The Maritime Museum of B.C. may have an opportunity to stay local and return to its original home in Esquimalt, says Mayor Barb Desjardins.
Desjardins said the township is interested in starting discussions with the Maritime Museum of B.C. Society Board to bring the currently homeless collection back to the place it was born.
“It has a lot of opportunity when you think of combining the maritime museum and the military museum. There’s a lot of opportunity for that kind of facility in Esquimalt,” she said.
“We are a maritime community, we have the navy and we have the First Nations history as well. It would be a fit with Esquimalt and we’re not far away from Victoria and we’re well connected to tourists. It seems to make sense to me.”
Municipal archivist Gregory Evans said the museum originally opened its doors in Esquimalt in 1957 where it stayed for roughly seven to eight years before moving to Bastion Square in the mid 1960s.
“It was opened by the navy so that artifacts that were important to both the Royal Navy and Royal Canadian Navy could be saved and displayed somewhere, so they set up in that building that was a married officer’s quarters,” he said.
Desjardins started the process of bringing the museum back roughly a year ago, before it set up shop in the Steamship Terminal.
“In the past, we’ve had some preliminary discussions that was before they opted to go to the Steamship building. Since that has now fallen through and they’re looking for another building, certainly we would be open to having discussions,” she said.
The next step is to set up a meeting with the museum board to see if they’re interested, something board chair Clay Evans said they’re open to doing.
“We are willing to consider all viable options, particularly if they are on Victoria’s Harbour,” said Evans, noting that with limited staff, they are focused on moving the rest of the collection to a space on Seymour Street and setting up the new office in the Inner Harbour.
“We have had a multitude of enquiries from other municipalities, from property owners and agents as well as suggestions for alternative approaches such as ex B.C. Ferry and RCN vessels . . . As it stands we are reviewing options but have not seen any that are viable enough to provide the museum with a successful venue and keep the entire collection together.”