Close to 50 people gathered at Heritage Park Feb. 19 to recognize Mamie and Fred Kerby, the couple who spearheaded its formation more than 30 years ago.
A tea was held and those attending were able to view a plaque placed inside the park’s Kalum Hotel building commemorating the couple, now deceased.
Children Eva, Norma and Eric Kerby were on hand as well as grandchildren for speeches and refreshments in the dance hall building right beside the hotel.
Fred Kerby passed away in 2006 and Mamie Kerby just last year.
Terrace and District Museum Society president Grant Piffer noted the achievements of the Kerbys to rescue the eight log structures from their original locations in the area and move them to what is now Heritage Park.
“Most or all of these buildings would have simply been lost forever,” said Piffer of the urgent nature of the effort to save the structures which began in 1982.
The Kerbys, with daughter Norma assisting, gathered up a core of volunteers, formed a society and received government grants first to move and then reassemble the buildings.
“It was also a daunting task but one that Mamie Kerby was more than up for,” said Piffer.
He noted that the organizing capacity of Mamie Kerby matched the practical aspects Fred Kerby brought to the task of moving the buildings and securing them in their new home.
As a young country, Canada is still made up of stories where individuals work toward a greater good, said Piffer.
“And that was certainly the case of Mamie and Fred Kerby,” he said.
Daughter Norma recalled some of the early years of the Terrace Regional Historical Society, the society formed to move the Heritage Park plans forward in the early 1980s.
The philosophical foundation of the society was to preserve some of the architecture unique to the area, she said.
“You know, what we don’t need is another cement building,” said Kerby of a comment made by her mother.
The effort to create Heritage Park was also assisted by job training and other grants that were available in the early 1980s when a recession all but closed down the local woods industry, she noted.
Locating Heritage Park where it is today was a logical decision because the land was then owned by the province, part of the property which was once the home of Skeenaview, a care facility that was the predecessor to modern day Terraceview Lodge.
That being the case, Kerby said it could be obtained at no cost.
“My mother said they wouldn’t miss two acres,” she remembered of the approach taken to secure the land.
It also made sense because residents of Terraceview Lodge could visit and enjoy the park, she added.
“This whole complex was established with a huge amount of community effort and a huge amount of community support,” said Kerby.
Heritage Park’s founding society, the Terrace Regional Historical Society, still exists but the park’s operations are now handled through the Terrace and District Museum Society, which was formed in the late 1990s. It receives financial assistance from the City of Terrace and the Kitimat-Stikine regional district.
Mayor Carol Leclerc and members of council were also at the tea as was Leah Harris, president of the Terrace Regional Historical Society. The plaque was paid for by the society through the assistance of a large donation by Bill and Helene McRae.