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Museum History

The history of the museum is fully entwined with the history of the Maple Ridge Historical Society. In the 1950's, charter members of the society began a collection of objects, pictures, and documents important to local history. This collection lived in a variety of basements and sheds around town until 1967, when a display area was made available in the public library.

The library display did help to attract more attention and donations to the Historical Society, but it was also exposed and not manned full time, and it was inevitable that losses would occur. These losses sparked a drive to find a home for a museum in Maple Ridge. As an interim measure, in 1974, a corner of the library was walled off to provide more security for the collections.

Various venues were examined including the Old Post Office building and St. Andrew's Heritage Church. Both were finally determined to be unsuited to the task due to small size and lack of storage/office space. When the Haney Brick and Tile buildings first came up for discussion in 1977, they were not immediately considered for a museum but for some re-use by the Parks Department.

What followed was the Battle of the Bypass, when the energies of the Historical Society were directed to stopping the plan for a southern bypass which would cut historic Port Haney in half diagonally. They lost that battle, but in the course of planning the bypass, it was determined that the Brickyard buildings would make an ideal site for a museum. The two buildings had been moved during construction of the bypass and had been refounded on full-height basements, giving two useful floors for the Office and three for the house. A dedicated letter-writing campaign by the Society and members of the public resulted in an agreement in 1983 that the Municipality would lease the buildings to the Historical Society for $1 per year and that the Society would provide a Museum for the community on a fee for service basis.

In partnership with the Dewdney Alouette Railway Society, the Historical Society took on the renovation of the Manager's house in late 1983. The Museum was officially opened, with Sheila Nickols cutting the ribbon on BC Day, August 6th, 1984.

In the new location, the Museum continued to be operated entirely by volunteer labour until 1993, when part-time curator Val Patenaude was hired. Her first priority was to automate the collection records and create an indexing system to make objects and information easier to find.

The museum staff now consists of a Director and a Curator plus an ever-changing array of students, contractors, part-time staff and volunteers.