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Delta throwback: A long road for citizens getting their museum

It took years for Delta citizens to get their own museum
delta-museum-1969 (1)
Alfred Guichon picks up a heavy cast iron frying pan in the kitchen display at Delta’s new museum in 1969. The Gurney-Oxford coal and wood range came from the Frank Weaver home in East Delta.

Concern about inevitable changes with the upcoming opening of the Deas Island Tunnel prompted local residents to discuss the need for a new museum to preserve the community’s heritage.

Those discussions were first held by Delta's 1958 Centennial Committee, chaired by Art Swenson.

The committee was formed to celebrate Delta's history as part of B.C.'s celebration of 100 years as a colony of the British Empire.

In 1961, Delta citizens gathered to talk about forming an historical society and a potential museum site. Families at the time were encouraged to collect and store artifacts until a new facility was available.

As it turned out, Delta’s Historic Municipal Hall building in Ladner Village became available a few years later when a new city hall opened in the civic centre.

Delta's Historical and Museum Society’s first president was the Delta Optimist’s Edgar Dunning.

He greeted BC Premier W.A.C Bennett for the November 1969 grand opening celebration of Delta’s new museum. It happened 90 years after Delta's incorporation.

The society’s initial agreement with the city included the new museum being only staffed by volunteers.

Decades later, it was obvious the community needed a new, better equipped museum facility. It took years before the city, citing the cost to build a new stand-alone building, agreed to such a move.

This year, the city celebrated the opening of another new museum and cultural centre, named the Douglas J. Husband Discovery Centre after the former mayor. The facility is located in the other former city hall building at the civic centre, next to the already relocated archives.

The city has assumed its daily operations but the society, which is now called the Delta Heritage Society, still has a role.

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