Courtenay & District Museum

  • Exhibit: Spicer-Simson
  • Family Fossil Tours
  • Classic Cruisers Graffiti Show and Shine
  • JOYFUL: 36 Years in Comox Bay
  • A Word to the Wise
  • It's All There in Black and White
  • BC Day Hours
  • Anniversary Give Away
  • Before Television
  • Capes Escape
  • Donations
  • Museum Sponsors
  • Photo of the Month
  • Museum Funding

  • Phone:



    Mailing Address:
    207 Fourth Street,
    Courtenay BC,
    V9N 1G7

    Monday to Saturday
    10am to 5pm

    Noon to 4pm

    John Wilson

    Vice President
    Daryl Wright

    Past President
    April Shopland

    Rick Ross
    Jim Haggart
    Ross Dingwall
    Harry Squire
    Mary Everson

    Elizabeth Braithwaite

    Member of...

    British Columbia Museums Association

    Canadian Museums

    Archives Association of
    British Columbia

    Heritage Society of British Columbia


    Exhibit: Spicer-Simson

    The Courtenay and District Museum is offering a great opportunity to explore the legend of one of the Comox Valley's most enigmatic historical figures.

    Come celebrate the life and career of Commander Geoffrey Spicer-Simson, a Royal Navy officer during World War I, who is renowned for his role as leader of a naval expedition to Lake Tanganyika in 1915, where he commanded two small ships— Mimi and TouTou — which destroyed a superior German flotilla during the Battle for Lake Tanganyika.

    Almost as intriguing as his military merits are Spicer-Simson's eccentricities: the man had a penchant for wearing skirts in the line of duty, and traveled with a portable bathtub, in which he would bathe himself publicly.

    The Spicer-Simson exhibit was made possible by a very generous donation from Mr. Bruce McPhee. Thanks must also be extended to Don Gordon, the late Mac McCaffery and Ian Kennedy for contributing research to the project.


    Family Fossil Tours

    Join the Courtenay Museum for one of our signature family fossil tours, led by curator of science Pat Trask.

    Explore the beautiful riverbeds of the Comox Valley for eighty million year old marine fossils!

    Click here to find out more


    Classic Cruisers Graffiti Show and Shine

    The Comox Valley Classic Cruisers Graffiti Show and Shine takes place in downtown Courtenay on Sunday, July 24th.

    Please note that to better accommodate Classic Cruiser show visitors, the museum will be open special hours (10 am to 2 pm) for Sunday, July 24th only.

    Click here for info


    36 Years in Comox Bay

    Rick James, BC maritime historian and author, has penned an article with an interesting local slant from Charlie Nordin Jr. about the Comox Logging and Railway Co. tug boat the JOYFUL for the June 2011 Western Mariner magazine.

    Thanks to magazine publisher David Rahn for permission to link to the article "Joyful: 36 Years in Comox Bay" for our readers.

    Click here to continue reading


    A Word to the Wise

    This month's installment of an Island K'ómoks word is...

    "Kxem 'chamberpot' - this name refers to the area around the mouth of Black Creek where weed-like plants pile up and rot."

    Please note that this word and definition is courtesy of the book Sliammon Life, Sliammon Land, page 169, by Dorothy Kennedy and Randy Bouchard, published in 1983.


    It's All There in Black and White

    What do our new exhibit "Natural Bounty, Cultivating and Creating in the Valley of Plenty", the Powell River Ferry and a Courtenay warehouse have in common? Read this August 5, 1930 article from the Courtenay Free Press to find the answer...

    And don't forget, we get our news from microfilmed newspapers that have been digitally scanned on a machine which is available for public use in the archives.

    Read this newspaper article from our archives  

    BC Day Hours

    Just a reminder that the museum will be closed on Monday, August 1st.

    Have a safe and happy holiday!


    Anniversary Give Away

    This month our congratulations go out to the June winners of The Comox Valley book – Bonnie Kindlan and Kathleen Zeno!

    We continue our year long 50th anniversary celebration of the Courtenay and District Historical Society with a monthly prize draw to receive a complimentary copy of the coffee table book by Paula Wild.

    All current, paid-up members to the Society are automatically entered to win, and now we've increased your chances of winning by doing a separate draw for fans to our Facebook page.


    CDM 997.294.5

    Before Television
    What Happens When We Turn off the Remote

    Here is an artifact from the CDM collection embellished to highlight a specific event. The hand-painted map on this canvas backpack illustrates Bill Hembroff's 1971 centennial fund-raising walk to build a museum for the Comox Valley in Courtenay.

    Hembroff became the first person to walk from Dallas Road in Victoria to the Cape Scott lighthouse in the spring of 1971. The walk, which he completed in 23 days, was a personal centennial project for him as well as a fund-raiser for a new museum building. Through pledged donations, Hembroff raised $2,300.

    Bill Hembroff, who died in 1999, was on hand to see the ribbon cutting ceremony in early June of that same year which officially commemorated the purchase of the old Courtenay post office building as a home for the Courtenay and District Museum.


    CDM 996.87.14

    How was Capes Escape Created?

    First and foremost, there was Katherine Helen Capes, a founding member of the Courtenay and District Historical Society. Katherine was one of the first female archaeologists in Canada and an avid preservationist of both cultural and natural heritage.  

    In 1997, Katherine donated the Capes family home to the Courtenay and District Historical Society for the purpose of “preserving the historical value of the homestead for the community” and to “further the objects and purposes of the Courtenay and District Historical Society.” Katherine, a reserved, intelligent and humorous woman, passed away in 2001 leaving the community with legacies that will inform the future.

    For further information on what is now Capes Escape, the Courtenay and District Museum's vacation rental house, please click here



    Please consider supporting the Courtenay and District Museum through a charitable donation. Click on the link below to support donations to us directly or through the Comox Valley Community Foundation.

    Click here to Donate Now


    Museum Sponsors

    Judy and Stan Hagen
    Comox Valley Community Foundation
    Daryl and Evelyn Wright-Francis Jeweller's Ltd.
    The Rotary Club of Courtenay Foundation
    The Robert Hunt Family
    Don and Marie Gordon
    M. Jean McMullan Estate
    Bruce McPhee

    Comox Valley Echo
    Marjorie Thorpe
    The Bickle Family
    Lorna Gunn
    John Wilson and Family
    Judy Gurr
    Sue and Ian Leakey
    Ed LaFleur
    Ron Moffat
    Paula Moffat

    Elizabeth Braithwaite
    Jean Hawthorne

    Dove and Mike Hendren
    Ruth Masters
    John and Joan Wilson
    George E. Sprogis
    Gordon Schnare
    Mary Mobley
    D. Mobley
    M.E. McKerrow


    Photo of the Month

    CDM #995.101.16
    Looking up 5th Street from bridge, 1890s

    You can view more photos like this on our website. Click here to visit our holdings.


    Museum Funding

    The Courtenay and District Historical Society was registered as a nonprofit society in 1961 to preserve and interpret cultural and natural heritage of the Comox Valley. It has functioned as an independent society since that time. Funds are derived from the generous support of the City of Courtenay, British Columbia Arts Council, Comox Valley Regional District, British Columbia Gaming Branch, and from museum generated revenues and donations.

    Proud sponsors of the Courtenay & District Museum:

    The City of Courtenay

    BC Arts Councils

    Regional District Comox-Strathcona