Maxine and Stan McRae were presented with lifetime memberships for their donation of the land on which the museum building stands and their volunteer work that has helped make the current museum a reality at the May 2019 Opening Day of the Gabriola Historical and Museum Society (GHMS) .
The late 1980s and early 1990s saw a rush to develop Gabriola Island into a series of small lots for residential housing. One such development was proposed for what are the lands known locally as the ‘meadow’. The 20-acre parcel bordered by the Agi Hall South Road was owned by an Edmonton, AB numbered company that was in fiscal distress. Stan and Maxine McRae purchased this property to prevent it from being developed into half to ¾ acre lots similar to those on Pat Burns and Harrison Way. Stan’s ancestors were among those cleared off the highlands in Scotland and he recalls his father’s strong belief that “land is not to make profit from”.
The McRaes purchased the 20 acres with the intention of leaving it as green space for gentle human activities like walking and for habitation by wildlife. In 1991, after an intensive process, the McRaes were able to donate part of the 20 acres to GHMS for the current museum building. Maxine along with other GHMS board members,including Joyce Lockwood and Vera Wayman, spent significant time working as volunteers at a Nanaimo casino to raise money for the building.
The McRaes have been committed volunteers on Gabriola, this includes Maxine’s role as treasurer of the GHMS in the 1990s.They have recognized that museums are important cultural institutions in small and large communities. Along with schools, libraries, community halls, and churches, museums serve as the heart and soul of communities as well as having an additional, deeper role of preserving the memories and artifacts of communities. Museums, like the McRaes, leave a legacy that withstands time.
Please join the museum in celebrating the McRaes and treasuring the values they bring to our community. And please support your local museum and all museums. You can find more information on the McRaes in the museum’s archives. Or you can visit the Saturday Farmer’s Market and stop in for a chat and check out Stan’s finely crafted wooden bowls.
By Gloria Filax (and published in the July 31 2019 Sounder)