A series of photographs taken by Syd Western are on display at the Williams Lake Library as part of the Downtown Williams Lake Art Walk. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

A series of photographs taken by Syd Western are on display at the Williams Lake Library as part of the Downtown Williams Lake Art Walk. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

New museum manager returns home to share passion of area’s history

Together they shared a passion for photography, taking hundreds of photos

Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin

Special to the Tribune

The Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin is excited to welcome a new manager to the museum team, Pippa Reissner.

As a local, born and raised in Williams Lake, Pippa Reissner is overjoyed about her return to her hometown to lead operations at the museum.

Pippa has recently relocated back to Williams Lake from Kamloops, where she worked in hospitality after achieving a diploma in resort and hotel management from Thompson Rivers University.

Pippa’s interest in the history of the area stemmed from her family’s involvement in the Williams Lake business community.

Her grandparents owned and operated several businesses in Williams Lake over the years after moving from Alberta in 1959.

While her interest began with the rich history of family businesses, Pippa believes in the importance of showcasing the vast history of our community and looks forward to working alongside those in the community who share her passion for the history of the surrounding area.

She is excited to utilize her experience and knowledge in the tourism industry as the museum team works closely with both locals and tourists.

Pippa and the museum team are currently brainstorming new programs to welcome more community outreach, including updated tours, new and updated exhibits, and bringing back museum events following their closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alongside welcoming Reissner to the museum team, staff recently worked with the Station House Gallery through the loan of a few Williams Lake Stampede memorabilia artifacts from the museum collection, to be a part of the Station House Gallery, July exhibit called “Our Stampede.”

The museum wishes to express gratitude to the Station House Gallery for welcoming them to be a part of this exhibit and tribute to the Williams Lake Stampede, and for the opportunity to work with the Station House Gallery team.

While one exhibition partnership wraps up, another is just beginning as part of the Downtown Williams Lake Art Walk 2021. As the museum was busy working to create an upcoming exhibition, “The Laketown,” they discovered Syd Western’s photographs.

The Cariboo Regional District Library and Williams Lake Archives were gracious enough to loan the photos to Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin and have been paired to display the series of photographs at this year’s Art Walk.

Syd and Cordelia Western first connected through the T.A. Moore Store at the corner of Railway Avenue and Oliver Street in Williams Lake.

Together they shared a passion for photography, taking hundreds of photos between the 1920s and 1960s.

In 1926 they purchased the Oliver Theatre and operated it together until 1951 to where they built a new theatre that would later be named the Alston Theatre.

Syd was manager of the T.A. Moore Store, and later partner in the “Western, Rife & Pigeon” Grocery Store, he also participated in the political scene of early Williams Lake and later, alongside friend Alistair Mackenzie, established Williams Lake’s very own municipal holiday “Wrestling Day.”

Syd and Cordelia Western’s photo collection is an incredibly valuable piece of local history that allows us to have a unique look at the life in the Williams Lake area from the 1920s to 1960s.

The Downtown Williams Lake Art Walk 2021 kicked off on Aug. 14 and will carry through to Sept. 8. The museum encourages everyone to pop out, support local artists, local businesses, and organizations.

In further preparation to open their new exhibition “The Laketown,” Museum Project Co-ordinator Casey Bennett, along with the museum summer students, are actively scanning photo negatives into the museum collection.

Alongside the Western’s photographs, a variety of other collections at the museum will be showcased in “The Laketown,” showing the evolution of downtown Williams Lake from a small stop along the PGE railway in 1919 to the vibrant community it is today.

“The Laketown” exhibition is set to open November 2021.

With Reissner leading the museum team alongside the museum board of directors, the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin is excited for the future.


 


editor@wltribune.com

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