British Columbia

How a trapper/prospector/truck driver helped preserve northeast B.C. history

Lloyd Cushway spent a lifetime amassing a collection of artifacts, which he is now donating to the Rocky Mountain Fort Museum in Taylor, B.C.

Lloyd Cushway is donating his collection of artifacts to the Rocky Mountain Fort Museum in Taylor, B.C.

Visitors at the Rocky Mountain Fort Museum in Taylor, B.C. which includes about 40 items donated by longtime local Lloyd Cushway. (District of Taylor)

A longtime collector of artifacts in northeast B.C. is donating his entire collection to a small regional museum in the hopes of preserving history for a new generation.

Lloyd Cushway was born and raised north of Taylor, a small community near Fort St. John along B.C.'s Alaska Highway.

Though Cushway said he "didn't really waste much time on formal education,, he was always fascinated by the local history of his home, particularly the story of the North West Company fort  that opened in 1796, making it by some estimates the first non-Indigenous settlement in mainland B.C.

Over the years Cushway travelled the region holding a number of "northern boy" jobs, including trapping, prospecting, big game guiding and truck driving. He would collect stories about the early fur trade, along with artifacts he would come across in his travels. 
Cushway collected items from the fur trade and beyond to display at the Rocky Mountain Fort Museum. (District of Taylor)

Eventually he authored several books and started exhibiting his collection, at which point other people would add their own items to it through sales or donations. More recently, most of the collection has been on display at the Rocky Mountain Fort Museum in Taylor's Peace Island Park.

Now 79-years-old and living in Vernon, B.C., Cushway has decided to make the collection's home permanent by donating all of his artifacts to Taylor and its museum.

"I want to see it stay in the community. I think Taylor has a much better way of managing it now than I can," he said.

The collection will officially be turned over in a ceremony in 2018, at which point the District of Taylor will unveil a plaque thanking Cushway for his work.

Taylor Mayor Rob Fraser said he is thankful for Cushway's donation and said tourists often compliment the District on the collection.

As for Cushway, he said he's happy to know his collection will continue to keep history alive.

"It's time to say goodbye and leave it to people to enjoy it," he said.

With files from Josh Pagé and Sarah Penton