The Journal and Museum
These two buildings which sit side by side are quite different; one is a large brick box like building, the other a less imposing stucco building with Spanish like front. The smaller building is a decade older than the brick, yet the history of the two buildings share similar stories…
Built in 1898 the small stucco building became home to the BC Mining Journal. It relocated to this site from Railway Avenue where it had been in production since 1895.
“The MINING JOURNAL force are now pleasantly located in their new office. The rooms are commodious and well located. If anyone wishes to pay up their subscription we are easily found”. A yearly subscription at that time cost $2.00. Early headlines of the Journal detailed mostly mining news, although it did carry other items of interest from Lillooet to Barkerville as well as town events. Owner/editor FS Reynolds and partner A.H. S. Sroufe who created the Journal carried on in the new building until 1902. Mr. J.E. Knight became its next owner, followed by D.W. Rowland’s in 1908. The Cumming family owned and operated the paper until 1978, a span of 66 years, which included four generations. RD was not only an editor he was a photographer, writer, historian, and a collector. By the mid 1930’s Cumming had gathered enough artifacts to set up a display in the loft above the Journal office. This display would be the cornerstone for the future museum.
Like the Cumming name is synonymous with the Journal it is the Richards family that is tantamount with the Dominion building. When the brand new government structure was erected on the corner next to the Journal in 1917 it housed the Post Office, Telegraph Office, telephone office and customs office. It was here that various members of the Richards family would settle for the next 60 plus years. Thomas John Richards was the first Post Master in the new building and his service lasted until 1949. T.J’s children Marjory, Gwen, and Leonard would all see service within these walls. Dick Richards a grandson of T.J’s was assistant Post Master in 1978 when the Post Office moved to its new location.
The stucco building is still the home of the Journal, now owned by Black Press; it was their first purchase on what would become a chain of newspapers. The upstairs which once housed the museum is unsafe and the outside stairs have been removed. The original little black vault sits in the corner, too heavy to be moved. The Dominion building was bricked over in 1938, and renovated in 1957. It was acquired by the Village in 1980, and in 1982 after extensive renovations it became home to the Ashcroft Museum. Mr. Cummings early collection of artifacts is a stone throw away from their original home. The building today is full of artifacts, stories, and photos donated by the Cummings, Richards and other Ashcroft pioneer families.
In 1984 the Ashcroft Museum received an award of Merit from the BC Museums Association-for exhibits as designed by Bob Graham, which combine wit, humour, imagination and good taste.