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Museum meanders down memory lane

Exhibit explores Christmas in Nanaimo during the 1950s.
This photo shows the intersection of Commercial Street and the old Island Highway in 1956. The Ashlar Lodge Masonic Temple building can be seen on the far left

Residents of the Harbour City have the opportunity to experience what Christmas was like back in the 1950s.

Currently on display at the Nanaimo Museum is 1950s Christmas, an exhibit that looks at pop culture and Christmas traditions of that era.

“We try to do a really fun exhibit in December,” said Aimee Greenaway, museum interpretation curator. “The exhibit is nostalgic. It’s a combination of 1950s pop culture and memorabilia.”

1950s Christmas features a wide variety of popular items such as clothing, toys, Christmas decorations and photos of what Nanaimo looked like.

There is also a Maggie Muggins doll and book, which is one of Greenaway’s favourite pieces in the exhibit.

“I am not really a doll person ... but I thought that was pretty cool. The person who owns her [Maggie Muggins] also owns the book and has had it since childhood.”

The majority of the pieces in the exhibit were loaned by members of the public.

Nanaimo museum interpretation curator, Aimee Greenaway.

Greenaway explained that the museum doesn’t keep general artifacts unless there is a specific Nanaimo connection, and that the museum depends on donations from the public.


“It is amazing for us to go to the community and bring in artifacts because a lot of the artifacts fit in really well with this exhibit, but they don’t fit in with the museum’s mandate,” Greenaway said. “They’re a great piece of memorabilia, but they don’t have a Nanaimo history associated with them, so it is not something we would have in our collection.”

Items that the museum receives from the public are returned to their owners after the exhibit is over.

Greenaway said the 1950s Christmas exhibit wouldn’t even be possible without the community.

“It’s great that the public allows us to borrow artifacts so that we can make these exhibits,” Greenaway said “It’s a community exhibit. We’ve seen lots of family members who have loaned us their pieces, come by the museum and check out the exhibit.”

1950s Christmas runs until Jan. 5 at the Nanaimo Museum, 100 Museum Way. Admission to the exhibit is by donation. For more information, please call 250-753-1821 or visit

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