Fifty years ago, Campbell Riverites were looking forward to attending a New Year’s dance being held at the Campbellton Community Hall. The hall was built by volunteer labour in 1923, but the interior was not actually completed nor equipped with sanitary facilities until November of 1949. In the early hours of the morning of December 31 of that year however, around 3:30 am, the roof and walls collapsed from the weight of the snow, two feet thick, that had been piling up on the roof. Only the two end walls were left standing (see photo). Fortunately, no one was in the building at the time – had it happened during the evening of the dance, there could well have been a number of injuries or even fatalities.
“The loss of the hall is a great blow to residents of the district as it was the only hall in the immediate vicinity large enough to accommodate large size gatherings.” Campbell River Courier January 4, 1950.
The hall (located at the site of the present day Mohawk gas station) was never rebuilt, then was demolished entirely in March of 2000. A new hall was constructed on land donated by the Royal Canadian Legion on 11th Ave and it opened in 1954, with the help of the Kinsmen and Rotary Clubs and several individuals who donated time and effort towards its completion, in an inspired show of community spirit. Incidentally, the unique edge-grained plywood floor that was the centrepiece of this building was salvaged by the Rotary Club and used in the Maritime Heritage Centre. The community hall that we have today was built in its place and completed in 2000.
The Museum Archives has a wonderful collection of books and newsclippings for those doing research on local history. Open 1-4, Tuesday to Friday or by appointment, 250-287-3103. There is no fee, but donations are gratefully accepted.
Dances of the Kwakiutl, from 1951
The potlatch, a ceremonial distribution of property and gifts unique to Northwest Coast peoples, was elaborately developed by the Kwakwaka’wakw – people of the Canadian Pacific Northwest. Their potlatches were often combined with performances by dancing societies, each society having a series of dances that dramatized ancestral interactions with supernatural beings. These beings were portrayed as giving gifts of ceremonial prerogatives such as songs, dances, and names, which became hereditary property.
Below is a magnificent film featuring Pacific Northwest Indian dances of the ancient winter ceremonial handed down among the Kwakiutl (Kwakwaka’wakw) families as their way of keeping history. Beautiful costumes and masks are worn by the dancers in this black and white film.
If you know the origins or history of this film please let us know the details.
Grouse Mask by Campbell River artist Raymond Shaw of Kwakiutl heritage. This stunning mask is carved in yellow cedar with cedar bark decoration. Total dimensions including cedar accents, 20” by 12”…buy it now just in time for Christmas!
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The Campbell River Museum maintains collections and archives from Campbell River’s wide and diverse history, culture and community. For more information about your local Campbell River Museum, call 250-287-3103 or visit www.crmuseum.ca