreciation of all the Nakusp and District Museum’s efforts directed toward collecting, preserving and recording the information that refers to the history of the museum and the population of the time.

This week’s column focuses on the updated details surrounding each of the various colourful and informative displays which are located throughout the museum itself.


Story of the flood

It was in more recent years (dated 1967) that the Hugh Keenleyside Dam located north of Castlegar, was constructed and designed to serve as part of the Columbia River Treaty. The dam’s primary purpose was designed to maximize power generation as well as provide flood control along the Columbia River.

Sadly, over 2,000 people were displaced by the flooding, and as a result lost their farms and homes. In the case of Nakusp, the major losses included both the sawmill and the ship building industry. It is interesting to note there is now an annual rise and fall of water up to 70 feet, which has been registered along the Upper Arrow Lake.



The building that currently houses the museum was originally built as the school. Local history books and archival materials have been included in the display. We are invited to feel free to conduct our own research, or to ask the attendant for assistance.



Sports lovers were known as both inventive and ingenious. The homemade skates and snow skis proved the point, and fishing in addition to other water sports provided lots of fun throughout the summer months.



Nakusp was destined to become the home of several Japanese families who chose to move or remain permanently in the area following their displacement owing to the internment camps of WWII. The region was greatly enriched by their presence, an example being Ichiro Shino who became a noted artist as well as the town photographer. Note the display of the interesting cameras and photographic developing equipment used at the time.



When BC Hydro was set to flood our lovely valley to create the Keensleyside Dam, it was members of the Nakusp Women’s Auxiliary who collected numerous belongings from West Arrow Park and brought them to the museum for safekeeping.



The museum is fortunate to have been gifted the beautiful organs by local churches. The baptism gowns have been acquired through some of the early pioneer families, dating back to 1890.



Music was an important element within this pioneering community. There were numerous town bands who played for the local population. Once gracing the Nakusp Opera House, is the magnificent Chickering mahogany square grand piano.



It was Eugene Levesque who served as the village barber, pool hall owner, local artist and dramatist. This multi-talented personality created in excess of 70 works of art, all using different media. The museum display features more than 30 pieces of his works.



Nakusp was initially established in the year 1892 by the Canadian Pacific Railway. It was viewed as a port town and stretched out to the United States until 1896 at which time a smelter was built in Trail permitting goods to be sent out more directly.



These display units featured the various tools, implements and curiosities which were used by the doctors and veterinarians of the past, in addition to a pictorial history of the Arrow Lakes Hospital.



Next weeks’ column will outline aspects of village life including mining, farming, forestry and employment at the time, owing to the trapping of fur-bearing animals which played a major role in ensuring self-sufficiency amongst most segments of the population.



Not to be missed is the carefully designed and constructed diorama which outlines many cultural aspects of The Sinixt, known as the People of the Bull Trout. These were the Salish language speakers who occupied the Arrow Lakes and Slocan Valley, pre-contact.


Arrow Lakes News