Used with permission: Russell Treloar — Looking North, Shawnigan Lake
Visit us in
Shawnigan Lake Village
• Friendly guides
• Interactive displays
• Historical slide shows
• EJ Hughes Gallery
• Kinsol Trestle models
Admission by donation
Why Museums Matter
By Paige Henry
Shawnigan Lake Museum Summer Student & Volunteer
It can be difficult to think of the past as a time that really existed. This is especially true in today’s world, where everything is in a constant state of evolution. We’ve hardly made one development or started a new trend before we move on to something else. It’s hard to think that, in some other time, everything we now consider “dated” was modern. At some point, the past was someone else’s “now.”
Museums seek to bridge the gap between ourselves and the past. They present history in its purest form and let it speak for itself. They understand that history doesn’t always need adaptation- the best way to understand it is to experience it firsthand. And stepping into a museum is one of the most authentic experiences you can get.
Museums are places to create connections, both with the past and with each other. Every country, every community, every family has their own unique story, but stories themselves don’t belong to any particular place or culture. We have told stories since the beginning of human society, and it’s crucial that we continue to do so. Stories help us discover bonds we did not know existed, forge connections between people who might otherwise have nothing in common, and make our sprawling, complicated world feel a little smaller.
Even if you’re not so interested in education, it’s hard not to respect the effort museums put into preserving objects that would otherwise be lost. In a time where many things are disposable and mass-produced, it’s strange that something as simple as a medicine bottle or cocoa can was once worth keeping. It’s largely thanks to the resourcefulness and foresight of our ancestors that we have so many artifacts left- everything was made to last, to have another use beyond its original purpose. I look at the rows of beautiful glass bottles in our museum’s mock general store and feel wistful for a time when even mundane objects were made with such care.
Despite the vital role they play, museums- especially those in small communities- don’t always get the attention they deserve. The reality is, many people don’t think of a place like Shawnigan Lake- or Canada itself, for that matter- as having a rich and complex history.
I wonder if, one hundred years from now, our descendants will preserve what we left behind. Will they create museums in honour of us? Will they go to great lengths to spread our stories?
We’d best leave them lots of stories to tell.
EJ HUGHES GALLERY
Your source of information for the Kinsol Trestle at Shawnigan Lake. Stop by the Museum on your way to/from the Kinsol Trestle. We have two scale models: one 3 foot and one 10 foot! There are also historical and a time lapse restoration video of the Trestle for your enjoyment.