In February of this year, a beloved B.C institution, the Maritime Museum of British Columbia, announced that it would be making the move to Langford. The Maritime Museum is due to be housed in a specially-built performing arts centre, which will be able to showcase its full collection of artifacts and historical documents. Like many others, I was thrilled to learn that this exceptional museum was due to find a home within our riding. However, I think that we can go further still in celebrating our province and nation’s maritime history.
Canada currently has nine national museums, of which seven are located in the national capital region of Ottawa, Ontario and Gatineau, Quebec. Only one museum, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, is located in Western Canada, though in this case ‘Western Canada’ is only as far as Winnipeg, Manitoba. With this in mind, I would like to echo the sentiments that have been shared by many, which is that British Columbia should be home to a national museum, specifically the Maritime Museum of Western Canada.
The Indigenous peoples of these lands have had a relationship with the ocean for time immemorial, utilizing canoes to explore different waterways, and cultivating clam gardens and other forms of mariculture. The waters around the province have also been home to numerous historic vessels, such as George Vancouver’s HMS Discovery, or Dorothy, the oldest sailing yacht in North America’s Pacific Northwest. Our province has a rich maritime history, coupled with a great deal of contemporary developments in areas such as ocean research, much of which is unknown to the public as a whole. With a national maritime museum, there would be incredible opportunities for engagement with our province’s past and present connections to the sea, and turning the Maritime Museum of B.C into such a national museum would be of tremendous benefit to our community, province, and country.
I am thrilled that the Maritime Museum of B.C. is moving into Langford, but my hope is that we can go one step further and make this amazing museum a national institution. Western Canada doesn’t end in Manitoba, and with such an incredible history, elevating the Maritime Museum of British Columbia to the national level would be an excellent way to truly celebrate a critical aspect of our provincial heritage.
– Alistair MacGregor is member of parliament for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford