The BC Cowboy Hall of Fame collection may be moved from the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin unless the City of Williams Lake can guarantee a proper display area, the BC Cowboy Heritage Society said. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

B.C. Cowboy Hall of Fame’s future in Williams Lake uncertain

The B.C. Cowboy Hall of Fame could be moved from the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin's temporary home at the Tourism Discovery Centre (TDC) if it cannot be properly displayed, said BC Cowboys Heritage Society president Mark McMillan.

The B.C. Cowboy Hall of Fame could be moved from the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin’s temporary home at the Tourism Discovery Centre (TDC) if it cannot be properly displayed, said BC Cowboys Heritage Society president Mark McMillan.

In the summer the museum was moved out of its former location to make way for a new 72-care bed facility and Jubilee House.

“We’ve written a letter to mayor and council asking for a definitive answer,” McMillan told the Tribune. “We are asking what they see as a future for the museum in Williams Lake and if so, when and where? If they don’t have a home for it then we might visit the idea of moving.”

City council will receive the letter at its next regular meeting on November 7.

McMillan said the society does not want to move the BC Cowboy Hall of Fame.

“Williams Lake is the heart of cowboy country and it just seems to be the place for it. I think it’s gone over extremely well there in the past and I think it’s drawn a lot of people to Williams Lake and to the museum both.”

Mayor Walt Cobb said Monday the City is writing a letter to respond to McMillan’s concerns.

“Our intent is to keep everything as much as we can,” Cobb told the Tribune. “We know that we are short of space right now, but we are in the process of developing a plan so that we can accommodate and keep the Cowboy Hall of Fame.”

The City hopes to expand the space in the TDC basement to finish renovating it so it could be a proper museum display area, Cobb explained.

“Unfortunately we had to move so fast that we couldn’t find a place for storage that was adequate to protect the artifacts so we knew they would be safe in the basement of the TDC because it’s dry,” Cobb said. “The decision was made in the short term to get it there so we knew it was safe and get out of the old museum on time.”

It will take longer to get the basement finished because the artifacts will have to be moved again so the renovations can take place and so far the City has not found a space to house the artifacts.

“We have places up at the airport, we are looking at possibly renting some place in town where we can store them safely and ensure they are are secure. We are looking at every avenue right now, but we haven’t found a solution yet.”

Praising the museum for doing an amazing job of presenting the BC Cowboy Hall of Fame and helping create public awareness of it, MacMillan said presently the museum cannot display enough of its collection.

“The displays are not secure, so it is always a constant worry,” he said. “In the former location, I know of one visitor who came in at 10 a.m., left for lunch, returned and the staff had to ask him to leave at 5 o’clock and he wasn’t even done yet. Today it would take 15 minutes to go through the displays.”

The BC Cowboy Heritage Society was started in 1998 and the first inductees to the Cowboy Hall of Fame were named that same year.

McMillan said the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin contacted the president at the time and arranged a partnership that has been successful ever since.

“We do a big fundraiser every year to help the museum support itself and there are lots of other museums that would like to get that support,” he said.

“If Williams Lake can’t see that and can’t see the fact that the museum needs a home, then like I said, we might think about moving.”

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