Historical Nicola Valley Museum & Archives  

A Senior’s Trip Through Time

I am always curious about how people lived before technology eased our lives.

Yesterday was blistering hot! So what better place for this senior to enjoy a trip through time than our air- conditioned historical Nicola Valley Museum & Archives?

It was a short, hot, walk to Tutill Court. I stepped into the quiet, cool bliss of Merritt’s historical Nicola Valley Museum & Archives. It sure is great to be greeted by two smiling seniors, Barb Watson and Jo Atkinson. They answered my questions (and I always have lots of those) with patience and knowledge. 

Experience Nicola Valley

Weaved baskets on display at the Museum

Historical Nicola Valley Museum & Archives- First Nations

I am always curious about how people lived before technology eased our lives.  So I  began with the First Nations people.  Our First Nations blogger, Gerome Garcia talk to us about how they lived and what they ate. I wanted to see the tools they used.

The Nicola Valley Museum & Archives has many, excellent, hand – made artifacts. Displayed in well-lighted cases are tools, equipment, baskets and clothing made by the first nations people who used them.

Some of these tools may look small but they were sharp and effective! Imagine the skill and time it took to make knives, axes, scrapers, arrowheads, bows, arrows, baskets and everything else you are looking at! All from materials found in their environment! Neither materials nor time were wasted.

Be sure to slide open the drawers under the display cases where many more choice pieces are  displayed. I got my face right down there for a good, close look. The shallow, lit drawers made it easy. I loved the exquisite beading and detailed decoration on these treasures.

No way can I leave this section without mentioning the baskets! They are made from many natural materials – even pine needles! They are amazing in skill, detail, pattern and beauty Many have tight-fitting lids for storage and some were made to hold liquids. Impressive indeed!

Historical Nicola Valley Museum & Archives- School Days

A picture that makes me smile every time I see it is of Mrs. Lily Priest, Merritt’s first schoolteacher. The year is 1908 and the Merritt School District had just been formed. She is sitting in a chair in the open door of a teepee shading her eyes from the sun. Just outside the teepee is a wood- burning stove complete with a pot and kettle. This is Merritt’s first school. I can’t help but think how determined the settlers must have been to get their children an education and how determined Lily Priest must have been to see that they got it!

Historical Nicola Valley Museum & Archives- Medical Services.

Next, I moved along to the medical display. The old stretcher looks as good as any today, although smaller. Some of the equipment seems familiar, other bits look rather alarming, including the shelves of bottles and potions. Everything would have been spotlessly clean – no antibiotics.

No comfy assisted living facilities for seniors either. You simply recovered or went to live with relatives willing to nurse you. That’s what family did.

The brave doctors and nurses who practiced in the valley got around however they could. On horseback, carts, by commandeering a special locomotive and even borrowing a section man’s hand-car. Now that’s dedication!

Historical Nicola Valley Museum & Archives – Home Equipment

This is a great display for comparisons! I found the icebox and “convenient”wood – burning kitchen stove fascinating. Maybe some of you remember a grandmother actually cooking on one.  Were you lucky enough to use one yourself? It is possible to turn out amazing baked goods with these stoves but this skill takes time to learn. The early models had no oven thermostats! Women, especially experienced seniors, were justifiably proud of their cakes, pies and bread!

The pioneers had everything they needed to get by, but they had to work a lot harder than we do.

Ever wash clothes by hand with home – made lye soap boiling water and a washboard? Then hand-wring them, carry them to a clothesline and hang them to dry? I have. That is one hard job! And I’m talking about summer. In winter, on washday the entire cabin would be festooned with lines of drying laundry. Those women must have jumped for joy when the wringer washer was invented!

Historical Nicola Valley Museum & Archives – Tools and Farm Equipment

Pioneer tools on display at the Museum.

Here is another fascinating area to explore. Take a good look at the equipment in the storeroom –  scythes, axes, saws, hammers, traps and dozens of other items too numerous to mention! All these tools had to be kept in good condition. This meant cleaned, sharpened, oiled and replaced. All the harnesses, traces, strapping etc. had to be cleaned, oiled, inspected for damage, repaired and put away. Of course, before any of this got done, the items had to be used

Ever spend a day plowing a field with a horse – drawn plow? Me neither, but I once saw it done by an expert. This fellow was a senior working with an experienced horse. But what a hot, sweaty job!

Imagine harvesting that field with a scythe! Better practice first because this is a tool that can nearly sever a limb! And yes, it is another hard, sweaty job.

I think- no, I know I would rather do laundry, bake bread, scrub floors, and work a half-acre kitchen garden!

Historical Nicola Valley Museum & Archives – Back to the present

There is still so much to see. I haven’t touched on transportation, mining, ranching… Looks like I need a return visit, doesn’t it?

Do you want to read about my recent ride on an oversized trike? Read my blog on Seniors Bike Riding in the Nicola Valley.

From your seniors blogger,
Diane

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Diane Lavoie

Drawing, water- colour painting, furniture repurposing and writing are my current interests, as is D&D Emporium, my whimsical, tiny store.These activities blend well with my hunt for new things to do and see in Merritt and areas close to home.
Diane Lavoie

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