Report for the Fiscal Year 2016

This was another busy and exciting year.  With financial support from the BC Arts Council, CIMAS hired a Programmer and provided a free Curatorial Principles Training course to interested islanders.  An active Community Outreach program, fundraising events, historical tours and increases to the Archival holdings kept many volunteers busy.  Two major exhibits opened at the beginning of the summer.  Visitors who signed our guestbook totalled 4538 — 35% increase from last year.


These programs include Museum Exhibits, Heritage Garden, School Programs and Community Outreach events.  Activities are developed to educate and involve the general public, including Cortes residents, First Nations groups, children, seniors, students and tourists.  Cortes history is highlighted along with that of nearby islands and inlets.  The Museum encourages residents and organizations to preserve their histories through donations of artifacts and archival materials.


The mounting of The Fir, The Fallers, The Fungus: The Story of the Big Tree was in response to requests from the Cortes community to present a major exhibition featuring an iconic old growth fir tree and an important landmark, which came down in 2015.  The story of the tree, featuring the fallers who preserved it, explored the importance of old growth forests to First Nations and the environment.  Artifacts from our permanent collection of early logging equipment augmented the display.  The exhibit also included information about the interaction between the Agarikon fungus and old-growth Douglas fir.  As part of the presentation, work from The Last Stand by Cortes artist/photographer David Ellingsen was featured.  Noted mycologist Paul Stamets presented The Search for Agarikon: Modern Medicine from Ancient Times.

In conjunction with the above exhibition, a six-foot cross section of the old growth Douglas fir trunk and a cedar stump with spring board notches were permanently installed in the Museum grounds.  Although these two large pieces presented a number of challenges to move and install, they provided an opportunity to augment the outdoor logging exhibit.

Artifact Committee

The committee volunteers spent a sunny day sorting and tidying the Von Donop Logging Shed, ably assisted by Monica Nawrocki and Gordy Cormack.  Logging items from the collection were provided to augment the Big Tree exhibit, including felling axes donated by Gordie Irwin, a two-man chainsaw donated by Ian Disney, an Ellingsen jack, Ken Hansen’s tree climbing equipment, and various other logging implements.  Artists Susan Schelle and Mark Gomes spearheaded the installation of all the tools found in the “Fallers” portion of the Big Tree exhibit.

Heritage Garden

The garden now has a colourful new Interpretive Panel describing its history and features.  Garden development in 2016 included planting additional heritage perennials and shrubs.  The Heritage Garden was featured in the annual Creative Spaces – Gardens & Studios tour in June.

Curatorial Principles Training

With a grant to CIMAS from the B.C. Arts Council, Judith Williams spent the winter providing classes, demonstrations and field trips.  With the help of Holger Schramm, model-making workshops were provided to give volunteers hands-on experience in the art of curatorial practice.  Several committed new interns are currently working with Judith to develop and produce a major new exhibition with the working title: Refuge Cove: Moving with the Tide.

Programmer Position

As part of the BC Arts Council’s Operating Assistance grant, CIMAS hired a part-time Programmer in June.  Brittany Baxter was welcomed by the CIMAS community and easily transitioned into the job, enjoying the unique and diverse history of the island.  In this role, Brittany supported on-going programming and activities at the Museum, as well as creating new opportunities for partnerships and engagement within the Cortes community.  Brittany brings her skills as a designer to support the Museum’s outreach, communication, and marketing processes.  Her skills as a video producer assisted in the recording of Museum events and expanding the Archives collection of interviews with local residents.

Programming Highlights included:

  • Supporting the launch of The Big Tree exhibit (posters, event video, pop-up exhibit)
  • Launching of a new on-going series, Vintage Vignettes, in partnership with Cortes Radio
  • Submitting a Canada 150 Grant proposal working closely with CIMAS Board Member Rose Hanson and other Klahoose community members
  • Filming events and interviews with prominent community members for the Archives, including Dennis Newsham, Paul Stamets, Norm Gibbons, and Gunnar & Emilie Hansen
  • Developing on-going partnerships with Teen Szene and Cortes Literacy Now to develop artistic literacy based youth-driven projects (Zines, animation projects)

Community Outreach

History Booklets

A new booklet, Historical Self-driving Tour of Cortes Island, was produced this year.  It proved a popular item for sale in the CIMAS Gift Shop.

Walks & Talks Program

This Program hosts speakers and events on interesting topics and takes island history into the community.  These well attended events raised donations of $2852. Featured events were:

  • Storytelling Evening with Jeanette Taylor & Annette Yourk
  • Seniors’ Tea with archival readings
  • A Thing for Islands presentation with Alison Watt
  • Spring Birding and 2 Christmas Bird Counts (Jan. for 2015 count & Dec. for 2016)
  • Real Thing – Briony Penn’s book launch
  • Gumbooting in the Lagoon with Lynne Jordan (4 of 6 co-sponsored by FOCI)
  • Interpreted Island tours
  • Reel Youth Film Festival co-sponsored by CIMAS
  • Full Moon Lagoon – Monica Nawrocki’s book launch
  • Sea Without Shores” — Norm Gibbons’ book launch
  • Search for Agarikon: Modern Medicine from Ancient Times – Paul Stamets
  • 2 Literary Afternoons through the year
  • Square Sails & Penguins presentation by Hubert Havelaar

Community Events

CIMAS hosted exhibit tables at the following community events:

  • International Women’s Day
  • Seafood Festival
  • Cortes Day
  • Nautical Swap Meet, co-sponsored with Cortes Harbour Authority
  • Harvest Festival
  • Friday Summer Markets
  • Manson’s Hall Christmas Craft Fair

The Museum also hosted meetings for Literacy Now and Memoir Writers.

School/Youth Program

Lead by Christine Robinson, CIMAS sponsored the following:

  • 2 Christmas Bird Counts for youth in partnership with the Children’s Forest Trust
  • The Cortes School K/1/2 class visited the 2016 exhibits
  • The grades 3/4/5 class visited the Museum in June to listen to Dennis Newsham spin exciting tales of cougars and wolves
  • Grades 3/4/5 students also examined the Big Tree ‘cookie’, and entered their age guesses in the Museum’s contest

Lead by Rex Weyler, homeschooled students spent 7 afternoons researching for reports by:

  • Examining historical photos and records using archival information
  • Listening to Shirley Beaulieu who shared memories of early USS Boat Days
  • Exploring themes of early roads and transportation, logging, Klahoose First Nation, homesteads in Carrington Bay/Lagoon area and early wolf/ranching conflicts

Misty Isles Cruises

Three exciting new trips were introduced this year when Mark Torrance opened his amazing lodge on Twin Islands to guests for overnight visits.  Each of these overnight trips included walking tours of the forests, gardens, orchards and extensive off-grid systems on Twin Islands.

CIMAS sponsored the following 8 Misty Isles cruises to:

  • Mitlenatch Island
  • Mitlenatch Island & overnight on Twin Islands
  • Laughing Oyster Fathers’ Day Cruise to Okeover Inlet
  • 2 cruises to Desolation Sound
  • ‘Round Maurelle Island through tidal rapids
  • 2 cruises to Cassel Lake in Teakerne Arm & overnight on Twin Islands.

Museum profits from the 8 cruises amounted to $2231.

Tourist/Visitor Information Booth

Visitors to the island come to the Museum seeking information about where to camp, hike, swim, find accommodations or obtain maps.  Thea Block, the 2016 summer student host, graciously imparted valuable information directing visitors.  CIMAS maintains the following tourist information:

  • Local brochures and maps on Museum porch available 24 hours
  • Summer host attendant with detailed information & maps during Museum open hours
  • Brochure rack on Cortes ferry
  • Information about lodges, B&Bs and other available places to stay
  • CIMAS presence on websites: Destination BC, Hello BC, Tideline & VI Vacation Rentals
  • Supply & distribute the Cortes Island Brochure and Discovery Islands Tourist Magazine
  • Daily tides schedule with pertinent fishing and red tide closures from Fisheries Canada.


The Archives Committee in 2016 finished the following:

  • Arranging, describing and properly storing May and Elmer Ellingsen’s substantial collection of papers, photographs, audio tapes and ephemera
  • Processing the Weiler family fonds, containing 400 photographs and slides of Cortes from 1950 to 1980
  • Digitizing in an accessible and stable electronic format the collection of aging audio cassette tapes through a $1000 grant from the Friends of the BC Archives
  • Installing the latest version of the InMagic database program, with up-dated inventories of archival holdings on a new public access computer
  • Providing additional training for 2 committee members in managing archives and describing collections through a workshop given by the Archives Association of BC
  • Providing assistance and information to researchers on Cortes or family history

The newly digitized oral histories are now ready for use in the CIMAS on-going collaboration with Cortes Radio for a series of local history radio spots, Vintage Vignettes.  (Listen for the steamboat whistle that announces these vignettes on CKTZ 89.5 FM.)


Website (

Gina Trzesicka continued to maintain and improve the CIMAS website.  Efforts were made to solicit new bloggers and topics for the site.  The Board made it a priority to increase the CIMAS social media presence.  Visitors to the website are steadily increasing.


The following grants were gratefully received:

  • Community Gaming Grant – $15,000
  • BC Arts Council Operating Assistance Grant – $10,000
  • Human Resources Skills Development Canada – $4645
  • Strathcona Regional District – $2000
  • Friends of BC Archives (Terry Reksten Memorial Fund) – $1000

Additional fundraising activities included:

  • Creative Spaces – Gardens, Studios & Workshops
  • Misty Isles Cruises, Pacific Yellowfin Charter tours
  • Manson’s Lagoon Gumboot Tours
  • Walks & Talks
  • Donations and memberships
  • In memorium & estate bequests
  • Museum Gift Shop sales
  • History Booklet sales at outside venues

2016 Board of Directors

Lynne Jordan – President
Nancy Kendel – Vice President
Debbie Dragseth – Treasurer
Connie Brill – Minutes Recorder

Members at Large: Bonnie MacDonald,  Ian Disney, Donna McLaren, Jill Milton, Laurel Bohart, Lynn Marttila, Erika Grundmann, Donna Manson and Rose Hanson

The following volunteers provided essential support to the Board:

  • Christine Robinson (School Liaison)
  • Carol London (accounting support)
  • Peter Henbury (computer support)

Two part-time employees helped to keep us open year round:  Thea Block (our home grown summer student), and Gina Trzesicka (host/office/website assistant extraordinaire).

The five year Strategic Plan and detailed Work Plan were revisited and are being updated.


Society memberships are promoted at the AGM and throughout the year at the Museum.  They are also collected at Friday Markets and other community events.  Memberships in 2016 increased from 280 to 325 (31% of the population of the island).  Newsletters mailed out 3 or 4 times a year have membership forms attached to encourage participation.


Without the efforts of volunteers, this island community would be a very different place … and the Cortes Museum would not be in existence.  Our dedicated and committed volunteers keep the Museum a vibrant focal point of the Cortes community.  A total of 104 volunteers donated an amazing 5493 hours of time to the CIMAS administration, programs, garden, and building maintenance. Thank you for sharing your passion and time:  thank you, thank you, thank you!

 “Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless!” – Sherry Anderson



  • Refuge Cove History Exhibit curated by Judith Williams and Curatorial Interns
  • Refresh the Von Donop Logging Shed Exhibit
  • Continue curatorial training & part-time programmer position under BC Arts Council Operating Assistance Grant
  • Create more Vintage Vignettes in partnership with CKTZ Radio

Artifact Collection Committee

  • Continue working on backlog of artifacts
  • Finish reorganization and labeling of artifacts in the Von Donop Logging Shed exhibit

Heritage Garden  

  • Update 2012 garden brochure revising drawings to reflect changes in the garden
  • Make new brochure available online as well as to garden visitors
  • Produce plant labels for new plantings
  • Create & install an interpretive sign about the 3 large heritage apple trees
  • Provide blogs about the Heritage Garden for CIMAS website during garden season

Programmer Position

  • Further develop on-going projects and partnerships
  • Build new connections with the Cortes community
  • Support the launch of the Refuge Cove and the Wild Cortes exhibits
  • Work with Board to develop a new brand identity for CIMAS
  • Work on digitizing and recording new material for the Archives

Community Outreach

  • Host Spring Migration Birding (May 6, 2017) and Christmas Bird Count (Dec.17, 2017)
  • Partner with CISS “Literary Afternoons” featuring local writers, poets and musicians
  • Host guest speakers and island walks throughout the year
  • Host book launches for local authors
  • Maintain presence with mini-exhibits at community events & market days
  • Open satellite exhibit Wild Cortes at Linnaea Education Centre if funding in place

Tourist/Visitor Information Booth

  • Maintain summer opening hours of six days a week until September 16, 2017
  • Maintain fall/winter/spring opening hours of two afternoons a week
  • Continue providing 24-hour tourist information on covered porch

School Program

  • Liaise with schools in developing interesting educational programs and visits to Museum
  • Continue taxidermy demonstrations
  • Offer assistance to off-island teachers planning class visits to Cortes & the Museum

Archives Program

  • Continue processing the Archives backlog
  • Search & apply for digitization grants


Creative Spaces Tour, Saturday, June 24, 2017

  • Find volunteer coordinator, gardens, artists, and workshops for tour

Museum Shop

  • Increase sales through inclusion of materials produced by CIMAS on website
  • Encourage artists to place locally crafted, juried items to sell in Museum Gift Shop
  • Increase stock of books for sale, including children’s books & local authors

Misty Isles Cruises

More exciting overnight cruises are planned for 2017:

  • May 13/14 – Mitlenatch & Twin Islands for Mothers’ Day– overnight on Twin Islands
  • June 10 – Mitlenatch Island
  • June 18 – Laughing Oyster Fathers’ Day Cruise to Okeover Inlet
  • July 13/14/15 – Twin Islands Kayaking – 2 nights, 3 days kayaking
  • July 20/21 – Lund, Refuge Cove & Twin Is. (overnight) with Jeanette Taylor – NEW!
  • July 26 – ‘Round Maurelle Island
  • Aug. 5 and Aug. 22– Desolation Sound
  • Aug 28/29 – Blind Channel Dining & overnight (NEW THIS YEAR!) 

Building Projects

  • Permanently plumb in dehumidifier in Archives storage room


  • Continue adding content to website
  • Encourage submissions of interesting new blogs for the website
  • Continue to increase social media presence

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