Christos Dikeakos’s The Hastings Mill Store Museum is on display at the Hastings Mill Store Museum until September 23, 2017. It is a large ink jet print (157.5 x 193 cm) of an evening meeting of the members of The Native Daughters of British Columbia that run the museum. The Daughters of BC are a secret (maybe not that secret) society of women that were formed in 1919 with the objective to pay tribute to the history and pioneers of British Columbia. You have to be born in BC to be a member. The Daughters saved the Hastings Mill store and post office, which is the oldest building in Vancouver, in 1930 and had it moved from downtown to its current location near Jericho Beach. The museum if filled with a vast array of Vancouver and British Columbia artefacts and an especially impressive collection of First Nations baskets. The fact that the museum is not professionally curated, meaning is not thematically or historically organized, is actually one of its most refreshing aspects. At every turn you find a different and surprising discovery, making the experience very unique and where you do not necessarily feel like you are being led by the hand. While the museum is not large, one can easily spend a day in its crammed quarters revelling in its odd delights.
Dikeakos’s image captures the quirkiness of the museum and the women who comprise the Daughters of BC. Like the museum itself, the Daughters are aging, as there do not seem to be many new younger members. The society has the appearance of something from the past, serving tea and turnovers at its meeting. Although, I can attest to the fact that in speaking with some of the members they relayed stories about a lot more drinking and smoking at the meetings in the “old” days. It is not clear to me how much longer the museum can exist in its current form and that is what makes Dikeakos’s photograph all the more important and timely.
Closing reception is on September 23, 6pm to 8:30pm, 1575 Alma Street.