The Rossland Museum & Discovery Centre is built from the mine up

The centre is a Best of Business Gold award winner

Museum director Joelle Hodgins, museum president Libby Martin and collections manager Veronica Vareiro of the Rossland Museum & Discovery Centre

From left to right: museum director Joelle Hodgins, museum president Libby Martin and collections manager Veronica Vareiro. — Photo courtesy Rossland Museum & Discovery Centre

The Rossland Museum & Discovery Centre (RMDC), was built on the site of the historic Black Bear Mine in 1967 as a Canadian Centennial project thanks to the efforts of Jack McDonald, Roger Terhune and other dedicated community members. An underground mine tour of the Black Bear Mine ran from 1967 until 2009, but had to be permanently closed in 2010 by the property owners as the necessary safety upgrades were not feasible at the time.

The museum is currently fundraising for the second phase of its most recent renewal project, The Mine Experience, that will replace the old underground tour opportunity with an above-ground, interactive exhibition. Its fundraising program began with an incredibly generous donation from Teck Metals Ltd. of $700,000 to the new exhibition wing.

“We are presently working on the exhibition and design plan for The Mine Experience and the addition to the front of the main museum building,” said Kylie Lakevold, the museum’s marketing and operations co-ordinator. “It will result in a refresh of all of our permanent exhibits and the creation of a new theatre and additional space for our temporary exhibition space.”

Visitors to the museum can experience first-hand the history of Rossland, including the emergence of skiing, mining, smelting, power and light in the area. The museum also features programs and events that are a blast from the past for Rossland locals and visitors.

Lakevold answered a few questions for us here:

What is your favourite service or product available to visitors?

Our children’s programming and school tours have really expanded lately, which we are so excited to share with the community. We have many curriculum-based school programs with variable components to meet the needs of different age groups. We have developed a collection of discovery kits that can be taken out into the museum, into the community, classrooms, etc. to learn about different aspects of our region’s history.

Our greatest product is the wealth of information and the large collection that we have on display and ever changing at all times. The exhibits cover topics from early mining practices, the first Canadian Miner’s Union of the Western Federation of Mines, the creation of the Consolidated Mining & Smelting Co., the first chairlift in Western Canada, one of the oldest winter carnivals in Canada, Olympian Nancy Greene’s hometown and the Rossland Ladies’ Hockey team (which was just inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame in May 2018).

What's a recent historical preservation industry trend you're excited about?

One of the most exciting advancements in this industry has been the digitization of our documentary heritage, including photographs, maps and paper records. This not only increases public accessibility to our history, but enables long-term preservation of the collections with safer use and presentation. In partnership with the Columbia Basin Institute of Regional History, we have scanned and digitized over 7,000 images from our more than 10,000-photograph collection. They are now available to the public from their website: https://basininstitute.org.

While national museums have had the resources to do this for years, many other museums are now working to get their full artifact collections online so everyone can see and engage with the collection at home, in the classroom, or from anywhere. We’ve just begun exploring opportunities to do this in an affordable and safe way.

What's your team's superpower and why?

The museum is run by a small team of staff and a very dedicated crew of volunteers. Here at the museum, everyone wears many hats and aren’t afraid to learn something new and step outside their role to best serve the community and present our incredible history. Our superpower is using our resources in the most efficient and effective way possible.

For more information about the Rossland Museum & Discovery Centre, visit the website.

Zoë Dupley

Zoë Dupley hopes to share her love of storytelling, and properly communicate the passions of those she interviews. When she isn't hiking in the Rocky Mountains, she is working on her latest sewing project or reading The Lord of the Rings. View all of Zoë Dupley’s articles

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