The exhibit Terry Fox: Running to the Heart of Canada, runs at the museum until Oct. 1. Photo courtesy of Royal BC Museum

The exhibit Terry Fox: Running to the Heart of Canada, runs at the museum until Oct. 1. Photo courtesy of Royal BC Museum

The end of the summer marks a family affair at Royal BC Museum in Victoria

Terry Fox exhibit brought higher than expected numbers to museum this summer

The Royal BC Museum is ending summer on a high note thanks to the popularity of two exhibitions commemorating Canada’s 150th year.

Terry Fox: Running to the Heart of Canada and Family: Bonds and Belonging have drawn higher than expected numbers since opening this spring. Janet MacDonald, head of learning at the museum, said many of the visitors are Canadians coming across the country, much like Fox did, on a 150th tour.

“It’s just this whole idea of what a Canadian hero is,” she said. “I think the name hero gets tossed around a lot these days, but he really was one of our nation builders in that respect. And we are a national family.”

A nostalgic and tragic mix of history, the exhibit includes letters written to Fox during his run by Canadians.

“It’s really quite amazing,” MacDonald said. “Some people have actually come in and seen their letters and freaked out. Some don’t even remember they wrote them.”

Bill Vigars will speak as part of the Live at Lunch series, Sept. 6. Vigars and his two children rode alongside Fox during his 1980 Marathon of Hope, so his story is a personal one. Fox’s late mother Betty “fought to the end” to make sure his family maintained the run in memory of Terry, who succumbed to his cancer after having to give up on his dream to make it to the West Coast.

MacDonald said that kind of embodiment of family and how strong that bond can be in times of challenges is what connects the two displays. While Family: Bonds and Belonging doesn’t have the same legacy as Running to the Heart of Canada, both have had impact, emotionally.

“It’s been a wonderful way to express where this country is through the lens of family,” she said.

As fall approaches, the museum is set to host Night at the Museum, the family friendly annual sleepover where kids find themselves dozing off next to the woolly mammoths and waking up to yoga and a pancake breakfast.

And the popular food cart fest in the back courtyard will remain all winter with heated coverage to enjoy local eats for the third year running.

“We’re just really reveling in the fact that it’s been such a great summer with such great exhibits that have resonated [with visitors].”

kristyn.anthony @vicnews.com