At the Sunshine Coast Museum and Archives, the clearest example for me is our exhibit Time Lapse: The Past is Present. This presentation, which my fellow summer student Nico installed last week, is incredibly simple in nature. It consists of pairs of photographs: one archival, one relatively present-day. All in all, the exhibit documents the same locations in Gibsons Landing and the Sunshine Coast one hundred years apart. To some, a century may seem like a long time, but in comparison with the vastness of recorded human history (say nothing of the Universe!), a century is less than a blip. Both of these perspectives play out in the exhibit photographs as well as throughout the museum. In the instance of the store in Roberts Creek, for example, the one-room shack supported by roughly-hewn wood stumps is nothing like its present-day form. The same goes for the primitive logging camps, which morphed into the industry they are today with the help of technological advances. Archival photographs from Gibsons Landing provide a less dramatic shift. Though Molly’s Reach Restaurant has changed significantly, the original façade is still decipherable in the archival photograph. While Gibsons Harbour has grown in size and the dominant composition of boats has changed from industrial to recreational, the harbour is still recognizable.
I will never be a fisher in Gibsons Landing during the Great Depression, scouring the coastline in my handtroller for subsistence. Nor will I ever be a member of the Squamish Nation, patrolling the waters on canoe during the thousands of years before European colonization. But when I see pictures of the Gibsons harbour one hundred years ago, I can smell the salty sea air that I experience every morning on my walk to work at the museum. I can see people walking along the docks, readying their boats for a day at sea, while a young family walks their dog along the seawall. I can hear the bustle as shops and restaurants in Lower Gibsons set up their chairs and wares. I know my life is drastically different, but with a little bit of imagination, I’m almost there. I encourage you to join me.