Donna Barnett is looking for the District of 100 Mile House’s support in installing a museum at the Lodge. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Donna Barnett is looking for the District of 100 Mile House’s support in installing a museum at the Lodge. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Former MLA seeks district support to create museum at The Lodge

Donna Barnett proposed the idea to council Tuesday.

Donna Barnett is on a mission to see 100 Mile House’s history preserved in a new museum in the Lodge building.

As mayor of 100 Mile House in 2007, Barnett said the district granted a lease to the District of 100 Mile Museum Society to establish a museum. Work was put into collecting artifacts but the project was stymied two years later when a new administration cancelled the lease due to concerns about the structural integrity of the building’s foundations.

Now, over a decade later Barnett has submitted a letter to the current council asking if it will support – yay or nay – creating a museum at the Lodge. The hall is the only place suitable for the museum, she said, as that is where the community of 100 Mile House began.

The Emissaries of Divine Light donated the Exeter Hall, Chapel and Lodge to the town. It was their hope the Lodge would be turned into a museum, Barnett recalled. The building has been used over the last few years and she figures the District has had plenty of time to invest in repairing it.

“Every community in British Columbia, pretty well, has a museum. Believe it or not, there’s even all the history in Spuzzum and I don’t think many people even drive off the road there,” Barnett remarked. “Everywhere has a museum and we have such a great history here and if we don’t do it now, most of the people who have our history in their heads will be gone.”

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A museum would not only preserve this history but help educate young people and attract tourists to the area, Barnett said. With the local forestry industry still suffering from the effects of fires, floods and beetle infestations she said the community needs to look to strengthening other industries.

The artifacts, collected by Elsie and Gary Babcock and Tom and Marianne Rutledge, are currently being stored in 108 Mile Ranch, Barnett said. She added that if a museum was to be installed, there are those in the community with historical items of their own who would gladly donate them.

“This is something that needs to be done out of respect and necessity. New initiatives for the South Cariboo and 100 Mile House are what we need.”

Barnett said she hopes that council will say yes to her proposition and give her their blessing to form a society to begin working towards founding a museum. She’s already gathered a group of “energetic, excited people” ready to volunteer their time, should they get the go-ahead.

If they do form a society, Barnett said she intends to document the history of the area as far as they can. This would include the days of the Emissaries, the Cariboo Gold Rush and the history of the Canim Lake Band.

“I’ve talked to so many people and so many people are interested in the history. So many people know that we need to have a place to put the history.”

Council has appointed Coun. Ralph Fossum to liaise with the Museum Society to review the concept as well as any rehab costs and logistical issues at the Lodge. He will report back to council at a later date.


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