Tashme Museum Wins $ 5,000 Grand Prize at National Historic Places Competition – Hope Standard


The Sunshine Valley Tashme Museum is the big winner in a competition for historic places across Canada.

The museum documents the history and displays artefacts from the Tashme Internment Camp, which operated in Sunshine Valley from 1942 to 1946. Founder and curator Ryan Ellan said the museum won the grand prize in the #VisitList competition, d ‘$ 5,000 worth in services, including the creation of a virtual reality museum tour.

Organized by the National Trust for Canada, a charity that works to fund and increase the visibility of historic places across the country, the competition involved people preparing lists of historic places to visit and putting them online as well as tag the historic place they visited. During the month of the contest, Ellan said he asked each of the 261 visitors to request their entry.

“We posted the most photos, so we were up against 160 or something from other historic sites,” Ellan added. The winners were chosen in a draw, every time a spot was added to someone’s list they were entered into the draw, said Vanessa Arseneau of the National Trust.

Services valued at $ 5,000 include assistance with marketing, photography and development of a virtual reality tour.

This is not the only good news received by the old one-room museum. Ellan said a very generous donation has also come from a Tashme family, the amount they wish to keep anonymous. The donation will finance the construction of a 25-seat cinema in the original 425-square-foot large cold room in the internment camp’s butcher’s shop.

“It was on my to-do list, eventually someday,” Ellan said, and when the family visited the museum, they asked him what exactly was on the to-do list. A few weeks later, a check arrived in the mail. The hall will also serve as additional exhibition space and a quiet space where museum visitors can sit and watch documentaries.

Ellan is also taking care of the restoration of the original Tashme Kindergarten which was moved to the property in 2019.

And on September 12, a dedication event was held for the newly installed memorial trees and benches on the museum grounds. The three trees and three benches were “adopted” by a total of five Tashme families and one family with a history of internment in the Lethbridge area.

A commemorative plaque adorns each bench and tree with information about the family and where they lived in Tashme. The project has helped fund a fence around the museum property, which will serve to discourage ATV traffic on the site.

Tashme internment camp was the largest in Canada, housing 2,600 Japanese Canadians forcibly removed from their homes along the coast after being declared “enemy aliens” and stripped of their property by the Canadian government. Tashme was also the closest camp to the coast of British Columbia, just outside a 100-mile “exclusion zone” set up by the government during World War II.

Even the drive to Tashme is part of this dark chapter in Canadian history, as a stretch of Highway 3 from Hope to Princeton through the Sunshine Valley was constructed using forced male labor. Canadians of Japanese descent.

“Although they are not known, able-bodied Canadians of Japanese origin 18 [to] 45 years old were sent to road camps as slaves to build highways in British Columbia during internment. Their wives and children have been taken de facto hostage in nearby internment camps, ”Ellan wrote on the National Trust website.

Ellan said that never in his wildest dreams did he think the museum would become what he has. “The museum started out as a 10ft by 10ft exhibit wall, and now we’re pushing 3,100 square feet and we’re growing.”

The Sunshine Valley Tashme Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays this fall.

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Three memorial trees and three memorial benches, as well as a new fence, have been installed on the property of the Sunshine Valley Tashme Museum. (Photo by Ryan Ellan)

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Patrick F. Williams

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