Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin coordinator Joe Borsato bid farewell to his position at the museum in mid-August after close to a three year tenure.
Borsato has become a familiar face around the museum over the last few years, caring for and expanding its exhibits through times of both turmoil and change. Starting as an assistant curator before becoming the museum coordinator, this lakecity local, born and raised, holds both Honours and Masters degrees in history and a passion for enhancing the community.
“I’m proud to have contributed to the development of the museum over the last two and a half years that I’ve been here,” Borsato said.
Under his stewardship, the museum relocated its entire collection and offices to the Tourism Discovery Centre and then weathered the wildfires of 2017. It took until this summer for the space to be fully renovated, which Borsato is very pleased to have accomplished in partnership with the City of Williams Lake. During the transition, Borsato also implemented a new collections management system, including a database, to help museum staff and volunteers stay organized and do “so much more with our collection.”
The move, Borsato added, has been a net positive for the museum as they are already getting five times the visitors they did, on average, prior to the move in 2017.
Another project Borsato oversaw was the design and construction of new museum display cases from their contractor Bill James which were excellently made and will be valuable to exhibits moving forward.
“The thing that I’m most happy with, that we’ve done in that time, is creating the new school program. I think that’s been a really great contribution to the education of local elementary students, which was in partnership with [Esket elder] Cecilia DeRose and the ever-knowledgeable Mary Forbes of the Potato House,” Borsato said.
Alongside education, he’s been happy to put together a few new exhibits including the Cartography in the Cariboo and the St. Joseph’s Mission exhibits. Both tend to be overlooked parts of the region’s history and ones he wanted to share with the entire community.
Maintaining the B.C. Cowboy Hall of Fame, now located in the upper gallery of the Tourism Discovery Centre, has also been an honour, Borsato said.
“It’s very fulfilling work, it’s been especially fulfilling to have worked with so many community members and to have helped create a venue for their stories,” Borsato said.
Borsato said he hopes the work he’s done will ensure the museum will remain a place for programming, moving forward, and not just a place to display artifacts. He strongly believes a museum can be a place of education for both children and the general public by learning the facts of history and, through them, the community’s heritage.
“The museum can be a centre for people to learn their communities’ histories so that they may better understand their present, without some sort of understanding of context the public can’t make informed decisions,” Borsato said.
While Borsato’s passion for history and the local community have not dried up, he feels it is time to move on from the museum.
His reasons for doing so, when asked, are private, however, he said he intends to pursue other opportunities within Williams Lake he hopes will come to fruition soon.
In closing, Borsato wanted to thank every volunteer, staff member and community members he got the chance to work with over the last few years for all the hard work they put in daily at the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin.
When contacted by the Tribune, Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin society vice president Mary Telfer said the board was sad to see Borsato go.
“We wish him well in his endevours,” Telfer said.