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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Preserving the "glory of the past" : the Native Daughters of British Columbia and the construction of pioneer history in the Hastings Mill Museum Ellis, Cassidy Rose

Abstract

In 1929 the old Hastings Mill Store building was towed by scow from Vancouver's inner harbour to its present location near Spanish Banks in Point Grey. In the following two years, the Native Daughters of British Columbia transformed the old building in to a museum to preserve historical relics of the early days of Vancouver. Their museum recounted pioneer histories of journey to, and settlement in, British Columbia in order to celebrate European development of the region, promote Vancouver's connection with the British Empire, and encourage future economic growth in the city. Today, the Native Daughters continue to operate this quirky and curious museum. Their exclusive tale of European pioneer history has been preserved in its original form, untouched by decades of museological change and post-colonial critique of cultural representation. The thesis uses the Hastings Mill Museum as a case study in heritage preservation in British Columbia. It claims that the museum itself is an artifact. It is a material remnant of an important movement in local history when such groups as the Native Daughters used the preservation of the past to address contemporary political and social concerns. Representing an idealized pioneer past provided an important source of political and social power for the Native Daughters. Through the Hastings Mill Museum, the Native Daughters helped its members - and the province's community of native-born, Anglo-European - affirm their status as a genealogical and historical elite. The Native Daughters used a variant of the North American "pioneer myth," a nostalgic interpretation of local history that distilled the city's history into a simple narrative of anglo-European settlement, sacrifice and development, to document their claim to the region's political, institutional, and economic power. Their use of heritage preservation as a source of power was shaped by gender. The Daughters used their position as "guardians" and "nurturers" of the region's heritage in order to promote and strengthen the position of their community of white, native-born British Columbians.

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