Fraser Lake’s museum may be moving and expanding soon this year in the spring, depending on funding approval.
“When the [Endako] mine shut down the last time in the early 1980s, it was a community project to build the building and that had happened with anticipation to move it to another location,” said Jolene Webb, the village’s economic development officer. “That never happened.”
The museum would be moved to the village’s two vacant lots on Highway 16 across from its current location, as a start for further development of the area, Webb said.
“There’s a whole park area where items can be placed…and will be developed as well, so it will be a beautiful location for tourists, and even for residents to walk around,” she explained.
Located by Fraser Lake’s arena and soccer field, the museum’s current location not only lacks exposure, but also available parking, Webb said.
“When there are events happening, say it’s curling and hockey on the same day, parking is very limited,” she said.
The present museum site also needs more space to accommodate old mining equipment donated by the recently closed Endako Mine, as well as the top 30 feet of the Fraser Lake Sawmill’s old beehive burner, Webb explained.
“It was all brought down by residents Butch McMaster and Doug Wylie in the past summer as the mine’s doors closed, at no cost for the project,” she said.
For the Fraser Lake & District Historical Society, the move would allow more space for additional heritage buildings and local historical farming machines that were used until the 1960s, said Richard Cannon, the society’s president.
In addition to the Harry Leduc Farmhouse, the Glenannan Post Office, new buildings include the Hudson’s Bay Company building, the Hanson Stake House built in 1926, and August Newman’s trappers cabin — which are currently spread out in the region in locations such as the north shore of Fraser Lake, on a forestry service road, and by Francois Lake, Cannon explained.
“Like Vanderhoof, they got space and they can lay out the buildings and make it a nice country setting,” he said.
To cover the project’s costs estimated at about $335,000 and will be covered solely by grants, the Village of Fraser Lake applied to three sources, including the Nechako-Kitamaat Development Fund, Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program, and Northern Development Initiative Trust.
While the village applied for over $100,000 of funding from each source, NDIT’s invitation to the village for funding application increased from its original proposal of $100,000 to $250,000, as discussed in the village’s council meeting on Nov. 10 last year. “I’m hopeful that it goes through,” Webb said. “If funding is in place, we’re hoping to break ground in spring 2016.”
Historical cemetery restored
Fraser Lake’s historical society also recently completed restoring two historical cemetery sites on Endako Mine Road.
“There was no cemetery in Fraser Lake before 1937,” Cannon explained, so the sites provided the last resting place for many of the area’s residents at the time.
A long-termed project that spanned 25 years, the restoration involved not only removing underbrush and excess timber, setting up heritage signs, but also talking to surviving relatives and looking at archives in Victoria, he said.
While some plaques and grave markings have survived erosion over time, a cemetery directory onsite identifies the non-labelled graves, as well as marking spots where remains may have been buried — as determined by radar soil disturbance.