I spent the day in Chilliwack, at their archives. It was my first visit, both to the city and to the institution. It was a partly cloudy and a partly sunny day, great both for the highway and for walking around. It was neat to be out of the big city, I have to say.
The Chilliwack Archives are part of a small complex of government offices with excellent parking. They are open 8:30am to 4:30pm. They have one reading/reception room and, I would assume, a limited area of archival storage. There are a couple of large scale maps of the district on the walls which are useful orientation for a newby to the area like me.
Shannon Bettles is a magnificently helpful and cheerful Archivist, even though she keeps the room a little cooler than I was comfortable with (City-soft I guess). They have a well-stocked bookshelf, all the Directories you would expect, large books of early tax records, and I am sure a good collection of materials and artifacts.
For me today, what they have in particular is a digitized version of the “Chilliwack Progress” newspaper. They have it stored as individual pdfs for each weekly edition from the nineteenth-century on. This means you can do full word searches on a range of dates through a simple screen they provide. I did a simple search for my subject and found scores and scores of hits in just the first fourteen years (1910-1924) that I searched.
This is how local newspapers need to be stored for research. Easy to use, simple, and comprehensive results. PDF searches do what’s required — no need to re-invent the wheel. Well done, Chilliwack!
The squeeze on local government funds is unhappily apparent here. I had planned to go back tomorrow to finish but they are closed tomorrow due, I understand, to staff shortages or some such. If you happen to be passing through Chilliwack some time, take a half hour to look into the Archives and browse. It’s good to make sure they and their bosses know they are appreciated.