The Bulkley Valley Museum collects, preserves and presents items of historical and cultural significance from Smithers and the Bulkley Valley, with the purpose of making our local history exciting and engaging.
The Bulkley Valley Museum is located in the traditional territory of the Witsuwit’en.
The Museum was founded in large part by Ernest Hann, an early pioneer of the Bulkley Valley. Ernest was one of several local residents who had been slowly amassing a collection of documents, photographs and artifacts representing early settler history in the Valley. These personal collections became the core collection upon which the Museum was founded. A shift towards not only collecting, but also displaying materials came in 1967 when the Museum’s first public displays opened in the newly constructed Smithers Public Library, a centennial project for the Town of Smithers.
In 1971 the Museum was officially incorporated under the Society’s Act of British Columbia as the Bulkley Valley Historical & Museum Society. In 1974 as space became limited in the Library, the Museum was moved to the Central Park Building, a heritage building constructed in 1925 as the government building and courthouse. The Museum first shared space in the Central Park Building with the Smithers Art Gallery, later moving to its own space on the first floor. Today the Museum and its programing is enjoyed by over 5000 people per year, and is open year round.
The Bulkley Valley Museum is operated by the Bulkley Valley Historical & Museum Society (BVHMS). The Society elects a Board of Directors from its membership. Acting as a policy board, the Board of Directors are responsible for establishing vision, policy, and resources for the Museum. The BVHMS operates under the following mandate:
1. To gather and preserve local historical artifacts, information and records
2. To maintain and operate a museum to house and display said artifacts
3. To provide access to archival materials for research purposes
4. To encourage preservation of historical landmarks, including buildings and monuments
5. To facilitate learning
In 2017 the Museum adopted a new five-year strategic plan. This plan was built on public feedback gathered formally through a 2015 survey, and informally from visitor and community feedback between 2015-2017. The Board of Directors and Curator formalized the written plan in 2016. The plan outlines four key areas that will guide the Museum’s activities over the next five years: Collections Management Documentation and Storage, Community Investment, Exhibit Renewal, and Accessing History through Outreach and Programming.
Curator Kira Westby grew up in Peterborough, Ontario. She received her Honours Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology and History from Wilfrid Laurier University in 2010, and a Masters in Public History from the University of Western Ontario in 2011. Prior to moving to Smithers she worked at the archaeological collections facility Sustainable Archaeology: Western in London Ontario for three years. While living in London, Kira was the Emerging Leaders Representative on the London Advisory Committee on Heritage. She moved to Smithers in 2014 to take on the Curator position with the Museum.
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Assistant Curator Eric Holdijk was born and raised in Smithers. He received an Honours Bachelor of Arts in History with a minor in Spanish from the University of Victoria in 2016. He previously worked with the BV Museum as a summer student and as a Young Canada Works Building Careers in Heritage intern before taking a permanent position with the Museum in 2017.
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Archivist Manda Haligowski is originally from Winnipeg, MB. She completed a Bachelors in Fine Arts, in 2012, at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design. In 2015, she received a Masters in Library and Information Sciences from McGill University in Montreal, QC. She has worked in a variety of places, including the Health Sciences Centre Archives/Museum in Winnipeg, MB, the Jewish General Hospital Archives in Montreal, QC, and the International Federation of Red Crosses and Crescent Societies in Geneva, Switzerland. Manda joined the BV Museum as Archivist in 2016.
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The Bulkley Valley Museum receives operational funding assistance from the Town of Smithers, the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako, the British Columbia Arts Council, and the Province of British Columbia through the Community Gaming Grant. The Museum applies for additional funding for special projects or programs as required. To learn more about our funders and past projects or programs they have supported please contact the Museum.
The Bulkley Valley Museum also receives significant support for its activities and programs from local businesses through donations or corporate memberships. Become a corporate sponsor or obtain a corporate membership for your business.
The Bulkley Valley Museum is an institutional member of the British Columbia Museums Association, the Archives Association of British Columbia, the Canadian Museum Association, the BC Historical Federation, the Bulkley Valley Arts Council, and the Smithers and District Chamber of Commerce.