For the Record: Archiving the Past in the Present

Gabriola Museum

Submitted Article

Thursday, March 12 2015

Before you toss out photographs, letters, emails, maps and the like, ask yourself if these materials could “tell a story of Gabriola.” If so, the museum’s archives would like to have them. These archives were created to preserve the island’s history - a history that is continually unfolding. All too often, particularly when an issue is current, many of us assume that “everyone knows” and so pertinent documents and artifacts are discarded. Yet these same materials may in ten or twenty years become an important part of the historical record and an invaluable resource to historians, family history buffs, students and storytellers.   

An illustrative example is the current debate over a fixed link. Proposals for fixed links to Vancouver Island are not new. At a public forum last March held in the Gabriola Museum, participants heard that the idea goes back at least 150 years when BC first entered Confederation with Canada. The museum’s archives have recently obtained two new batches of documents that add new light to the long-standing debate on building a fixed link between Gabriola and Vancouver Island. 

The first set of documents fill in details about the 1993 BC Ferries proposal to locate a new terminal at Drumbeg Park. The plan would have included a new road across the south end from Drumbeg to a bridge at False Narrows, a road along the east side of Mudge Island, and a second bridge from Mudge to Joan Point on Vancouver Island. BC Ferries eventually scrapped the Drumbeg scheme and located their new terminal at Duke Point. The documents include letters, maps and the original assessments on the potential impact of a road and bridge on sensitive petroglyph sites. These documents are an important and unique addition to the historical record on the 1993 ferry terminal and bridge debate. 

 The second set of documents, obtained through a BC Government Freedom of Information request, refer to the Gabriola Bridge Society. These materials relate to the current BC government decision to conduct a feasibility study on a bridge between Gabriola and Vancouver Island. Archive materials are public and can be viewed or used for research purposes by contacting the Gabriola Museum at info@gabriolamuseum.org.