What began as an idea to display some memorabilia at Texada Legion 232 in Van Anda blossomed into a full-fledged museum, where visitors can handle artifacts like survival gear, uniforms and even a cannonball from the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759.
“I saw a small museum at a Legion in Surrey a few years ago,” said Texada Legion 232 president John Redekop. “We took a look at the storage room in our basement and thought, ‘why can’t we do the same?’ At first, we thought it would be small, but then we got a grant through Canada 150, and things snowballed from there. We put out a call for artifacts, and two years later we have a massive collection, and the donations keep coming.”
Most of the museum’s artifacts come from Texada islanders who have either served in the armed forces or had family who served. Each artifact is catalogued with the name of the person who donated it, where it came from and the story behind it.
“The stories are what I love the best,” said Legion sergeant-at-arms and museum curator David Colussi. “When I learn the history of an artifact, I can tell it to others, and that helps both individuals and society remember the sacrifices of people in our past.”
One of the unique aspects of the Texada Legion Museum is the opportunity for visitors to touch the artifacts.
“Having the museum be hands-on was important to us,” said Redekop. “Our visitors, children especially, are able to put their hands on a trumpet or pick up a shell and feel what history is all about.”
Colussi encourages people to handle the artifacts.
“Holding a newspaper or a gas mask while learning about the history of it introduces tactile memory,” said Colussi. “It’s an educational process all the way through.”
The museum has sections dedicated to each branch of the armed forces, as well as sections for the United Nations and RCMP. A cadet section is in the planning stages as the museum expands. There are unique and rare artifacts throughout, such as an amputation kit from the First World War; the December 7, 1943, Honolulu Star-Bulletin newspaper; and an original D-Day intelligence briefing document.
“I don’t know if even Ottawa has this,” said Colussi with a laugh, adding that the Texada has multiple locations that feature historical artifacts and information.
“Visitors can now do a Texada museum crawl for a fun day exploring history,” he added. “There’s the Texada Island Heritage Society’s museum about geology and history of mining, the Texada Aviation Museum at the airport, and then us here at the Legion.”
The museum is open during Legion hours, but Colussi can welcome visitors at any time with advance notice. To schedule a visit, contact the Legion at 604.486.7750 or Colussi directly at 604.344.2160.
“Whenever people from out of town come in, they’re just blown away,” said Redekop. “We don’t have a giant museum, but it’s full of wonderful things, and it’s thanks to the community that it happened at all. We’d love for everyone to come over to Texada and have a look.”
For ferry schedules between Powell River and Texada, go to bcferries.com.