It’s been a busy past few weeks for Honor Neve, new curator at the Cranbrook History Centre — that sumptuous and elegant repository of the historical soul of Cranbrook along Van Horne Street.
The new keeper of this cultural heritage, Neve is seeking to grow the History Centre as a whole — maintaining and developing it’s multi-part collection, and the Royal Alexandra Hall, developing strategies and policies for conservation plans — “and to showcase all aspects of the area’s history,” Neve said.
Neve acquired her museum and curatorial acumen via a circuitous route, but knows the area and its historical details well. Growing up Wycliffe, she attended school in Kimberley and finished high school in Cranbrook. She then took her Bachelor of History at the University of Victoria, followed by a Masters of Science in Museum Studies in Glasgow, Scotland.
Back in B.C., she worked for a spell at Fort Steele Heritage Town before taking on oversight of the History Centre.
This history is contained in the Centre’s Railway Museum — “the Jewel in the Crown” of the Centre.
The Railway Museum boast 28 vintage railway cars from the golden eras of North American rail travel, many of which are available to public tours. Current preservation efforts are underway, including the construction of a massive timber frame structure.
And a nearby model railroad display is the largest such in southeast B.C.
Deep time is represented in the Centre’s paleontological exhibit, a relatively new and unique collection of area fossils, many from the Cambrian Period of 450 million years ago.
The Cranbrook Museum explores the history of Cranbrook and the East Kootenay region with artifacts, clothing and information panels.
The Archives are the nerve centre of the facility, with over 45,000 artifacts and records, and a complete collection of newspapers dating back over 120 years.
Neve says the archives are an especially active aspect of the centre, providing historical information for family genealogists and amateur historians from close to home and far away. “We get a lot of requests for information every week, especially concerning family history,” Neve said.
There is, of course, the Royal Alexandra Hall, moved from Winnipeg and restored in Cranbrook, renowned for its elegance — and acoustics.
As curator, marketing and events planning per se doesn’t fall under Neve’s bailiwick. “But part of my role is to engage with the community — my community,” she said.