Nanaimo Historical Society president Darrell Ohs and his group are the recipients of the City of Nanaimo’s new Honour in Heritage award. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Nanaimo Historical Society receiving city’s new Honour in Heritage award

Group was responsible for starting Nanaimo Museum and Community Archives

This is the last in a series of articles highlighting this year’s recipients of the City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Awards.

When Darrell Ohs became president of the Nanaimo Historical Society the organization was almost history itself.

“A lot of people thought we were doomed six years ago…” he said. “Enthusiasm was down, morale was down, membership was aging.”

It was around that time that other local historical groups like the Nanaimo Community Heritage Commission and the Nanaimo branch of the Archaeological Society of B.C. were folding, but Ohs and NHS secretary Gordon Miller “kept the throttle forward and the stick back” and, aided by the influx of members from those defunct groups, the NHS pulled through.

NHS executive member Christine Meutzner, also a 20-year member of the heritage commission and manager of the Nanaimo Community Archives, described it as a “dogged” effort.

“There was just the two of you and you just kept going and we kept on saying, ‘Oh, for God’s sakes, give it up,’ but they just kept on going,” she said.

On April 18 the NHS will receive the City of Nanaimo’s new Honour in Heritage award, which recognizes “individuals, groups and corporations who demonstrate outstanding support, advocacy, promotion or interpretation of Nanaimo’s heritage and history,” according to a city press release. Ohs said the honour is well deserved.

Moved by its lasting presence and impact, Meutzner nominated the NHS for the award on behalf of the archives.

“They survived for 66 years and they’re actually, I think, growing now. I have seen a turnaround,” she said. “So I thought they should get some kind of recognition just for sheer longevity and sort of stick-with-it-ness and also the fact that they have in fact contributed in very concrete ways.”

Since its founding in 1953, the NHS has spearheaded numerous initiatives aimed at preserving historical sites and promoting knowledge of local history.

Meutzner said the organization has had to adapt over time to stay relevant.

“In the ’70s they started bringing in First Nations speakers … they started bringing in more women to talk about their experience,” she said. “So they’ve had to reflect the bigger society as we go on. We couldn’t get away with doing only transportation history. We couldn’t just do coal.”

Meutzner said that among its “legacy” projects are the establishment of the Nanaimo Museum and Community Archives, as well as its monthly meetings and speakers series.

“Now at the end of each meeting almost invariably somebody joins, I have noticed, and that wasn’t true for a long time,” Meutzner said. “And the demographic’s a lot younger. In our mind anybody under 40 is like, ‘Oh my God, what a whippersnapper.’”

WHAT’S ON … City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Awards ceremony takes place at the Port Theatre on Thursday, April 18. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show starts at 7. Tickets are free but must be reserved.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Departure Bay Eco-School students calling for old cellphones

Grade 7 students at Nanaimo school taking part in Recycle My Cell Earth Month Challenge

RDN to share cost of Parksville’s goose harvest

City asked regional district to pay one-third of $35K expense

Woman who was chased and tackled by break-and-enter victim sentenced in Nanaimo court

Natasha Geraldine Harris, 28, was sentenced to time served and will be released from jail

Health minister talks opioid crisis in campaign stop in Nanaimo

Support of cabinet ministers ‘incredible’ experience, says Liberal candidate

First Nanaimo-Ladysmith all-candidates’ meeting is tomorrow

Six candidates expected to debate issues Thursday, April 25, at the Beban Park social centre

VIDEO: Driver in bizarre hit-and-run at B.C. car dealership turns herself in

Police believe alcohol was a factor in incident causing estimated $15,000 in damages

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

B.C. woman, 76, challenges alcohol-screening laws after failing to give breath sample

Norma McLeod was unable to provide a sample because of her medical conditions

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with B.C. First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

B.C. youth coach banned amid sexual harassment, bullying scandal: Water Polo Canada

Justin Mitchell can’t take part in Water Polo Canada events or clubs

Wilson-Raybould: Feds want to just ‘manage the problem’ of Indigenous Peoples

Former federal justice minister speaks at First Nations Justice Council meeting in B.C.

Nanaimo Astronomy Society already anticipating next moon mission

Society’s next meeting is on Thursday, April 25, at Beban Park social centre

Historian happily surprised about Morden Mine funding

What took so long for support for restoration work, asks columnist

Upgrades planned for Gabriola ferry terminal

Plans call for new loading ramp, creation of a vehicle holding area and new terminal building

Most Read