“The mission of the Qualicum Beach Historical and Museum Society is to acquire, preserve and present the social and natural history of the Qualicum Beach area in a manner in which the whole community will be interested, supportive, and proud.”
The QBH & MS was started through a grassroots movement in 1982, sparked by an initiative of Elizabeth Little (daughter of original pioneers) in an attempt to recognize the 100th a anniversary of the granting of the first land title to Thomas Kinkade in 1884. The Society was then incorporated in 1984.
In search of a “fireproof” building to accommodate the group, the Township purchased a half acre piece of land from BC Hydro in 1985 on which stood the original brick and steel Power House. This building, built in 1929 had housed the two British diesel engines which produced electricity for the Town and surrounding area until it went on grid in 1935. The “Power House” building, possibly the last of the early style power house buildings, was restored and designated as a heritage building. This allowed the Society to start receiving artifacts. A Vivian Diesel Engine, similar to the one that served as the back-up generator in the power house, was purchased from a BC Hydro facility located at Daisy Lake near Squamish and was restored by members of the Society. It is displayed within the Power house and being fully operational, is fired up occasionally in the summer months.
Artifacts collected from and donated by the community grew and needing more space, in 1984, the Society purchased a similar two storey 1930 BC Hydro building, located in Port Alberni. Volunteers dismantled it brick by brick, and reconstructed it in Qualicum Beach adjacent to the original “Power House.” This building, known as the McIntosh Building was opened as the Museum in 1994. That same year, Graham Beard, a noted local fossil collector and President of the Vancouver Island Palaeontology Society displayed part of his extensive personal collection in the Museum. Currently the main floor is dedicated to the Palaeontology Exhibit while the Social History displays occupy the second floor.
Lacking appropriate space for archives, workshops and storage, in 2001 the Annex was built by community volunteers with donated materials and now houses Accessioning and Archives as well as storage for many of the artifacts that cannot be displayed due to space limitations.
The planning and labour to establish the Museum land and present buildings has been accomplished through the hard work of its dedicated founders and subsequent members who have given thousands of volunteer hours to accomplish their collective vision.
This vision involved other historical buildings in the community that would have been lost, but have been lovingly restored and now stand as touchstones to the past.