The Museum at Campbell River started out with a single exhibition in 1958, located within the lobby of a simple sports fishing lodge. This exhibit was collected and then presented by a small group of people who were interested in the history of mankind in Northern Vancouver Island, particularly the culture and art of the First Nations. The museum was established in 1961 as a non-profit organization.
The expanding collection of the Museum at Campbell River was originally spread out across multiple locations within the community. In 1967, the collection was moved into one location at a purpose-built facility as part of a local project commemorating the Centennial Year of Canada. However, the collection had become too large for the facility by 1978, which led to a plan in 1987 for a new museum building.
Eleven noted experts specializing in the ethnology and history of this region of Canada assisted in the development of an outline for potential museum topics. A floor plan, as well as basic scale model of the museum, were created by 1989, this established a basic plan for the major exhibits of the Museum at Campbell River. In 1994, the museum was completed. Within its twenty-one thousand square feet, the major exhibition galleries took up seven thousand square feet, along with another 1,700 square feet designed for temporary exhibitions.
The museum is situated on the grounds of a wooded seven-acre site, featuring an amazing view of the Discovery Passage, which still remains as a working shipping lane between Quadra Island Campbell River. The forested grounds also provide several opportunities for outdoor interpretation, displays, and other activities. The collection of the Museum at Campbell River consists of archival, archaeological, historic, and ethnographic materials from the area of Northern Vancouver Island. Items were specially collected from Oyster River north to Rivers Inlet and east to Desolation Sound.
Upon entering the First Nations exhibit gallery, visitors will see a contemporary sculpture by the title of Raven Transforming. The theme of transformation is significant in the customs of the Northwest Coast peoples, and is often represented in their artwork, both work from the past and the present. The gallery is still evolving, however. Once completed, it will showcase displays exploring several themes related to the area's First Nations history. Such themes include both modern and ancient fishing methods of the First Nations, archeological evidence of nine thousand years of settlement, and epidemics that faced the First Nations during the eighteenth century and nineteenth century.
The Pioneer Life gallery features a pioneer cabin built from Douglas Fir logs that is reflective of a cabin built near Bates Beach during the late nineteenth century. Immigrants settling within wild British Columbia at the time had to construct their home with whatever resources they could find nearby. This log cabin replica portrays the subsistence life of these early immigrants of Vancouver Island throughout the 1890's.
The Floathouse Living gallery illustrates the lifestyle that evolved along the coast of a hundred years ago. Within the exhibit is a life-size replica of a floathouse. In addition to the several other exhibits at the museum is the Van Isle Theater where visitors can watch short films.
470 Island Highway, Campbell River, British Columbia, Phone: 250-287-3103