When does a museum not feel like a museum? When it feels like home. I first crossed the threshold of the Log Cabin Museum in September 2018 for its reopening and the dedication of a new accessibility ramp. While the rustic exterior drew me in, it was the generations of families gathered near the steady stone fireplace that made me stay. The smoke from the fire curled and rose like memories, the snaps and pops a staccato to voices present and past. It was a scene that had played out hundreds of times through the history of this now-heritage building.
Tucked away in lovely Saanichton Green Park, the Log Cabin Museum was purpose-built on what was at the time the site of the Saanich Fairgrounds. Premier Simon Fraser Tolmie placed the first log on February 3rd, 1933 and the museum opened less than six months later on July 1st. But the idea for a Pioneer Hall was born years earlier, as grandchildren of the families that had settled in the area realized the growing need for artifact storage and a meeting space to hold get-togethers. Families paid $5 each to fund the project and provided volunteer labour. From the time it was completed, the museum has hosted regular meetings, cribbage nights, potlucks, harvest dinners, and other social events.
Initially built by and for the member families, the Log Cabin Museum is open to all and boasts over 100 years of history and memorabilia of the Saanich Peninsula. It is the oldest museum in British Columbia that is still on its original site, and is owned and operated by the Saanich Pioneer Society, a registered charity. Run entirely by volunteers, the museum is open on Saturday afternoons from Spring to Fall. Regular events include their “Talk and Tea” series, socials, and Christmas in the Cabin. The wrap-around veranda, partly closed in by the end of the 1930s, provides side rooms used today as exhibit space. Displays are changed from time to time and artifacts from the extensive collection are rotated for viewing.
While much has changed in the area from the early days, the Log Cabin Museum has a timeless quality that invites visitors to break the hectic pace of modern life and pause in front of the fire of this community living room.
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Sonia Nicholson is an Archivist in Victoria, British Columbia. A storyteller at heart, Sonia’s work in recent years has focused on public programming, outreach, social media, and web content. Follow her on Twitter @nicholsonsonia_