Glimpse into different time at Courtneay and District Museum

Upstairs at Wah Lee’s provides a glimpse into a different time and place.

Const. Dave Anderson on left (upper right) in front of Wah Lee Store

Upstairs at Wah Lee’s provides a glimpse into a different time and place.

Wearing everything from sheepskin chaps to bearskin wraps and jackets and ties, the black and white prints present the multicultural milieu of Quesnel in the early 20th century.

Curated by Faith Moosang and organized by the Quesnel and District Museum and Archives, Upstairs at Wah Lee’s, Portraits from the C.S. Wing Studio, is on display at the Courtenay and District Museum until Sept. 29.

“The images are a beautiful example of the clarity of glass plate negatives and of the diversity of British Columbia communities at the turn of the 20th century,” says Deborah Griffiths, curator of the Courtenay Museum. “It is an exceptional exhibit.”

Chow Shong Wing was born in Quesnel around 1890. His family ran the Wah Lee Store.

When he was 17, Wing set up a darkroom and photographic studio upstairs. As the first professional photographer in the area, he documented the lives of the Caucasian, Chinese and First Nations residents.

Through primarily formal poses, the images capture the accomplishments, dreams, work and leisure time of the era. There is a stern-looking, or perhaps terrified, young bride, a mother and child and a young man on one knee holding a rifle. Then there are the cowboys relaxing in the Occidental Bar and two young men dressed in jackets, ties and fedoras smoking and drinking.

As well as being home to many cultures, it’s obvious that Quesnel also possessed a variety of socio-economic levels.

It’s also interesting to note that although there are numerous horses and dogs in the photographs, few children appear. And no one is smiling. Obviously having a photograph taken was a special occasion that required a solemn countenance.

The 30 images come from a larger glass plate negative collection belonging to the Quesnel and District. Over time, emulsion from glass plate negatives degrades, altering the image in various ways. The fact that the photographs in the exhibit have largely been reproduced as is, adds to the feeling of authenticity.

Wing’s studio had wide plank floors and rough finished wood walls. At times his backdrop curtain looks like an old wool blanket tacked up at the end of a hallway. Most of the settings are sparse but the details of dress and demeanor tell a thousand stories.

Summer hours at the Courtenay Museum are Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 4. Admission is by donation.

 

Just Posted

Deadline looming for North Island College scholarship applications

Students have until April 24 to apply for a record number of… Continue reading

AspieComic Micheal McCreary coming to the Comox Valley

Comox Valley Child Development Association hosting the fundraising event

BC Ferries to pilot selling beer and wine on select routes

Drinks from select B.C. breweries and VQA wineries to be sold on Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen route

VIDEO: Snowbirds arrive in Comox for annual spring training

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds have arrived in Comox for their annual spring… Continue reading

Locals Restaurant among Canada’s most sustainable eateries

The Courtenay restaurant is the only B.C. establishment to make the top six list

VIDEO: Alberta man creates world’s biggest caricature

Dean Foster is trying to break the world record for a radio show contest

B.C. senior sentenced for sexually abusing special-needs granddaughter

73-year-old Cortes Island man will go to jail for three years

Courtenay supports church renos, lunch program

Council approves $25,000 request from St. George’s United

Howe Sound Queen sailing toward retirement

Vessel now up for auction ends regular runs between Crofton and Vesuvius at the beginning of June

Should B.C. lower speed limits on side roads to 30 km/h?

Vancouver city councillor wants to decrease speed limits along neighbourhood side roads

Lawsuit eyed over union-only raise for B.C. community care workers

‘Low-wage redress’ leaves 17,000 employees out, employers say

Landlord of alleged Okanagan shooter recounts deadly day

Tony Friesen was working in one of the units of his Penticton building when he heard shots

Foreign national arrested in connection to thefts at YVR

A woman, 60, is being held in police custody as Richmond RCMP investigate

Police pursue pesky porker on Vancouver Island

‘This was allegedly not the pig’s first escape’

Most Read