Courtenay & District Museum

  • Lecture: Going Underground
  • Birthday Parties
  • Sponsoring the Museum
  • 2008-2009 Sponsors
  • Behind the Scenes
  • Photo of the Month
  • Museum Funding

  • Phone:



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

    Tuesday to Saturday
    10am - 5pm

    Sunday and Monday:

    John Wilson

    Vice President
    Daryl Wright

    Past President
    April Shopland

    Elizabeth Braithwaite

    Ruth Masters
    Rick Ross
    Jim Haggart
    Ross Dingwall

    Member of...

    British Columbia Museums Association

    Canadian Museums

    Archives Association of
    British Columbia

    Heritage Society of British Columbia


    Going Underground:
    The Vancouver Island Coal Industry in the 19th Century

    Speaker: Dr. John Belshaw
    When: Wednesday, March 25th, 7 pm
    Where: Courtenay and District Museum
    Cost: $6 non-members; $5 Historical Society Members. Advance tickets recommended.

    The industrial revolution arrived on Vancouver Island in 1848, the same year Marx and Engels published the Communist Manifesto. The fifty years that followed would see the creation of a chain of mining communities built around two things: wrestling good quality bituminous coal from the bowels of the earth and an idea – imperialism.

    John Belshaw, author of the prize-winning Colonization & Community: The Vancouver Island Coalfield and the Making of the BC Working Class, will describe the connections between the mines, the miners, and the British Empire’s insatiable hunger for steam. He will show how the combination of grinding physical labour and both lofty and ugly attitudes on Vancouver Island were unique, and how the bloody-knuckled communities that sprang from them - from Ladysmith through Cumberland – were distinct. "This - not fishery and forestry – was the backbone of the colonial economy," says Belshaw. "It is what made Vancouver Island and, in no small measure, British Columbia as well."

    John Belshaw is also the author of Becoming British Columbia: A Population History (UBC Press 2009) and co-author of the forthcoming Private Grief , Public Mourning: The Rise of the Roadside Shrine in B.C. (Anvil 2009). Belshaw is Associate Vice President of Education at North Island College.

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    Birthday Parties

    Attention all parents!
    Looking to give your child an exciting adventure in palaeontology? The Courtenay and District Museum offers just that! Give your child the birthday party of their dreams with one of our exciting party packages suitable for children aged 5 to 12.

    Option A: Inside the Museum

    Duration: 2 hours
    Cost: $80.00 plus G.S.T.
    Maximum: 12 children.

    • Guided tour of the museum
    • One hour Rotary Gallery use
    • Activity: Make a fossil mold and cast to take home!

    * Does not include housekeeping services. A fee may be charged for any staff time needed to restore the Rotary Gallery to its pre-rental condition. At least two adults must accompany the children.

    Option B: Museum and fossil dig

    Duration: 3 hours
    Cost: $110.00 plus G.S.T.
    Maximum: 12 children

    • Guided tour of the museum
    • One hour use of the Rotary Gallery
    • Activity: Fossil collecting excursion to the Puntledge River!

    * Parents are responsible for transportation to and from the museum to dig site. All necessary tools will be provided. At least two adults must accompany the children.

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    Sponsoring the Museum

    It is with great pleasure that we announce the success and continuation of our sponsorship initiative to support museum programming and extension. The Courtenay Museum is an exciting destination that interprets cultural and natural heritage of the Comox Valley through exhibitions, lectures, special events and programmes. The museum hosts over 35,000 local, national and international visitors a year.

    Upcoming events in 2009 will include celebrations, tours, lectures and exhibits. As well, we will continue to provide ongoing programming and field trips to students in the Comox Valley.  

    Many of the museum's programmes would not be possible without strong sponsorship from our donors and funders. We respectfully request your one-year sponsorship in order to continue to carry out these worthwhile programmes.  

    The levels of sponsorship are:

    • $1,500 Dogwood
    • $1,000 Garry Oak
    • $750 Arbutus
    • $500 Fir
    • Up to $500 Seedling

    Sponsors at the Dogwood level will have their logo or name featured on the museum's newsletter, website and on any publications the museum produces. Additionally, the Courtenay and District Museum is a charitable organization, so contributions are tax deductible.

    Your contributions can also be made on a monthly basis. All sponsors above the $500 level will receive a museum membership and a complimentary copy of the coffee table book The Comox Valley by Paula Wild.

    We hope you will consider being a part of this worthwhile initiative as we promote and interpret the exciting natural and cultural heritage of the Comox Valley. Please feel free to contact us at 250-334-0686 if you have any questions or desire further information.

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    2008-2009 Sponsors

    Judy and Stan Hagen                 
    Daryl and Evelyn Wright - Francis Jeweller's Ltd.
    The Rotary Club of Courtenay Foundation

    Comox Valley Echo
    Marjorie Thorpe                 
    The Bickle Family
    Lorna Gunn

    Elizabeth Braithwaite

    Dove and Mike Hendren                  
    Ruth Masters                 
    Deborah Griffiths                 
    John and Joan Wilson                 
    Ed LaFleur
    George E. Sprogis
    Doug and Donna Kerr

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    Behind the Scenes: The Souna

    CDM 992.19.18

    For over 25 years, the Courtenay Museum has been a work site host to Katimavik participants from across Canada. This spring, participant Kaitlyn Brenton has chosen one of the museum's more unusual items to write about for this newsletter.

    Housed within the collections of the Courtenay Museum, the Chinese souna, also called the laba, is a double reeded woodwind instrument originally made from bamboo.

    Sounas are one of two woodwind instruments of China and have brass on both ends, eight finger holes, and normally a small bell on the top. They are part of the double reed family that originated in North America and spread to the Middle East, Europe, and Asia.

    A sister to the oboe, the souna has a loud high-pitched sound and was used mainly in operas, orchestras, and outdoor celebrations. It was, and still is, very important in the Chinese provinces of Shandong and Henan, where it's used for military purposes.

    The idea for the souna was taken from the Turkish Zurna (a brass instrument with a similar sound). A drawing of a musician playing a zurna is pictured on a religious monument to the Silk Road (the most well known silk trading route of ancient china) in western Xijang. The drawing dates back to the third or fifth century, but the souna did not appear in Chinese literature until the Ming dynasty (1368-1644).

    Though it is an ancient instrument, the souna is still used in the modern day. You will hear it in orchestras and Chinese folk ensembles that are very loud and generally use a lot of percussion. It is even being used today in parades by modern day Shriners.

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    Photo of the Month

    CDM #988.203.10
    St. Joseph's Hospital, Comox, 1920s

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

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    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, Comox Valley Charitable Bingo Foundation, and from museum generated revenues and donations.

    Proud sponsors of the Courtenay & District Museum:


    The City of Courtenay


    BC Arts Councils

    BC Hydro

    Regional District Comox-Strathcona

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