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Courtenay & District Museum

  • Lecture: The Fort at Yorke Island, 1937-1945
  • Especially for Members
  • What's In A Membership?
  • Elasmosaur Birthday Party
  • Before Television
  • Capes Escape
  • Donations
  • Exhibit: Signs of the Times
  • It's All There in Black and White
  • Photo of the Month
  • Envisioning the World
  • Museum Sponsors
  • Museum Funding

  • Phone:



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

    Tuesday to Saturday
    10 am to 5 pm

    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


    Lecture: The Fort at Yorke Island, 1937-1945

    Time and Date: 7pm, Tuesday, November 6, 2012
    Location: Rotary Gallery of the Courtenay and District Museum
    Speaker: Catherine Marie Gilbert
    Tickets: $6 for non-members; $5 for museum members (plus HST). Advance tickets are recommended and will be available mid-October.

    During World War II, one of Canada’s least known military fortresses was built on Yorke Island, BC, just six kilometers northeast of Kelsey Bay. The fort was armed with guns, searchlights, examination vessels, and upwards of 500 men. From 1937-1945 this was Canada’s key western defence against Japanese attack.

    Life for the soldiers on Yorke Island had to be self-sufficient, but there was plenty of interaction with the local population. The locals never forgot these soldiers, who sometimes took shots at them, but who were also grateful for their hospitality when so far from home.

    Click for Details


    Especially for Members

    It's that time of year to extend our appreciation to members with our members only gift shop sale week which is just around the corner!

    From Tuesday, November 13th to Saturday, November 17th, museum members will receive an additional 5% discount on their regular 15% discount from non-consignment and non-sale items in the shop.

    The gift shop stocks everything from dinosaur theme toys to jewelry, marble bowls, crystal growing kits, art cards and shopping bags.

    We also have scarves, children and adult books, t-shirts, sweatshirts, trivets, tea towels, oven mitts and cups, along with totes, travel mugs and candle holders.

    For exceptional and unusual gifts come and visit us at the Courtenay and District Museum gift shop.


    What's In A Membership?

    Lots! News on lectures and events, fifteen percent discounts in the gift shop on non-consignment items, discounts on lectures and a chance to be involved with one of the most active regional museums in B.C.

    Buying a membership supports heritage, education and activities. If you're not a member already, please join us today!

    Click here to Join


    Elasmosaur Birthday Party
    11am to 4pm, Saturday, November 17th, 2012

    The Elasmosaur’s birthday is fast approaching and this year the fossil will be 80,000, 024 years old.

    Twenty-four years ago, the first Elasmosaur found west of the Canadian Rockies was discovered on the banks of the Puntledge River.

    Further discoveries in the Comox Valley have sparked an army of young, and not-so-young, fossil enthusiasts who have made many new fossil finds.

    To celebrate the Valley’s fossil discoveries, the Courtenay and District Museum will hold a special day to honour one of the Valley’s oldest residents and to welcome new-comers, a juvenile Elasmosaur and a Tylosaurus to the galleries.

    On Saturday, November 17th, the museum is inviting the community to visit the museum, see the exhibits, talk to the experts and bring in fossils for identification.

    Festivities include a birthday cake, juice and popcorn. The museum will show dinosaur movies all day in the Rotary Gallery and on the big-screen monitors.

    Admission to the event is by donation.


    CDM 991.74.59

    Before Television
    What Happens When We Turn off the Remote

    As this image from the mid-1920s shows, people went hog wild with party decorations before television!

    The scan is from a glass plate negative in the museum’s collection and it certainly highlights the decorators’ creativity in using items that were probably both store bought and homemade. Exact location of the get-together is unknown – only that it was somewhere on south-central Vancouver Island.

    According to the Comox Argus of 1925, the Comox Valley was partying for Halloween around that time, too.

    The Union Bay CGIT (Canadian Girls in Training) hosted a party at the school hall whose "costumes and decorations were in keeping with the season. Refreshments were served in the "serviette and toothpick" style".

    Courtenay had several children’s parties and the paper noted that this "would take a good many of the youngsters off the streets. Gates were found on telephone poles and other unaccustomed places and signs were misplaced but otherwise the night was peaceful enough".


    Image from The Land of Plenty

    October is Women’s History month in Canada and this year’s theme is Strong Girls, Strong Canada: Leader’s From the Start. Here’s an interesting related story about the Capes sisters – two young women who were way ahead of their time.

    Katherine and Phyllis Capes sure made the front page headlines in the Toronto Daily Star newspaper back in August of 1933. With $8 between them and 30 pound packs on their backs, they hitch hiked their way across the country. In total, they had 28 traveling days. They slept most nights in their sleeping bags in or outside any type of building. On average, they only walked up to five miles a day; the rest of the time they hitched car rides or rode the freight rails. They started their adventure by hitching rides up to and through the Crow’s Nest Pass and then learned how to ride the freight trains from Kenora onwards. With help from motorists, trainmen and hobos, the Capes sisters made their way across the country, quite an adventure for two teenage sisters back in the 1930s.



    Please consider supporting the Courtenay and District Museum through a charitable donation. Your donation helps support programming, museum activities and long term operating of the Courtenay and District Museum. This is a great time of year to donate and receive a tax receipt.

    You can donate online or by mail, details for both are available through the link below. Either way, we'll send acknowledgment and a receipt as soon as your donation is received.

    Click here to Donate Now


    Exhibit: Signs of the Times
    October 31, 2012 to March, 2013

    Signs can advertise a business, promote a cause or even tell you where to go and how to get there!

    In fact, signs are the backdrop to our workaday lives. Some are “just the facts, m’am” others are eye-catching for their use of colour and design. Some signs can become so well known to us that it’s a sad day when they are dismantled or removed.

    But fear not, this new exhibit is sure to bring back some memories. Our second floor temporary gallery area will display “Signs of the Times” – an exhibit featuring artifacts and signage of Comox Valley history from our permanent collection. You can expect to see the Gaiety Theatre sign and "Leung's Fruits and Vegetables" among many others.


    It's All There in Black and White

    This November 7th, 1980 Comox District Free Press article speaks to us of the sacrifices made by the young men from our community and the woman who was not willing to let us forget. Though the Courtenay and District Museum has moved from the Native Sons Hall to the former Post Office, Ruth Masters book "Lest We Forget" is still on display to honour these men.

    Read this newspaper article from our archives


    Photo of the Month

    CDM #990.24.161
    McPhee Store Warehouse, along Courtenay River, c. 1905

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


    Royal BC Museum hosts the world's earliest printed maps

    Hartman D. Schedel, German, 1440-1514
    Untitled Map of the world
    Nuremberg, Germany, 1493

    Victoria, BC – The new Royal BC Museum season opened October 4th with Envisioning the World: The First Printed Maps, 1472-1700 an exhibition of thirty rare world maps drawn from the Wendt collection, complemented by a 1696 double-hemisphere map from the BC Archives collection.

    The exhibition includes the first world map ever printed, a simple woodprint, which illustrates the cumulative history of many of these maps. First drawn around 150 A.D. the map was re-discovered in 6th century Alexandria, Egypt. Then Isidore of Seville, a Christian scholar, added the names of Noah’s three sons, each on his own continent. In the 1450s – when printing technology was developed in Germany – this became the world’s first printed map when it appeared in one of Isidore’s books.

    Continue Reading.


    Museum Sponsors

    Judy and Stan Hagen
    Comox Valley Community Foundation
    Daryl and Evelyn Wright-Francis Jewellers 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
    Comox Valley Monarch Lions Club

    Elizabeth Braithwaite
    Jean Hawthorne


    Lawrence Burns
    Sheila Carvalho
    Perlita Docuria
    Coral Dunn
    Bent Harder
    Dove and Mike Hendren
    Joanne Jacobson
    Inge Krahn
    Phyllis Long
    Ginny Lowrie
    Ruth Masters
    Mary McCaffrey
    Evelyn Martin
    M.E. McKerrow
    Mary Mobley

    D. Mobley
    Richard Monks
    Barb Page
    Bernie Poole
    Alice Potts
    Robin Potts
    Gordon Schnare
    April Shopland
    George E. Sprogis
    Jean & Ian Sibbald
    Chuck & Mary Slemin
    Roberts and Adela Smith
    Donald Taylor
    M & J Tevington


    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