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Comment: Nothing like Old Town in other museums

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The Old Town exhibit in the Royal B.C. Museum is decked out in its Christmas finery. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

A commentary by a Saanich resident with a lasting interest in history.

I was born in 1936 and grew up in England during the blitz. The idea that history should be hidden from the public is absolutely abhorrent to me.

I came to Canada in 1965 in order to build a new future. I first visited the Royal B.C. Museum around five years after I arrived, together with my husband and son.

The juxtaposition on the third floor of the Old Town and the First Peoples exhibit was the most fascinating, as it provided a great time capsule into early B.C. and in many ways helped to orientate myself having just moved here and now having historical perspective to draw on.

The smells in the exhibits transported one back in time and made you feel like you had lived the experience, which is a testament to how well the exhibits achieved the effect of transporting one into history. Smells stick very well in memory and make one feel as if the past has been brought back to life and almost as if you had lived during those times.

As a result of those factors, the third floor sticks in my mind the most of any of the exhibits in the museum. I have never seen an exhibit like the Old Town in any other museum.

The First Peoples Galleries were wonderful. The fascinating masks and learning about the way of life of native peoples including about their basketry, food-gathering methods and construction of different habitations, along with the spiritual intensity of their culture and how this was intimately connected with their traditional artistry, in particular stuck with me.

It would be nice if there was added information about their traditional methods of stewarding the land and sea in a sustainable way that we could learn from in the present.

I’ve always been fond of the First Peoples and have worked with Indigenous children in the local schools. Having seen the museum exhibits it made me aware how important it was to have good resources in the libraries for native children about their history, stories and cultural traditions, and also the importance of having instruction from Indigenous peoples in the schools, which unfortunately the schools lacked along with the books.

The museum exhibits also helped spur interesting interactions with their parents, and made it clear how important it was to be involved with the native peoples, now being able to relate to their fascinating history and traditional ways of life.

I attended potlatch ceremonies and met many interesting Indigenous people including Chief Dan George, who struck me with his kindness and was the perfect person to be an ambassador for native peoples, because he was loved by so many people.

I have visited the museum countless times with friends and family and guests and have always thoroughly enjoyed it.

I particularly found it to be a great immersive experience for young people to get a sense of history and their place in it, that is available in few other places.