Comox council recently honoured long-time Comox resident, Shirley McLoughlin.
When McLoughlin died last year, the Town was concerned that the memory of her legacy would fade. Shirley, who served two terms as a Comox councillor, believed that Comox’s rich history deserved a home. Motivated by her love of local history, she convinced council to dedicate space for an archives and museum in the downtown core; a place where citizens could learn about their community and, important to McLoughlin, bring their heirlooms, documents and photos to be housed in the Town’s own archives.
Comox, the newest of the three Comox Valley municipalities to incorporate, finally had a home for its history. Established in 1998 and open to the public in 2000, Comox Archives and Museum started life in a small space in the downstairs of the Town-owned building at 1729 Comox Avenue.
In 2011, it came of age and moved upstairs to its prominent and accessible position on Comox Avenue, which it shares with the Pearl Ellis Art Gallery. This pleasant, open and sunny space, which once housed the Town library, was again a public amenity.
In memory of McLoughlin, the Town has created a plaque and it is now on permanent display in the Comox museum. The Comox Archives and Museum Board have also installed a storyboard on the outside of the building.
Shirley McLoughlin was a woman ahead of her time. Leader of the B.C. Liberal Party from 1981 to 1983, McLoughlin was the first woman to ever lead a political party in B.C. She threw her hat in the ring for the Liberal Party of Canada running for Comox-Powell River in the 1980 federal election and in 1983 ran for the B.C. Liberal Party in Vancouver Centre, finally finding her niche in local government.
McLoughlin led an interesting life. She enjoyed politics, travel and local history. However, as a young child growing up in the Depression, she was profoundly influenced by the hardship she witnessed and this stayed with her all her life. McLoughlin earned a degree in economics and went on to become a teacher.
“We are very grateful to Shirley McLoughlin for her vision, passion and commitment to recording and preserving Comox history. The Council is pleased to honour her memory. Think of Shirley when you visit the Town’s archives and museum,” said Comox Mayor, Russ Arnott.