Jane Hutton

Jane Hutton

More than old bones at local museum

While the curator of the Port Hardy Museum & Archives warns there’s only about a month left to see the fossils exhibit, she wants folks to know there’s much more to see at the museum.

While the curator of the Port Hardy Museum & Archives warns there’s only about two months left to see the fossils exhibit, she wants folks to know there’s much more to see at the museum.

Jane Hutton, who’s actually the curator and director of the museum, said there’s plenty to see at the 7110 Market St. fixture that will turn 30-years-old in August.

“We preserve the heritage of the North Island, so we have artifacts related to First Nations settlements — we actually have artifacts here that were found at Bear Cove that are up to 8,000 years old,” she said.

“That is the oldest known inhabited site on Vancouver Island.”

The bones and tools contained in the collection is the showpiece of the museum and are on permanent display.

The temporary exhibit is of fossils and closes at the end of November.

“We borrowed from local collectors and others from the Vancouver Island Paleontological Society, from Courtenay,” said Hutton.

However, the museum also boasts a permanent fossil exhibit that will be “greatly augmented” in the next few months.

“I’m getting new fossil case shelves and I found some new fossils — that’s an oxymoron — in the back room a couple of years ago when I was cleaning up,” Hutton said.

The museum also has a permanent natural history exhibit, which consists of birds, sea life and other items.

“We also have a mineral exhibit, showcasing North Island minerals, and a small amount of mining stuff, which I’m really hoping to bump up.”

Hutton said there used to be lots of mining activity on the North Island, “but our exhibit, quite frankly, does not reflect that.

“One of my goals is to make that way better.”

The museum is obviously doing it right because it entertains about 5,000 visitors a year.

And this year when tourism is decidedly lighter than in years past, the museum saw visitors are up about an eight per cent increase over August last year.

The museum also has an interesting forestry exhibit, filled with pictures and some old home movies from the 1960s.

“The other major permanent exhibit is something we call the Settler’s Effect,” Hutton said.“That’s where we have a little cabin full of furniture and other home-related items.”

The museum also has a sizeable gift shop, and besides showcasing local arts and artists, it performs another vital duty.

“When we need to do anything that requires money, we rely on visitor donations, in-kind donations from local businesses and profits from the gift shop, which has a heavy focus on First nations-themed goods and silver jewelry, all locally crafted as well as local interest books,” Hutton said.