Okanagan Historical Society Goes Digital By Andrea Dujardin-Flexhaug
he Oliver-Osoyoos Branch of the Okanagan Historical Society is slowly but surely getting in tune with the computer age, in an attempt to make the records of the past last well into the future.. They have enlisted the help of UBC-Okanagan students to digitize all of the past physical copies of the reports, with the 75th edition printed last fall. The OHS’s main project, the annual OHS Report, includes original stories about local history and pioneers. Like many other print publications, it has experienced a decline in physical sales, and the possibility of e-books was brought up by president Larry Shannon at the Branch’s annual meeting recently. “It’s a whole new world,” he commented during the OHS’s annual meeting on March 25, a world that he said the Society is ‘trying to adjust to.” In that regard, the OHS has enlisted UBCOkanagan to digitize an index of all the reports save for the latest ones, so a researcher can click in a search word and get a list of articles. However, a smaller number of the reports will continue to be printed, with the next one due out in the fall. If anyone has a last minute idea for a fresh look at local history, they can still submit an original article to Oliver/Osoyoos OHS Editor Kev Favrholdt at email@example.com by the April 30 deadline Guest speaker for the meeting was Osoyoos Museum Curator Ken Favrholdt, who spoke on the topic of ‘150 Years of The Port of Osoyoos.’ He took the members on a brief look back at the total of eight custom houses (plus one temporary one) that served the Osoyoos area through the years. He also spoke about the new Customs House online exhibit which can be viewed at www.osoyoosmuseum.ca Favrholdt reported that in May a student from UBCO will be coming to work for the summer at the museum, and interviewing pioneers and old-timers in the area on a digital recorder for posterity. If anyone can think of possible interviewees, he asks that they contact him at the Osoyoos Museum at 495-2582. In another grant project, all of the past issues of the Osoyoos Times microfilm will be scanned onto digital format, to make for more advanced use by researchers. Favrholdt also reported that there will be new efforts to put interpretive signage around town in conjunction with the Town, as well as plans to publish a walking tour booklet for visitors of Osoyoos sites. Plans are also in the works for a new museum exhibit on the history of Osoyoos from 1861-1946 which has not been “well represented” thus far, he notes.
Planning is also taking place on an ongoing basis for the new museum which will be housed in the Osoyoos Home Building on Main Street in the future. “It’s a big shell of a building that we could do alot with,” noted Favrholdt. The public referendum last year for this move was successful, and the Building Centre is due to vacate the building within five years. This gives the museum time to plan, renovate and fundraise, as well as hire consultants, etc. Favrholdt noted that a meeting is planned with architects “very soon.” Oliver Archivist Lyn Alaric was not able to attend the meeting, but did send along a report on behalf of the Oliver & District Heritage Society. The report noted that its president Michael Newman and the society were ‘streamlining operational functions” at the presently closed Oliver Museum, and taking inventory and assessing the relevance of present collections . They also plan to do renovations such as upgrading wheelchair access and community space on the main floor. The O&DHS’s goal is to “reopen the museum ASAP.” The Archives continues to remain open, and has a new website at www.Oliverheritage.ca Past issues and the latest issue of the OHS Report are available in the gift shop. In other OHS news, the group is moving ahead with plans for highway signage at the historical Testalinda site near Oliver, as a marker of the First Nations crossing, Testalinda School and major slide. The OHS in conjunction with the Oliver & District Heritage Society is trying to identify who is buried in the Fairview Cemetery, but have restricted access because it has been blocked off by private interests. In this regard, a letter will be drafted and sent to local RDOS directors Allan Patton and Mark Pendergraft to emphasize the society’s position that it thinks it is important to preserve access to historical areas and sites. The same public access has been blocked on the Golden Mile Trail, with the RDOS looking into that. The new slate of officers for the Oliver-Osoyoos Branch were elected for 2012: President Larry Shannon, Vice-president Gayle Cornish, secretary Mary Englesby and treasurer Mary Roberts. Delegates to the Executive Council of the OHS include Ken Favrholdt, Gayle Cornish and Larry Shannon. Anyone who is interested in helping preserve and record the history of the local area is encouraged to join the Oliver/Osoyoos Branch or attend one of the twice yearly meetings. For more information please phone Larry Shannon at 498-2452.
OKANAGAN SUN • APRIL 2012 • 27
Okanagan Sun - April 2012