Lorne Ayres

Lorne Ayres

Heritage Museum grand opening in Tofino

“Everyone is invited and opening day is free,” said museum director Lorne Ayres of Aug. 17's event.

Nora O’Malley



Soon locals and visitors will be able to see Tofino’s rich history hanging on the walls.

After several years of planning and research, the Tofino Clayoquot Heritage Society (TCHS) has proudly announced the grand opening of the Tofino Clayoquot Heritage Museum will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 17 between 1-4 p.m.

The freshly painted space, complete with museum lighting, can be found in the lower level of Tofino Legion building (331 Main Street) beside the library.

“Everyone is invited and opening day is free,” said museum director Lorne Ayres.

Highlights of the heritage exhibit include old photographs, whaling harpoons, a relic canoe, and model boats offered on loan by Tofino local Roland Arnet who is a descendant of one of the first groups of settlers to the region.

Ayres said one of the goals the TCHS set out to accomplish with the museum was to specifically tell the comprehensive story of the area, touching on all the major events.

“The West Coast of B.C. is now thought to be the dominant route that people took coming from Asia across into the Americas,” Ayres told the Westerly News.

“That’s one of the ways that we differ from a lot of small town museums. A lot of small town museums are crammed with artifacts and they build a story around those artifacts, but they don’t necessarily have a complete history. Now, we are going to have lots of artifacts from 1900 on but prior to that we don’t so everything is going to be in posters and photographs and drawings,” he said.

“The problem here is they didn’t use a lot of stone implements, which is what artifacts are. They used mostly shell and bone and they don’t preserve. And certainly wood doesn’t.”

He said the posters will show the migration route of the first settlers, a little Nuu-chah-nulth history, and delve into how Captain James Cook influenced the sea otter pelt trade in the late-1770s.

“We have a lot of old sources. People have done a lot of research in the area. And then two years ago, Margaret Horsfield and Ian Kennedy published their book on Clayoquot history. Margaret Horsfield has published several other books. She is one of primary sources. We also go through the B.C. Archives to get old photographs and maps,” said Ayres.

One of the concerns Ayres drew into consideration about the little museum was lack of storage space. As it stands, one out of the two lavatories in their rented establishment was converted into a storage area to house the backlog of gathered archives and antiquities.

The museum director is always on the hunt for more historical objects, nonetheless.

“What we’re particularly interested in is getting old photographs. We won’t even necessarily take them as a total donation, we will scan them and give them back to people if they want,” he said.

Operational costs for the Tofino Clayoquot Heritage Museum are largely supported by donations from the local business community. After the grand opening on Aug. 17, the museum will remain open to the public until the end of the month and as much as can be managed by volunteers onwards.