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Chilliwack military museum has two months to find a new home

Past president is hopeful but a long-term solution will need funding
Inside the CFB Chilliwack Historical Society museum in the Masonic Hall on Hocking Avenue. The society has to find a new space and be out by Nov. 30. (Submitted)

Long-time residents of Chilliwack know all too well about the rich military history in the community, yet it’s getting harder and harder to find a permanent location for all the memorabilia.

First there was the 2015 closure of the Canadian Military Education Centre housed in a building now home to the Canada Border Services Agency’s (CBSA).

Then there was the struggling bid a year later by members of the CFB Chilliwack Historical Society (CFBCHS) to find a new location on the old base grounds to house the thousands of pieces of history, from medals to weaponry to tanks.

• RELATED: Chilliwack volunteers help connect military past

And today, the CFBCHS is in a bit of a bind again, forced to leave the location on the north side of the city that the society has housed 30,000-plus artifacts for 20 years.

“December 1 [we have to be out] and they are going to be tearing the building down,” past president Jim Harris said on Wednesday of the Masonic Hall on Hocking Avenue where they are located. “A strip mall is going in there and unfortunately there is no room for us.”

But there is some hope as they have a landlord willing to rent a 1,650-square-foot space right downtown. The problem is that between the short-term costs of moving and the unsustainable long-term prospect of paying rent, so they are looking for help.

“As these members are all elderly war veterans, they can not move their museum on their own and ask for any help their community to offer,” so reads part of the working on a GoFundMe set up to “Save the Chilliwack Military Museum.”

And while they are in a pinch having to be out in just two months, the current location wasn’t particularly a great one anyway.

“While we were getting great rent with the Masons, we were in a dungeon,” Harris said. “We were the best kept secret in Chilliwack.”

They were hidden away, little known, and only really open about one day a week. Harris said the idea is to reinvent the society, revitalize things, and be open in a more public location four or even five days a week.

“We are really anxious to get this going again,” he said. “We want to reinvent the society. We want to open it up and get more community action.

“If we take the place [downtown] there is a lot of foot traffic there, with the park in behind there. We will probably open in time to give Chilliwack a Christmas present.”

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• RELATED: SLIDE SHOW: CFB Chilliwack Memorial Dedication - 2013


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