After a visit from PRRD board directors in May, the Don Nearhood museum inside the Peace Canyon Dam visitor centre is still in need of a new home.
The collection, handcrafted by Nearhood, was acquired by the PRRD in 1996 for $20,000, and includes historically significant replicas from the pioneer era: wagon teams, miniature log skids, sleighs, barns, agricultural equipment, ceramic horses, and a steamboat.
BC Hydro at the time offered to house the collection at Peace Canyon, though the visitor centre there ultimately closed.
Revisiting the topic at their July 14 board meeting, electoral director Karen Goodings suggested the collection be offered to the whole Peace region as a travelling exhibit, but specifically Buick, as that’s where Nearhood lived and created the impressive miniatures at his home.
“I really believe this is a tourism opportunity where we could in fact have tourism that would be in every one of the seven municipalities in our area,” she said. “It would enhance, I think, our area.”
To that end, a report will be prepared by the PRRD examining best options and communities interested in the collection.
However, the ceramic used in many of the pieces need to be kept in a climate-controlled setting to prevent cracking. The fragility of the collection limits where it can be safely relocated. Several pioneer photographs also accompany the collection, and also need careful stewardship.
“The biggest concern is that the ceramic horses would have to be kept in an environmentally correct, temperature-controlled atmosphere,” said Goodings.
CAO Shawn Dahlen says the next possible step in any relocation may be constructing adequate climate controls to house the collection, in addition to moving costs.
“That may even involve additional construction to accommodate the piece if we do find a home for it,” he said.
Tumbler Ridge Mayor Keith Bertrand recommended the PRRD speak with his community’s museum and community centre, as they have both space and climate controls.
“We did have the pleasure of going out and seeing it; it is quite extensive, the scale and size of each piece,” he said.
Hudson’s Hope Mayor Dave Heiberg said he understands the value of the collection to the region’s history and heritage, agreeing that a regional approach is best.
“I think a lot of the themes could be reflected in the region, but there are some concerns around how we can keep this protected, and space – that’s our concern right now,” he said.
Tom Summer, Alaska Highway News, Local Journalism Initiative.
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Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Alaska Highway News