Chuck and Mary Slemin with their personal doll collection at their home in Courtenay. Photo from the Comox District Free Press Collection, March 4, 1981.

The Courtenay and District Historical Society lost a past supporter with the death of Mary Slemin on March 30, 2021. Mary and her husband, Chuck, were integral to the development of the museum for over two decades.

In looking back over early documents and press releases, Mary’s name pops up again and again. She was ubiquitous on committees, work bees, and tea services.

Mary and Chuck each held several offices with the Historical Society Board over the years. No doubt her biggest year was 1972-73 when she was elected president. That was the year the society moved from the little museum (part of today’s Courtenay Chamber of Commerce building) to the top floor of the Native Sons Hall. Mary led during that hectic time of organizing, exhibit creation and fanfare.

Mary’s special event work was essential to raising public profile and funds for the museum. She convened the Arts and Crafts Shows which began in 1969 and ran through the ‘70s. She also originated the idea of the Doll and Toy Show, Sale and Tea in 1981 and organized most of the subsequent shows that continued through the 1980s. Her love of dolls extended to her private life where she and Chuck ran the “Doll Repair House” out of their home on Powerhouse Road from 1974 to 1989.