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Bulkley Valley examines Dutch immigrant presence in museum exhibit

Guest curators earn high praise

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

SMITHERS, British Columbia – An exhibit on Dutch immigration to the Bulkley Valley is the first one put together under the new Guest Curator policy of the Smithers-based Bulkley Valley Museum. The exhibit ’From Windmills to Sawmills and Beyond’ traces the arrival of the Lowlanders and how they put down their roots in a vastly different geography and work experience from the one back home.

Still very much a frontier society in the 1930s, Edmonton-based CNR fieldman Jacob Prins, who hailed from the Dutch small town community of Andijk, placed arrivals from his hometown in nearby Houston and also relocated other families which already had lived elsewhere in Canada.

This exhibit is a review of the Dutch migration to the Bulkley Valley (1937 - 1960). Although hardly known outside of the Bulkley Valley region, the Dutch migration to this area of Northwestern B.C. had many positive economic, social and cultural effects which are very well documented in From Windmills to Sawmills and Beyond....

Guest curators Doug Boersema, Ron Burger, Henry Kempenaar and Judy van der Meulen looked for pictures, stories and artifacts in the community and built on earlier efforts by fellow committee member George Koopmans, a retired teacher and administrator. Curator Fergus Tomlin describes the community’s response as so “magnanimous that the guest curators had a difficult time selecting which artifacts they could use” in the limited space available to them. Meanwhile, since its opening the exhibit has already earned itself ’high praise for its uniqueness and elegant simplicity.’

The exhibit can be seen until September 4, 2007 at the Bulkley Valley Museum, 1425 Main Street & Hwy 16, Smithers, BC. Hours of operation are: Monday to Friday: 9:00am to 5:00pm. Weekends: noon to 4pm. Museum director Fergus Tomlin welcomes enquiries at