Exhibits and Collections
The Quesnel Museum houses thousands of artifacts in three galleries painting a comprehensive picture of Quesnel's rich history.
Vignettes recreate some of the businesses in the community and serve as open storage for the museum's extensive artifact collection. Displays include a general store, the hospital, a one room school house, dentist and optometrist's offices, a barber shop, the Royal Bank and the Linotype machine used to print the Cariboo Observer Newspaper. Also in this gallery are cabinets of kitchen equipment, china, silver and glass, a Discovery Centre for children and a corner reserved for Mandy the Museum's "Haunted Doll."
The Centennial Gallery is dedicated to the major economic activities that have supported the community over the years. Feature displays include forestry, mining, and agriculture. Many households depended on a variety of skills to support the family. A miner or a rancher very likely also had a trap line and cut timber in the winter. They were self reliant and practiced many other trades from carpentry to making shoes, or even home brew. Critical to Quesnel's commercial success was its location on major transportation routes. The gallery also includes exhibits on freighting and the Pacific Great Eastern Railway.
Quesnel's multicultural heritage is represented in the Lois Dawson wing.
The Footprints in Stone exhibit was developed with the assistance of the Southern Carrier Nations and represents the history and culture of the Dakelh people. The skilled leather work and the large birch bark basket collection from the Bohanon House are notable features of the display.
Joe & Baptiste Elkin and Willie Long Johnny by C. D. Hoy
Family Portrait by C. S. Wing
The Cariboo Historical Society and Bill Hong assembled impressive collections relating to the activities of the early Chinese settlers. In the early 1900s there were two professional photographers in Quesnel. C.D. Hoy took up photography in Barkerville. He later moved to Quesnel and opened a general store. As the business became more successful he stopped taking photographs professionally, although he continued to round up his growing family to pose for portraits. C.S. Wing was born in Quesnel and became a partner in the family business, the Wah Lee Company. He took portraits of local residents and also views of sternwheelers and freight wagons for post cards. Both men drew their sitters from the First Nations, Chinese and "White" communities, perhaps because of their own minority status or because they were familiar as local shop keepers. These remarkable intimate portraits are unique in representing the mixing of cultures in a small frontier town. A selection of photographs is always are on exhibit in the C.D. Hoy Gallery.
The development of the lumber industry on an industrial scale in the 1960s attracted a new cultural group to Quesnel. The Indo-Canadian Community is represented by a display depicting wedding traditions and explaining some of the principles of the Sikh religion.
This gallery also includes a number of room settings. In the 1970s the City purchased the Bohanon House, the retirement home of a prosperous ranching family who had come to the Cariboo in 1875. The sale provided for a lifetime tenancy for a surviving family member and included the complete contents of the house. After the death of Florence Fuller, the Bohanon/Fuller collection was transferred to the Museum. It numbers over 1000 artifacts and provides the foundation for several of the museum's exhibits.