The Port Hardy Museum’s temporary exhibit “Gwadzi & Port Hardy” officially opened on Saturday, April 30 with speeches from Councillor Pat Corbett-Labatt and hereditary Kwakiutl Chiefs Tony Hunt and Alfred ‘Hutch’ Hunt.
The event “went quite well,” said Museum Curator/Director Jane Hutton. “We had around 60 people stop in throughout the day, which is a really good turn out. We had a lot of great support from members of the community who made a special effort to come out and be involved, and I couldn’t be more proud.”
The “Gwadzi & Port Hardy” temporary exhibit is a fascinating look at a short history of how life and society evolved around the Hardy Bay area. The Kwakiutl people, whose ancestors were the first residents here, called it Gwadzi. Euoropeans named it Hardy Bay in honour of a British military hero, Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy.
In the 1840’s, the Hudson’s Bay Company discovered there was coal located near Hardy Bay. They soon built a trading post on the other side of Seven Hills, which is the land that divides Hardy Bay from Storey’s Beach/Beaver Harbour, that they named ‘Fort Rupert’ in honour of the company’s original royal patron.
The trading post was actually erected on the site of Tsaxis, one of the many villages used by the Kwakiutl people for eons. The fur trade and a land scheme then encouraged many people to start living in and around the Hardy Bay area more permanently.
The temporary exhibit features beautiful artwork, artifacts and tools, old photographs, and also maps with the sites of archaeological digs displayed on them. “Most of the temporary exhibits I put together I have to borrow most of the items we put on display, but this time we actually had the majority of things already in the museum in storage,” said Hutton, adding that the storage area in the back “has actually quite a lot more stuff about Port Hardy, but there just wasn’t enough room really to show every single thing, and I realized also partway through putting this together that I could have done an exhibit just on transportation in and out of Port Hardy alone, and I might still do that someday.”
Author Grant Evans was also at the event doing a signing for his new book ‘View From the Tower, My Port Hardy Years and West Coast Aviation Adventures’, which Hutton thought was great for the event as “a lot of guys from the airport and the 101 guys came in to visit, which worked out really nicely.”
While Hutton felt the event was quite successful in showcasing the brief history of the Hardy Bay area and how it came to be settled over the years, she made sure to cautiously note that “Although we’re all very happy and proud that Port Hardy is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary as a municipality, it should be emphatically stated that there were other people living here first who should rightly be recognized.”