In a matter of weeks, The Hobson History Museum will be empty.
Walls will be stripped of pictures. Artifacts will be inventoried and packed away. Documents will be cataloged and placed into storage indefinitely.
“Although people who came in loved the tours and collections, there just hasn’t been enough of them,” said Wayne Deorksen, curator of the privately funded museum located in central Vanderhoof.
After only 17 months of operations, the museum is shutting down due to a lack of funds.
The decision to close was difficult to make, said Deorksen, who has spent about three years developing the exhibits and archiving thousands of documents and photographs, some dating back 120 years.
“It has been a humbling experience,” he said.
People from almost every continent have visited the museum since it opened in July 2011 to learn about the life and times of Rich Hobson, a rancher whose non-fiction books attracted settlers to northern B.C. and promoted development and investment in the region.
“He has done an awesome job, digging into the history and putting the pieces of the puzzle together,” said Gary Blattner, who is helping organize the museum’s collection ahead of closure.
The museum started off almost by accident when Deorksen’s sister, Barb Penner, stumbled upon a cache of old documents while cleaning out the home of Kathy Hobson, Rich Hobson’s daughter and only child.
Penner found letters of correspondence addressed to dignitaries, distinguished entities and power brokers from around the world.
“The first day in, she was seeing (U.S.) presidential signatures,” said Deorksen. “There isn’t enough room in the newspaper to write about it all.”
With Hobson’s permission, Deorksen and Penner began analyzing and sorting through the documents, developing a chronological timeline for people to follow while touring the museum.
Deorksen’s love of history started at an early age inside a one-room school in Braeside.
One day, a door salesman sold his parents a set of encyclopedias, which Deorksen read cover to cover over a period of several years, he said.
For Deorksen, the main highlight of running the museum was hearing stories of adventure and survival from visitors who travelled long-distances to get to Vanderhoof.
“I’ll remember them with fondness,” he said.