Step into the past and explore the vibrant history of the Cowichan Valley. The Museum’s permanent exhibits illustrate early pioneer life in the valley and are housed in the Jack Fleetwood Gallery, the Alderlea General Store, and in the King’s Daughters’ Hospital Gallery. The Museum’s Meeting Room also houses a number of fascinating permanent exhibits.
The Jack Fleetwood Gallery
Filled with exhibits that allow visitors to experience early pioneer life in the Cowichan area, it includes the Home of 1912, as well as commercial, recreational and agricultural displays. The Railway display in this gallery helps to illustrate the story of how Sir John A. Macdonald participated in the establishment of a train station in Duncan.
This gallery was named in honour of Jack Fleetwood, a well-loved local historian who made an enormous contribution to the preservation of history in the Cowichan Valley.
The Alderlea General Store
This re-creation of a General Store boasts a spectacular collection of merchandise used by pioneers – everything from buttons to bear traps. A general store during pioneer times was the lifeblood of the community, not only offering impossible to find products, but also services such as a post office, telephone centre and even a dentist. Our supportive community has donated hundreds of fascinating objects for this exhibit and it’s well worth a visit.
King’s Daughters’ Hospital
Its full title, the ‘International Order of King’s Daughters & the King’s Daughters Hospital’ originated in New York in 1886 and was made up of a group of middle and upper class women whose purpose was to do good deeds in God’s name. In 1886, Bessie Maitland-Dougal arrived in the Cowichan Valley and by 1887 founded the first Circle of the King’s Daughters in Canada and was the first president of the provincial group. Mrs. Maitland-Dougal died in 1904 and the provincial body of the King’s Daughters adopted the Duncan Convalescent Home as its project in her memory.
King’s Daughters’ Hospital was ‘founded by women, run by women’. The King’s Daughters supported the Hospital by making hospital linens and they sold handiwork such as knitting and baking in order to raise money for the Hospital. The women ran the hospital both on the board of trustees and as staff. The Hospital opened on April 4, 1911 and served the Cowichan Valley for 56 years on Hospital Hill, overlooking Somenos Lake. The Hospital was a well-known training centre for nurses.
The mandate of the Hospital was to ‘take in accident and emergency cases; to receive convalescents and broken down women, build up their strength and turn them out a little more fit. Also to take men who became ill away from home and give them the needed hospital care’.
FIRST NATIONS GALLERY
The Thompson Bequest, a collection of First Nations art that includes some of master carver Simon Charlie’s work, is displayed. A collection of First Nations-themed archival photos is on view, as well as artifacts from the Museum's collection. Several photographs are used in a sp0ecial exhibit for which stories are provided in both Hul'q'umi'num and English. "Memorial Dolls" is a video created by Prof. Donna Gerdts that features Quamichan Elder Ruby Peter demonstrating how to make memorial dolls.