2017 Report

Report for the Fiscal Year 2017

The year 2017 marked Canada’s 150th birthday and was celebrated throughout the country. The Cortes Island Museum & Archives Society (CIMAS) received two Canada 150 grants provided as part of this celebration. The first, a federal Canada 150 grant was titled hɛkʷ čɛ θ tuwa? // Where Do You Come From? With the support of the Klahoose First Nation, the community explored our past through the lens of reconciliation. The second provincial Canada 150/BC Museums Association grant provided the funding to create a new natural history satellite exhibit Wild Cortes opening in 2018. A BC Arts Council’s Operating Assistance grant provided free Curatorial Practices Training to islanders interested in learning new skills and funded the new major exhibition Refuge Cove: Moving with the Tide.

Over 3320 visitors signed the CIMAS guest book and provided great feedback on the new exhibit.


These programs include Museum Exhibits, the Heritage Garden, the 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 own history with donations of artifacts and archival materials.


The new Refuge Cove: Moving with the Tide exhibit was curated by Judith Williams with help from the students in her Curatorial Practices Training course from last winter and spring. It totally changed the Doreen Thompson Exhibit Gallery with many of Judith’s colourful paintings of the cove, painted during the years she lived there. A series of interviews with cove locals playing on a monitor encouraged visitors to sit awhile and soak up some history. 

Long-planned work began in earnest during spring 2017 on the new satellite natural history exhibit Wild Cortes at Linnaea Farm Education Centre in partnership with many ecological organizations and biologists. The main exhibit is the Museum’s refurbished Wild Cortes―Woods, Wetlands & Waters with many new taxidermy additions by Laurel Bohart and interesting exhibits created by our partners.

Artifact Committee

Some wonderful items were received for consideration this year. It’s the role of the committee to decide if an item should be added to our collection or returned to the donor. We take into consideration the item’s provenance, condition and relationship to Cortes Island. A lovely donation this winter was a quilt made some years ago on Cortes and raffled to raise funds for the Cortes Health Centre. Our thanks go to Jane Rankin who now lives off island but wanted the quilt, and the work of the people who made it, preserved here on Cortes. A perfect example of great provenance and a fine addition to our collection!

Heritage Garden

A new outdoor interpretive panel was designed and installed showing images and text about the three heritage apple trees that are an important feature of the west end of the garden. Visitors enjoyed time at the blue picnic table under the dappled shade of the apple trees. A new traditionally styled wooden bench was introduced to the garden to provide seating adjacent to the memorial circle plantings of lavender.

For the first time, two Heritage Garden blogs were presented on the Museum website to coincide with the early and late summer seasons and provide historical context and cultivation information for selected plants. Garden soil improvement and mulching activities were ongoing to encourage plant health and weed control materials were installed along the front fence. Some new plantings were introduced to the garden, including drought-resistant heritage perennials and shrubs.

Community Outreach

History & Historical Driving Tour Booklets

All 4 history booklets sold well last year along with the popular Historical Self-Driving Tour booklet. An expanded section about schools from the Squirrel Cove booklet was accepted for publication in the BC Historical Federation’s British Columbia History magazine to appear in the spring 2018 edition.

Walks & Talks Program

An important aspect of the CIMAS Public Education Program. We sponsor speakers and events on interesting topics and take Cortes Island history out into the community. During this year we hosted the following interesting events:

  • Spring and Christmas Bird Counts
  • Russia–Mongolia–China Train Tour presentation by Bruce Ellingsen and Stephanie Asbeck
  • The Nootka Crisis, by Catherine Gilbert
  • Mary Weiler’s Cortes by Brig Weiler
  • Yorke Island, by author Catherine Gilbert
  • Gumbooting in Manson’s Lagoon, 11 tours
  • Cortes Island, 6 tours
  • hɛkʷ čɛ θ tuwa? // Where Do You Come From? Canada 150 project, 2 guided walks
  • Misty Isles Adventures cruises and kayaking, 9 trips with 3 being overnighters
  • Curatorial Practices Training Course by Judith Williams, free

Assistant Programmer

Through funding from BC Arts Council the Assistant Programmer provided:

  • Teen Szene Zine Night at Museum where teens used the archives and created a collaged mini-art magazine from images and words they found
  • Refuge Cove exhibit support for the new media component with video interviews
  • Magnetic signs created to promote Museum on the Cortes Island Business and Tourism’s mobile office and the ferries
  • Vintage Vignettes – researched and wrote scripts based on archival stories in partnership with CKTZ Radio who produced them into short radio pieces
  • Expanded our partnership with Deep Roots radio project, providing funding and material to assist production of 10 short radio documentaries based on Klahoose stories and culture
  • Worked with 2 committees to guide a branding process (brand style guide, new logo, etc.)
  • hɛkʷ čɛ θ tuwa? // Where Do You Come From? Canada 150 project – worked closely with Klahoose Elder and CIMAS Board member Rose Hanson and other Klahoose members delivering a wide range of programming throughout summer/fall/winter (Community Quilt, Intergenerational media workshops, Blanket Exercise/Songwriting workshop, etc.)

Community Events

CIMAS hosted or co-hosted at the following community events:

  • Chap Book Launch of writings by youth
  • Refuge Cove Exhibit Opening
  • Refuge Cove Volunteer Celebration
  • hɛkʷ čɛ θ tuwa? // Where Do You Come From? Canada 150 project – craft days, quilt making, youth & elders filmmaking, creative writing
  • Literary Afternoons, 4
  • Zine-making Workshop with Teen Szene

School Program

Early in 2017, Andy Ellingsen met the senior class (Grades 6/7/8) to look at the Big Tree Exhibit and talked about early logging, tree growth and tree height measurement. The students used the isosceles triangle method with paper triangles (as seen in the exhibit) and measured the height of trees near the Museum. In March, all three public school classes visited the Cortes Museum. Shirley Beaulieu offered a storytelling session to each of the younger classes (kindergarten, grades 1/2 and grades 4/5), using the Pioneer Kitchen artifacts and sharing her memories of childhood and life on Cortes during the 1930s to 1950s. Monica Nawrocki was the Museum host and helped direct questions from the students. The primary class paid a visit in October to the Museum’s garden in search of fall leaf collections.

In the spring two French Immersion school classes from Campbell River included the Museum as one of their field trip activities.

Misty Isles Adventures Cruises

Mike Moore of Misty Isles Adventures offered some great tours in the summer of 2017. Besides the usual day trips there were two cruises that overnighted on Twin Islands (thanks to owner Mark Torrance) in combination with Mitlenatch Island; Lund & Refuge Cove with historian Jeanette Taylor; and also a three-day kayaking excursion based from Twin Islands. A new overnight dining cruise enjoyed by 12 guests went north to Blind Channel. Sponsorship of these cruises is one of our main fundraisers, gaining $3,206 this year. Thank you, Mike, for this continuing partnership.

Tourist/Visitor Information Booth

Visitors to the island come to the Museum seeking information about where to camp, hike, swim, find a place to stay or to obtain a map. Tara Warkentin, the 2017 summer student host, amiably imparted valuable information directing visitors. CIMAS maintains the following tourist information:

  • Local brochures and maps on the Museum porch available always
  • Summer host attendant with detailed information and maps during Museum open hours
  • Brochure rack on Cortes ferry
  • Magnetic posters advertising the Museum and the Tourist Booth, 2 on the Cortes ferry and 2 on the Cortes Island Business and Tourism’s mobile office.
  • Information about lodges, B&Bs, camping and other available places to stay
  • Maps with hiking, swimming and parks information
  • Fishing and shellfish regulations, licencing, collecting shellfish, closures and tides
  • CIMAS presence on websites: Destination BC, Hello BC, Tideline and VI Vacation Rentals

The Museum also provides current statistics and information for the annual production of the Cortes Island Brochure and the Discovery Islands tourist magazine, along with distribution to the stores and ferry of both these guides.

Teachers from off-island planning class visits to Cortes contact the Museum for help in planning their touring and overnight stays.

The daily tides schedule is posted in the booth along with pertinent fishing and red tide closures as they are received from Fisheries & Oceans.

The Historical Self-Driving Tour booklet with archival photos of places on Cortes is also available for sale at the Museum.


In 2017 the Archives received nine donations, including major accruals to our Whaletown Community Club records, a large group of photographs of WCC events and more additions to our May and Elmer Ellingsen fonds. We made progress on our backlog, processing 800 colour slides from the Gilean Douglas and Weiler family fonds. We updated our Inmagic database to the latest version and added more than 800 new descriptions to it. We have applied for a grant from Library & Archives Canada which, if successful, will enable us to process our entire backlog next year.

Local oral histories from our Archives continue to be aired as Vintage Vignettes on CKTZ radio in collaboration with Cortes Radio. (Listen for the steamboat whistle that announces these vignettes on CKTZ 89.5 FM.)


CIMAS Branding Development

Facilitated by the Assistant Programmer Brittany Baxter, CIMAS created a brand style guide and worked toward creating a new logo which will be finalized in 2018. In addition, a writing style guideline was developed by Gina Trzesicka and Erika Grundmann to assist CIMAS in maintaining consistency on the website and in all our communications and publications.


The website continues to be updated and improved. In 2017 the following was completed:

  • Blog section – 10 blogs last year. Contributing bloggers: Mike Manson, Donna McLaren, Tara Warkentin, Christian Gronau, George Sirk and Lynne Jordan
  • Improved blog module installed by Ester Strijbos
  • Online Exhibit section: new online exhibit Our Website Banners


The following grants were gratefully received:

  • Human Resources & Skills Development Canada
  • Heritage Canada – Canada 150 for hɛkʷ čɛ θ tuwa? // Where Do You Come From?
  • BC Community Gaming Grant
  • BC Arts Council Operating Assistance Grant
  • BC Museums Association/Canada 150 for Wild Cortes satellite exhibit
  • Strathcona Regional District

Additional fundraising activities included:

  • Misty Isles Adventures cruises, Pacific Yellowfin charter tours
  • Manson’s Lagoon Gumboot Tours
  • Guest speakers
  • Donations and memberships
  • In memoriam and estate bequests
  • Museum shop sales
  • Sales of CIMAS history booklets in local venues and the Campbell River Museum
  • Donation jars at local markets and community events

2017 Board of Directors

  • Lynne Jordan – President
  • Nancy Kendel – Vice President
  • Debbie Dragseth – Treasurer
  • Connie Brill – Secretary

Members at Large: Bonnie MacDonald, Ian Disney, Donna McLaren, Jill Milton, 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)

Three part-time employees helped to keep us open year round: Tara Warkentin (our homegrown summer student); Brittany Baxter (programmer, with support from BC Arts Council); and Gina Trzesicka (office/website assistant).

The Board of Directors reviewed, updated and created the five-year Strategic Plan 2017 – 2021. This plan assists CIMAS in identifying the direction and values of our society and integrating new ideas and opportunities as they emerge over the next five years.


Memberships in the Society are promoted at the AGM and throughout the year at the Museum. They are also collected at the Friday Markets and other community events. The membership in 2017 was 265 (about 27% of the Cortes population). Newsletters have membership forms attached when they are mailed or emailed 3 or 4 times a year 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 107 volunteers donated an amazing 4589 hours of time to the CIMAS administration, programs and building maintenance. For sharing your passion and volunteering your valuable time: thank you, thank you, thank you!


CIMAS Staffing

  • Hire a permanent part-time Director/Curator through BC Arts Operating Assistance Grant
  • Expand the current Assistant Programmer position to a permanent part-time Director of Programming position through a 2 year BC Arts Enhanced Capacity Grant
  • Find and apply for funding to continue Director of Programming position in 2020


  • Continuance of Refuge Cove: Moving with the Tide
  • Official opening of the new satellite exhibit Wild Cortes at Linnaea Education Centre
  • Refresh the descriptive labels in the von Donop Logging Shed exhibit
  • Create a teaser exhibit for 2018 on Cabinets of Curiosity to house in our workroom
  • Create a new exhibit to celebrate the 25th anniversary of CIMAS

Artifact Collection Committee

  • Continue cataloguing backlog of artifacts
  • Revitalize the Von Donop Logging Shed exhibit

Heritage Garden

  • Prepare two Heritage Garden blogs for Museum website
  • Prepare an article for publication using text and photos from blogs posted
  • Offer a tour of the Heritage Garden twice a month for interested visitors
  • Contribute photos of garden plants to the Heritage Garden online album linked to the CIMAS Facebook page
  • Continue measures to improve soil and plant health
  • Produce and install new plant labels as required

Community Outreach

  • Host Spring Migration Birding walk (May 2018) and Christmas Bird Count (Dec. 2018)
  • Host Literary Afternoons featuring local writers, poets and musicians
  • Host guest speakers and island walks and tours throughout the year
  • Host book launches for local authors
  • Maintain presence with mini-exhibits at community events and market days
  • Hold a Christmas event
  • Open satellite exhibit Wild Cortes at Linnaea Education Centre
  • Create more local partnerships wherever possible
  • Host Art in the Garden events during July and August

Assistant Programmer

  • Work with the CIMAS Board to integrate the new funding for the expanded Programmer position
  • Complete work on hɛkʷ čɛ θ tuwa? // Where Do You Come From? project, including touring the community quilts around the island
  • Create a mini-exhibit for the Co-op Cafe Gallery
  • Support the launch of the new Wild Cortes exhibit
  • Facilitate CIMAS archives and exhibits reaching wider audiences
  • Deepen CIMAS engagement in the community and with our partners
  • Continue to develop new, enriching and relevant programming for our island

Tourist/Visitor Information Booth

  • Maintain summer opening hours of six days a week
  • Maintain fall/winter/spring opening hours of two afternoons a week
  • Continue updating album of comprehensive tourist information
  • Continue providing 24/7 tourist information on the covered porch
  • Make sure our magnetic signs get transferred to the interim ferry when Tachek goes for annual refit in June

School Program

  • Liaise with schools in developing interesting educational programs and visits to the Museum and the new natural history satellite exhibit, Wild Cortes
  • Encourage more presentations by Cortes seniors/elders for students and youth
  • Continue taxidermy demonstrations
  • Continue helping off-island teachers plan class field trips to Cortes and the Museum

Archives Program                          

  • Continue processing the Archives backlog of papers, possibly with a funding grant from Library & Archives Canada
  • Continue providing archival stories for creating more Vintage Vignettes for CKTZ Radio


Creative Spaces Tour, Saturday in June 2018

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

Museum Shop

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

Misty Isles Adventure Cruises

More exciting cruises in local waters are planned for 2018:

  • May 20 – Sails & Whales! – NEW CRUISE
  • June 9 – Mitlenatch Island
  • June 17 – Laughing Oyster Father’s Day Cruise to Okeover Inlet
  • July 13 – Low Tide Reef Exploration
  • July 19 – Cassel Lake & Waterfall in Teakerne Arm
  • July 31 – ‘Round Maurelle Island
  • August 4 and Aug. 17 – Desolation Sound
  • August 9 – Cortes & Marina Island Seafood Tour – NEW ADVENTURE!
  • September 2/3 – Blind Channel Dining & overnight at Blind Channel Resort

Building Projects

  • Permanently plumb in the dehumidifier in Archives storage room

Website & Social Media

  • Continue adding content to our website
  • Increase social media presence

Web Design by Ester Strijbos