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Our New Museum – A Place to Celebrate Maple Ridge
The Maple Ridge Historical Society is promoting a new museum building for our community. Our collections have expanded beyond the confines of the current museums at the Brickyard House in Jim Hadgkiss Park and at Haney House to the point where only a fraction of the object collection is on display.
Under the museum's roof we also keep the stories of Maple Ridge and the families who live and lived here in the form of thousand of records: papers, letters, memoirs, diaries, family histories, group records, newspapers and photographs. Safeguarding those community records against deterioration and destruction is a high priority for the Historical Society. In the new building we wish to have proper archival space where we can protect this information against fires and floods and the passing of time, in a climate-controlled storage facility.
We have stories about how our land between the rivers was formed by the natural forces of water and retreating ice following the last ice age – about the history of our climate and the ecologies it supports which drew First Nations people here in the first place. We have the stories of our First Nations – Katzie and Kwantlen – that we need the opportunity to hear in their own voices. And then there are stories about the resources of fish, fur, forest, and the earth itself in the form of clay and gravel, that drew later European settlers looking for opportunity and a new life.
We have stories about those settlers – what drew them to this strange and distant place – and what made them stay. Names like McIver and Robertson and Haney that our citizens are aware of as street names and place names but they likely don't know the rest of the story.
There are stories of courage, perseverance, and stubborn refusal to give in to the forces of nature that seemed to cause the troublesome forest to grow right back on you the moment you turned away from it. There are stories of picnics and parties and dances 'til dawn in small halls built by determined women and the donations of lonely loggers dreaming of a dance partner. There are stories of love that include elopements with mad rowboat races to find a minister and love that could cause a man to skate the frozen Fraser from Hammond to New Westminster for the girl of his dreams. There are stories of wedding celebrations that involve cannons.
There are stories of generosity and of clubs and organizations that gave willingly of their time and resources to build the infrastructure that would draw more families and make the community thrive.
There are stories of neighbourhoods that became communities in their own right and of the sometimes fierce rivalries between them. Even their names are stories. Each neighbourhood has stories of its settling families, its founding industry, its schools, and churches. These stories explain the character of those neighbourhoods today and their stubborn refusal to die in the face of the blending influences of modern development.