The Stewards Winter Update

Dear Friends of Natural History,

Our beloved Natural History collection has not travelled very far since the school fire forced it into storage in August 2018, but it has moved multiple times. Back and forth, in and out of containers, into the community school for storage and then out again. No fewer than ten shuffles were made, with volunteers carefully carrying the taxidermy eagle, the seagull, and the owl in parade-like processions, once through a snowy winter day and later through one of the hottest days of the summer.

We are happy to let you know that everything has now been safely moved into our new home on the corner of Central and Sollans. On September 1st, a ribbon cutting with bubbly apple juice marked the day the stewards were given the keys. Thanks to the generosity of School District 71, we now have a 5-year lease for the use of this marvelous modular space, and the adjacent large open porch.

How best can we imagine reinstalling our collection given the changes in thinking about natural history centres over the last decade? How can we display the fascinating objects that we hold in trust for the community and at the same time talk about our colonial past and our urgent need to address our broken relationship with the natural world?

Planning sessions with consultants, Michelle Willard, and Claire Guiot of Mighty Museum, coupled with all the information we gathered from our first community survey gave us lots to think about as we began in earnest to plan for our July 2022 reopening.

This past summer, our presence selling Forest Backpacks for families at the Farmer’s Market, Beulah Creek Nursery, and the Co-op Ringside gave us plenty of opportunity to talk with people about their wishes and dreams for the new Hornby Island Natural History Centre. Complete with field guide and over two dozen activities, these backpacks became a catalyst for conversations about how to introduce children to the natural world on Hornby Island.

Kihan Yoon-Henderson returned for her fourth year, first as a summer student and now as intern until March of 2022. Her interviews with a number of community members have given us great insight into some of the environmental changes that have occurred on Hornby over time and into some of the valuable research happening here, collecting and analyzing data as a way to bring needed conversations into the public light.

And we’re thrilled to have installation designer and artist, Emi Honda join us this fall. She has created a lovely flow to the space. You can find her in our new home constructing new displays and sprucing up others.

With so many programs on hold due to Covid-19 and our lack of exhibition space, it was a pleasure to join the senior class of the Hornby Island Community School this October for the 6th year of the Helliwell Park Restoration Project, planting a variety of native grasses, with the ongoing project of reintroducing the Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly into the park. We look forward to engaging with more students this spring as we continue to work in our new space figuring out where things will go and what stories they will tell.

Planning for a new summer workshop and speaker series is gently underway as we continue to navigate our world with masks on and windows open.

May the forest and fields around you and all the creatures who call those places home inspire you to spend more time outside building relationships with the natural world.

All the best for a happy and healthy New Year,~ The Natural History Stewards
Natural History Centre Request for Support
 With your help, we can create a new space that not only reflects a commitment to deepening our relationships with the natural world but makes visible our growing understanding of changes in thinking about natural history centres in light of our colonial past, our present climate extremes, and our desire to work to ensure a future filled with hope for our children.  

For those of you whose relationship with The Hornby Island Natural History Centre is new, you might not know that we were originally housed in the community school before a fire in August 2018 forced us to close. With our collection stored safely in two large containers, we secured a long-term lease with School District 71 for one of the portable modules on the corner of Central and Sollans.  

Please consider making a generous donation to the Hornby Island Natural History Centre before the end of the year. Tax receipts will be issued for donations of 25 dollars or more. 

You are welcome to direct your gift to a particular aspect of the new space or request that we allocate it to our general reopening efforts. 
– children’s books, puzzles, and games for playful exploration $25
– resource books for researching $50
– touch tables for experiential learning $100
– comfy chairs for reading $250- table and stools for drawing $300
– new displays for herring, birds, and fossils $500
– outdoor signage for wayfinding $700
– labels and interpretive panels for context $800

You can donate to Natural History online via the HIES’ Canada Helps Donate Page. Click Here for the page. Under “Fund” you can select the Natural History Centre from the drop down options. 

Or please address cheques to HIES / Hornby Natural History Centre and mail to: HIES / Natural History, 2100 B Sollans Road, Hornby Island, BC, V0R 1Z0. 

Cheques may also be left at the Natural History box at the Free Post.  Our new space recently got a fresh coat of white paint, the cabinets and display cases have been moved in, and the eagle, the owl and the vulture are being mounted from the ceiling to help give us an idea of where our other displays might go.  

Wishing you the best of the holiday season, All the stewards, staff, and volunteers of the Hornby Island Natural History Centre

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