The Columbia Basin Trust is currently supporting 42 heritage projects around the Kootenay region with over $2 million.
Heritage buildings, archives and museum artifacts are part of how communities in the Kootenay region hold onto their histories. To make sure future generations can also benefit from these historical assets, the Columbia Basin Trust has committed over $2 million to 42 different heritage projects, from digitizing historical school yearbooks, to creating a municipal conservation policy, to upgrading how a museum stores its artifacts, to repairing and preserving heritage structures.
“In as many ways as history is varied, the methods to preserve this history vary as well,” said Johnny Strilaeff, President and CEO, Columbia Basin Trust. “That’s why we’re open to being flexible in how we support heritage-related needs in the Basin, such as grants for built heritage, museums and archives, capacity support and purchasing assets ourselves.”
In Ainsworth, the JB Fletcher Restoration Society will be repairing the JB Fletcher Store, including stabilizing the storefront, removing lead paint and mould, and adding heating and insulation. Built in 1896, the store is valued as one of the last surviving buildings from the original Ainsworth townsite, which is considered the oldest mining settlement in the West Kootenay.
In Kimberley’s community of Marysville, the Old Marysville Schoolhouse will be getting a new coat of exterior paint. Used as a school from 1910 to 1949, the school has already had its interior restored and outfitted as an early 20th-century schoolhouse. Owned by the Kimberley District Heritage Society, it is currently open to the public as a museum and used by school classes.
“This project is important as it preserves one of our oldest intact heritage buildings and will provide future generations with a tangible part of our history,” said Marie Stang, Administrator. “We hope that projects like this will encourage others to preserve heritage buildings too, rather than discarding them, so that they may continue to tell the story of our community and its people.”
Another way the Trust is helping preserve Basin heritage is by purchasing two grain elevators. Located in the town of Creston and over eighty years old, these elevators represent a Canadian symbol that is rapidly disappearing, and are two of just four wooden grain elevators left in British Columbia. To ensure their existence into the future, the Trust has become their new owners, with essential repairs coming soon.
The Trust is also supporting the Cranbrook History Centre with $300,000 to build a train shed to protect some of its most valuable railcars. In addition, it has committed $7.8 million over three years to “support the Basin’s heritage values.” Partnering with Heritage BC, the CBT is supporting a Kootenay-based heritage planner who will help local groups and organizations increase their capacity for conserving the region’s heritage.