Hope Visitor Centre
Hope Visitor Centre and Museum Complex

Hope Museum

History of the Hope Museum

The Hope Museum was established in 1979 by the Hope and District Historical Society. The HDHS was a volunteer organization which endeavored to preserve the pioneer spirit of the community through the preservation and exhibition of artifacts.

The early emphasis on the ‘pioneer spirit’ resulted in exhibits dedicated to early resource extraction and European family life, with a primary focus on the years 1858 to 1920. We are currently working with local First Nations and School District #78 to improve representation in the museum. Our goal is to ensure that our exhibits reflect a diversity of experiences.

The Hope Museum is housed in the old RCMP jailhouse and administrative building. The building was vacated by the RCMP in the late 1960s/early 1970s. As the jailhouse alone was not big enough to house both a museum and a visitor centre, Hope Rotary Club volunteers built the A-frame at the front of the building in 1979 for the visitor centre. Much of the present-day visitor centre is from the re-purposed frame of an old gas station that used to be located on Old Hope Princeton Way.

The former jail is closed to the public as it houses our archives and the majority of our collection. If your group is interested in seeing the jail, tours must be booked in advance.

The Hope Museum is a valuable asset to the District of Hope. Over the years, stewardship of the museum has passed from the Hope and District Historical Society, to the Hope and District Chamber of Commerce, to a private corporation, and –ultimately– to AdvantageHOPE (Hope’s economic development and tourism agency). AdvantageHOPE has managed the museum since 2014. In that time, we have been working towards revitalizing our permanent exhibits and establishing more temporary exhibits.


Current Exhibits

  • Faces of Tashme

    During World War Two, thousands of Japanese-Canadians were forcibly removed from their homes, had their possessions confiscated, and were placed in internment camps. While the government cited wartime safety as a reason for operating the camps, in reality the war provided a convenient reason to act on entrenched anti-Asian racism. The last restrictions on Japanese-Canadians were not lifted until 1949: four years after the conclusion of hostilities in the Pacific. This exhibit commemorates the 2300 Canadians interned at Tashme, 20km east of Hope in present-day Sunshine Valley. It tells the story of life at Tashme though photos of the camp (taken from a collection found on the side of the road in 2007) and an oral history given by Tashme survivor Judy Kawaguchi. The photos and Kawaguchi's testimony speak to the hardships of life at Tashme, but also the human resilience that Tashme's residents showed while living and surviving this dark time in Canadian history. Many Japanese-Canadian families remained in the area after Tashme was closed down, and in 1991 the District of Hope erected the Japanese Friendship Garden in Memorial Park as a sign of reconciliation.
  • Flood of 1948

    In 1948, the Fraser River experienced one of its most significant floods in decades. In some places, the water level rose by 7.5 meters. While the township of Hope was largely unaffected, the flood devastated much of the Fraser Valley and the nearby community of Chawathil, which sits in a floodplain. No photos exist of Chawathil from the 1949 flood, so this exhibit consists of photos of a 1932 flood as well as an oral history by Doreen Bonneau. It highlights the lived experience of Chawathil residents and the community's resilience in surviving the flood. The exhibit is divided into three thematic components: 'Surviving', 'Rebuilding', and 'Aftermath of the Flood'.
  • Historic Model Rooms

    The Hope Museum features a selection of model rooms assembled to show everyday life for European settlers throughout Hope's history. This collection features a model schoolroom assembled in turn-of-the-century style, featuring artifacts from 1870 to 1947. Our turn-of-the-century bedroom set, kitchen, and living room showcase typical decor from the early 1900's, highlighting British influence on the ways in which settlers lived and decorated their homes.
  • Hope Cinema

    The Hope Cinema exhibit celebrates an important community institution, one of the last remaining single-screen movie theatres in BC. Visitors to this exhibit can see how the cinema, and it's role in the community, have changed over the years. It documents the theatre's origins in the celebratory climate of the Post-World War Two era, as well as the financial impacts of television becoming more popular in the 1950's and 1960's. The theatre saw a high point in popularity during the filming of Rambo: First Blood, as citizens gathered there to watch the crew work and seek autographs from the film's many stars. In the 21st century, the theatre has become a landmark and now serves the community by hosting the Hope Film Club's monthly screenings and the Vagabond Adventure Film Show-- a locally-grown film show.
  • Hudson's Bay Company: Fort Hope

    European settlement in Hope can be traced back to Fort Hope, established by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1848. It was an important navigation and communication link between Fort Langely, near the Pacific Coast, and Fort Kamloops, in the BC Interior. The Hudson's Bay Company Exhibit contains a number of artifacts from Fort Hope, including a cumberband worn by voyageurs. It also shows the lasting impact of the Hudson's Bay Company in Hope, where it continues to sell branded items.
  • Industrial Histories of Hope

    Have you ever wondered what equipment gold miners used during the Fraser Canyon gold rush of 1858? Do you want to see a real chainsaw from the 1950's? Are you interested in the history of the Kettle Valley and Canadian Pacific Railways? The Hope Museum has a large collection of artifacts from the various industries that have operated in and around our community throughout the years. These exhibits show visitors some of the tools and technology used by Hope's early settlers and offers a glimpse into their lives and livelihoods. Keep your eye out for the sign from the Jessica tunnels, part of the Kettle Valley railway, and a collection of materials from Hard Rock Mining. The collection also includes maps of mining claims made during the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush. As a collection of artifacts centered on the pioneer history of Hope, the industrial history exhibits reflect the Hope Museum's initial focus on pioneers and European settlers.
  • No Resources, No Hope

    The extraction of natural resources played a major role in shaping the early European settlement of Hope. No Resources, No Hope explores the importance of Hope's resources in attracting investors and securing three railway lines through the town. The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) was the first to traverse Hope, and connected BC to the rest of Canada. Once minerals were discovered in the south, however, it quickly became apparent that the northern CPR route was not adequate to protect Canadian economic interests from the Americans. Additional rail capacity would be needed in order to transport the goods within Canada and avoid losing revenue to the US. In response to this need, the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR) was built through the south of BC and into the Kootenays. Hope was the terminus of the railway. Building a railway through BC's many mountains required significant feats of engineering, especially the building of tunnels. This exhibit particularly highlights Hope's famous Othello Tunnels, which were an important part of the Kettle Valley route. They were designed by chief engineer Andrew McCullouch and were constructed by Chinese and European labourers, whose work was exceedingly dangerous. By 1916, three railways passed through the area: the CPR, KVR, and the Canadian Northern Pacific (CNP) Railway. The CNP eventually became the Canadian National railway, which continues to pass through the community, while the KVR ceased to operate after a large washout destroyed much of the track along what is now the Coquihalla highway. Visitors to this exhibit can look through maps of Hope from throughout the twentieth century and view photos of all three railway lines, learning how historians use physical evidence to show change over time.
  • Rambo: First Blood

    This exhibit celebrates the filming of Rambo: First Blood, which took place in Hope in the Fall of 1981. The exhibit features photographs from the filming of the movie and is located just two blocks away from Wallace Street, which is featured prominently throughout the film. The exhibit also provides insights into the filming process and its importance in turning BC into "Hollywood North." Rambo: First Blood was one of the first big-budget American movies to be filmed in Canada.
  • Roots of Medicine

    This exhibit is dedicated to the historical and present-day use of medicinal plants in Hope by the Stó:lō people. While First Nations have used medicinal plants for centuries, the arrival of European settlers popularized processed food, which were easier and more convenient to eat. Many people are now beginning to turn back to these natural plants for their health benefits. Four traditional medicines are featured in this exhibit, which was based on knowledge shared by Jessica Poirier. Stinging nettle was used to treat disorders of the urinary and gastrointestinal tract. It was also used in the treatment of arthritis, as people would use the plant to hit themselves, localizing the pain so that one's white blood cells would travel to the affected spot. Wild ginger was and is used as a natural laxative, as well as to treat colds, colic, indigestion, and stomach pain. Blue elderberry, which is rich in vitamins A and C, was used for colds, stomach aches, sinus congestion, constipation, and sore throats. Red elderberry has many of the same properties as blue, but must not be eaten raw as it can cause diarrhea.
  • Steamboats on the Fraser

    Steamboats on the Fraser details the history of steamboat travel through Hope and into the Fraser Canyon. During the 1830's, steamboats were a convenient means of travel from Victoria to Yale, 20 kilometers north of Hope. They had to be extremely powerful in order to battle the treacherous waves and currents of the Fraser River. This exhibit features an authentic piece of The Beaver, the most powerful steamboat of the era. It measured 20 feet wide, 100 feet long, and contained two 35 horsepower engines. The exhibit also features a steamboat wheel, found buried in the sand of the Fraser River near Yale. Steamboats eventually contributed to their own demise, transporting materials that would be used in the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. This made it easier to travel into the interior by road or by train than by steamboat. Furthermore, when the gold rush subsided, many miners began to settle into a more sedentary lifestyle. A number of miners came to Hope, where they became loggers and businesspeople.
  • Station House

    Visitors to Hope will soon notice the Old Station House, which sits at the junction of Water Avenue and Old Hope Princeton Way. This exhibit explains the history of the Station House, originally built in 1916 for use by the Great Northern Railway. Three years later, it was transferred to the Canadian National (CN) Railway. In 1984 it was sold to the Village Arts and Crafts society for $1 and would soon become a community gathering place. The Station House is the future home of the Hope Museum.
  • Stó:lo Artifacts

    Stó:lō oral history says that the Stó:lō have occupied our world since time immemorial. Visitors to the Hope Museum can read about the Stó:lō village of Ts'qo:ls, which sat where the District of Hope is located today. It was an important hub for transportation and trade, with a large population numbering thousands of people. Our collection of artifacts also includes a traditional Stó:lō dip net, used for fishing in the Fraser River. It also includes traditional woven baskets, jewelry, and tools. One of the highlights is a buckskin jacket once owned by Mrs. Starret, a Stó:lō princess.
  • Welquámex Island

    Welquámex Island is an island located west of Hope in the Fraser River. This exhibit details the Stó:lō village that was once located on the island, which had a population of 250-300. Ongoing archaeological explorations on the island have revealed substantial residential architecture and even defensive fortifications on the island, providing important insights into the organization of Stó:lō settlements at the time of European contact. The island's inhabitants spoke Halq'eméylem, the upriver dialect in the Coast Salish family of languages. Thanks to the work of Stó:lō elders at the Colqualeetza Cultural Center and linguist Brent Galloway a written form of Halq'eméylem has been established, providing additional insights into life at Welquámex. While the island was never inhabited by Europeans, there is evidence that Simon Fraser stopped at Welquámex during his famous voyage of the Fraser River.
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