Many years before the museum was built, a group of dedicated citizens were busy preserving Quesnel's history. When the Cariboo Historical Society was formed in 1951, the members had already amassed a collection of farm machinery, mining and logging equipment, household items and photographs. They were given space in the basement of the Federal Building to store their artifacts. In the mid 1950s, the Board of Trade approached the town council about building a Tourist Information Center. The Society members became involved in the project and, after many years of planning and fund raising, a joint facility opened in LeBourdais Park in 1963. Society members and volunteers operated the museum until 1972, when the City officially took over.
As early as 1971 the museum had outgrown its space and a second room with a basement for storage was added. The Lois Dawson Memorial Wing, was built in 1987, in part to accomodate the Bohanon/Fuller Collection, the contents of a heritage home belonging to one of the area's more prosperous pioneering families. It is climate controlled and now houses an exhibit gallery, work room and storage space for the archival collection.
In 1995 the archival collection was organized using archival principles and made accessible to the public, thanks to funding from the Archives Association of British Columbia. The name of the museum was changed to the Quesnel & District Museum and Archives to reflect this new service.
The museum continues to evolve, adopting new technologies to make the collection more accessible to the public and to tell our community's story. A renovation to update the facility's infrastructure and exterior exhibits has been undertaken in several phases during the past five years. We look forward to reopening to the public in the spring of 2021.