Sidney Museum & Archives Newsletter

Spring 2023

The Sidney Museum and Archives is located in Sidney/SET,TINES on the traditional territory of the W̱SÁNEĆ People.

We are grateful for the opportunity to live, learn and work alongside the BOḰEĆEN (Pauquachin), SȾÁ,UTW̱ (Tsawout), W̱JOȽEȽP (Tsartlip) and W̱SÍḴEM (Tseycum) First Nations.

It's been a great start to the new year with our seventeenth annual LEGO exhibit and the changeover to our new community collaborated exhibit Snapshots of the Saanich Peninsula!

There's been lots happening at the museum so read on to learn more about the our past and present exhibits, Sidney's Lost Chinatown, new staff, and more!

It's a bit of a long one so make sure to read all the way to the end to see a popular gif from a Canadian TV show :)
Image: P1984.017.002 - Sidney's Chinatown c. early 1900s
Director's Message
Michael Goodchild

Greetings from the Sidney Museum & Archives, and happy spring to you all! With the recent influx of sunny weather, I’m optimistic that our long, lingering winter is drawing to a close!


It's hard to believe that we're already in the month of May! 2023 kicked off with the return of our popular LEGO exhibit, Brilliance - Built Brick by Brick, for its seventeenth anniversary. We made the decision to run the exhibit a month earlier than usual, and so from December 1 - March 31 our galleries were filled to the brim with LEGO sets of all shapes and sizes to the delight of thousands (yes, thousands!) of visitors that came through our doors. As you can imagine, setting up for LEGO requires considerable time and energy, and it simply would not have been possible without the unwavering support of the Museum's phenomenal volunteers and my colleagues.

As part of our regularly-scheduled LEGO displays, we ran yet another successful Family Day LEGO weekend which included our Beacon Avenue Scavenger Hunt, displays down at the Sidney Pier Hotel by the Victoria LEGO Users Group, and a timely LEGO/DUPLO recreation of the M.V. Harvester King, a rebuilt kelp dredge and one of the founding two vessels on the Sidney-Anacortes ferry route in 1923. This work was provided by the talented LEGO Certified Professional Robin Sather who invited visitors to check out his progress throughout the weekend. Thanks to our amazing volunteers for their help over the long weekend and to the 23 Sidney businesses who hosted a LEGO set for our scavenger hunt. We quite literally could not have done this without you!

Spring has been an interesting time for the Museum with fond farewells to our Megan and Jessies as they move onto new opportunities. We with them all the success in the world! Charlotte Clar has joined us as our brand-new Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator, Orion Denroche is this year's summer student, and Jessica Payne joins the team as the new Assistant Director and Archives Assistant. A big welcome to all of them! Against this backdrop of staff comings and goings, out newest exhibit, Snapshots of the Saanich Peninsula, has already made a splash featuring over 90 photos provided by community members across the Peninsula, many of whom are members of the Sidney Shutterbugs Camera Club. The result is a beautiful smorgasbord of vibrant images that capture the life, work, and play of the Peninsula. The exhibit will be running through late spring and summer - we hope that you'll come and see it for yourself!

Looking ahead, we have plans to revitalize our permanent historical displays in the fall, allowing us to showcase and celebrate more of the 9,000 objects in our care. This is a tricky thing to balance, as we want to ensure that our galleries are robust enough for long-time visitors while also ensuring enough flexibility for temporary and travelling exhibits. Follow us on social media as w share more on this work in the coming months. 

From collections management and ongoing display enhancements to research for our ongoing Waterfront Signage work, there's lots going on behind the scenes at the Museum and we're very excited to have you along with us. It should make for an exciting ride!

A Note from the Chair
Shannon Neustaeter


I am honored to write to you as the newly appointed Chair of the Sidney Museum and Archives. While serving on the board these past few years, I have had the privilege of witnessing the incredible work of our team and volunteers, as well as the support of our community. Like many organizations, we have faced a few staffing challenges. However, I am happy to announce that we have successfully overcome this obstacle and now have a dedicated and talented team in place. Our team is focused on preserving our community's history and heritage by ensuring our exhibits are engaging, informative, and accessible to all.

The 2023 Lego exhibition drew visitors from far and wide, with record attendance numbers and donations. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our amazing volunteers. Without their tireless enthusiasm and countless hours of work, this achievement would not have been possible. Our volunteers are the backbone of the museum, and we are immensely grateful for their invaluable contributions. Our current exhibition, "Snapshots of the Saanich Peninsula," offers visitors a unique perspective on the history of the region. We have received positive feedback from visitors and contributing photographers, who appreciate the opportunity to showcase their work highlighting the beauty and diversity of the local area.

Looking ahead, we remain committed to preserving and sharing the stories and artifacts that make our community special. Our staff and volunteers have exciting plans in the works, including new programs and exhibits that will further showcase the rich history and culture of Sidney/North Saanich.

We are deeply grateful for your ongoing support and encouragement as we navigate the challenges many local nonprofits are facing in the current economic climate. With your help, we can preserve and celebrate the history and heritage of our community for generations to come.

Shannon Newstaeter, Chair 

Brilliance - Built Brick by Brick

Our Seventeenth Annual LEGO Exhibit
December 2022 - March 2023

2023 kicked off with the continuation of our annual LEGO exhibit that wrapped up at the end of March. Every year we are amazed at how many members of our community come to see our displays. This year we hit record numbers of visitors that enjoyed many activities that were a part of the exhibit including multiple scavenger hunts and a Guess the Number of Bricks Contest. 
In February we had another successful Family Day long weekend full of fun events for the 1,939 visitors who came and participated. Once again we had LEGO Certified Professional Robin Sather on site to construct a 6ft model of the Sidney-Anacortes Ferry, the Harvester King. 

We organized a Sidney wide LEGO scavenger hunt with participating businesses across town. A huge thank you to the participating sponsors!

We also had a LEGO mosaic where visitors created a piece to display, which after the end of the weekend went on display at a Peninsula Co-Op.
Volunteers Peter and Brenda Garnham during our Family Day Events, February 2023
Finally, the Sidney Pier Hotel hosted our longtime friends the Victoria LEGO Users Group who displayed a number of wonderful dioramas. 

Thank you to our Presenting Sponsor Peninsula Co-Op and to the Government of British Columbia for their support of this year’s events. 

The entirety of the LEGO exhibit would not have been possible without our incredible volunteers who welcomed over 10,000 visitors to the museum throughout the entirety of the LEGO exhibit. 

Our LEGO exhibit is always an incredibly fun time at the museum which we enjoy doing every year. Thank you to all the visitors that came to see the displays and participate in our events. We look forward to welcoming you back next January!

Out with the Old, In with the New!

Snapshots of the Saanich Peninsula
April - July 2023

Since time immemorial, the Saanich Peninsula has provided countless communities with shelter, resources, recreation, and work. The Peninsula is 34 kilometres long, 4 kilometres wide, and today is home to over 150,000 people. It is a place steeped in beauty and history and is worth celebrating, and that is exactly what our upcoming photography exhibition intends to do!

Snapshots of the Saanich Peninsula aims to bring together the many perspectives and stories of the region, and showcase them in a community-collaborated photo gallery. Between January – March, Sidney Museum invited photographers interested in having their work be a part of this exhibit to submit photos that highlight the diversity and beauty of the region. This is the first in what we hope to be many similar photography exhibits, and the intent is to provide a venue for local Sidney and Saanich Peninsula photographers to showcase their work, to celebrate the beauty and diversity of life, people, and work on the Peninsula.

The overall theme of this exhibit is “New Beginnings”.  All submitted photos were required to fit in some way under this theme – whether showcasing the area’s vibrant ecology, Peninsula residents at work or at play.

The exhibit will remain on-display at the Museum until the end of July. We look forward to welcoming you to the space, and celebrate Snapshots of the Saanich Peninsula!

Lights, Camera, Open!

Exhibit Opening
May 2023

To celebrate all of the hard work of staff, volunteers, and photographers, in May we held an Exhibit Reception to mark an official opening date. 

We welcomed our volunteers, members of the museum Board, and the photographers themselves to enjoy the space, have some snacks, and see the incredible diversity of the Peninsula showcased for all. 

The evening was a success with many photographers getting to view their photos in the exhibit for the first time and volunteers who hadn't yet had the chance to go through admired the finished product. 

Snapshots of the Saanich Peninsula is now on show. Come see the wonders of the Saanich Peninsula for yourself!

There's still time! Have your say on our updated Waterfront Signs

Waterfront Signage Project Update

May 2023

If you have recently walked along Sidney’s scenic waterfront, you may have noticed that some of the heritage panels showcasing the history of Sidney and the Saanich Peninsula are in need of repair! These signs were originally installed in 2009, with topics ranging from the James Island Explosives Plant to the history of sea routes between Vancouver Island and the Mainland.

The Sidney Museum has made plans to revitalize and redesign the existing waterfront heritage signage, as well as to add content that creates a more inclusive and diverse space along the accessible waterfront walk.

As part of our work, we want to hear from you! We’re interested in learning what the waterfront signs mean to you, and in understanding how you would like the history of Sidney and the Saanich Peninsula to be presented.

This feedback survey takes five minutes to complete, and will help us in our work to create beautiful and informative heritage panels that tell a more complete story of the region. We greatly appreciate your feedback!

The survey has been extended for one more month and now closes on May 31. Let us know what you think should go on our new and updated waterfront signs!

Complete the survey here!

Read more about the project here

A HUGE Thank You to all of our wonderful Volunteers

Volunteer Appreciation Week

April 2023

Collections Management Volunteers Heather Corbitt (left), Debbie Lamb (middle), and Isabel Jones (right)
It is no secret that here at the Museum we would not be able to operate if it weren't for our incredible volunteers. They are the friendly face that greets our visitors and who also do so much work behind the scenes coming in week after week to research and organize our collections and archives, set up and take down each exhibit, and any other hands on projects the museum needs help with. 

Whereas some have been volunteering with the museum for almost 25 years, some have only started a few months ago. But, each and every volunteer that we are lucky enough to have on our team brings a unique perspective and invaluable knowledge to the museum that we are so lucky to have. 

April 16-23, 2023 may be National Volunteer Week, but us staff at the museum know that these amazing individuals deserve to be celebrated every day. 

So, to each and every volunteer that has contributed to the Sidney Museum and Archives from 1971-2023, thank you for your hard work and dedication to preserving the local history of the Saanich Peninsula. We couldn't do it with out you. 


Volunteer with Us!

Are you interested in joining our amazing team of volunteers? We are looking for friendly individuals who are enthusiastic about welcoming visitors to the museum. 

Click here to fill out an application and to learn more
Or visit:

Email for more information

Welcome to Our New Staff!

Hiring Update

April-May 2023

There have been a few staffing changes here at the museum recently. We've hired two permanent full-time staff as well as our summer student. Jessica Payne has accepted the role of Assistant Director and Archives Manager, Charlotte Clar is our new Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator, and Orion Denroche is this year's Summer Student/Museum Assistant. 
Jessica Payne
Assistant Director/Archives Assistant
Hello all! My name is Jessica Payne and I am very pleased to introduce myself as the new Sidney Museum and Archives’ Assistant Director.

Originally hailing from Saanichton, I have recently returned home after spending the last decade or so studying, working, and travelling in various parts of the world. Most recently, I had been working as the Collections Manager and the Artist-in-Residence Program Coordinator at the Caetani Centre in Vernon, B.C. where I had the incredible opportunity to work closely with the Caetani family’s collection of personal artefacts as well as their collection of fine art. I completed a BFA at Concordia University with a double major in Studio Art and Philosophy, so although art and perhaps the ‘world of ideas’ is my background, I have become passionate about adapting these skills to the world of public history and education. It is meaningful to me to be in a position in which I have the opportunity to democratize knowledge, facilitate intentional educational experiences for our community, as well as to preserve the material history of our region for generations to come.

I’ll be spending my initial weeks familiarizing myself with our permanent exhibitions, our collections, the archives, and of course our healthy battalion of volunteers. I am very excited to be a part of the team and to get to work on all the important projects that we have on the go and upcoming.

In my spare time, I’m keen on reading up on obscure histories, working on fibre and painting projects, rock climbing and hiking, and taking my cats out for leashed walks (yes, I’m one of those people). I love hearing oral histories and learning new things about the Saanich Peninsula, so please, come down and introduce yourself! 
Charlotte Clar
Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator

Hello everyone, my name is Charlotte Clar and I am thrilled to be the new Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator at the Sidney Museum!

This is actually not my first time working here. Back in 2020 I was a Summer Student for a co-op work term and absolutely fell in love with working at museums. Fast forward three years I’ve completed my degree and was ready for a real adult job when I saw the museum had a position open and jumped at the chance to come back. I can honestly say the same positive feelings I had from my previous time at the museum have not changed and a month later I am confident I made the right decision joining this new team to help guide the museum into the future. 

Although I mostly studied British history in school, since working in Sidney I have really discovered a passion for local history which is abundant here in the Saanich Peninsula. As a native hailing from Victoria, I’ve never actually spent much time in Sidney so it’s been really neat to discover this amazing town so close to home. 

In the future I’ll be planning events, leading our amazing volunteers, and working on promoting the museum so residents, tourists, and visitors alike can discover the amazing local history right at their doors. Whether it's out in the community or in the museum itself, we hope you’ll come see for yourself!

Orion Denroche
Museum Assistant

Hello everyone, I’m Orion Denroche and I’ll be the Museum Assistant for summer 2023! I’ve recently moved back to Vancouver Island after spending a number of years on the mainland, and I’m happy to be back in the town where I spent much of my childhood. I’m a graduate of Okanagan College’s fine woodworking program and a current UVic undergraduate where I am primarily studying English while also taking archival studies and anthropology courses. 

I’m an avid mountain biker, trail runner, and longboarder, so if you ever need help moving stuff around the museum I’m more than happy to lend a hand. In my free time I enjoy doing simple embroidery projects, leatherworking, woodburning, as well as many other sorts of hand crafts and repairs. I’m also a lifelong fan of Lego, board games, and video games and will happily talk about them for a good long while. In my time here I’ll be helping out around the museum in day-to-day work as well as working with the team toward bigger projects. Some of these projects are the Waterfront Signage Project, the Indigenous display, and the ongoing organization of our collection. 

As a previous Sidney area resident and someone who visited the museum often as a child, I’m honored and excited to be working with our wonderful volunteers and staff to make summer 2023 the best it can possibly be! I’ll be in the museum most days, so if you’re in the area feel free to pop into the museum and say hi - I love meeting new people! :)

Sidney Stories: Sidney's Lost Chinatown

Celebrating Asian Heritage Month
May 2023

Image: P1984.017.002 - Sidney's Chinatown c. early 1900s
Tucked away amongst replica kitchens and general stores, display cases containing farming and fishing equipment is a case with comparatively fewer artifacts. Not to be overlooked, this one tells the story of Sidney’s lost Chinatown. 
Because of Sidney’s proximity to Victoria, it is likely that most, if not all, of the Chinese population that moved to the Peninsula passed through Victoria first. Those who did venture further north mostly worked as labourers in several sites including the Sidney Saw Mill, the North Saanich Brick and Tile Co., and farms, such as Aberavon Farm.

Completing the gaps of the story of Sidney's Chinatown is difficult. There are no records of the first Chinese people who arrived in town, or how many were here before the turn of the century. 
P975.315.1 - Portrait of Ah Sing, Worker at Aberavon Farm, 1880

Census records show that there were 34 Chinese immigrants who were living in Sidney in 1901. This number rose to 124 by 1911 which was a quarter of the town’s population. With the increase in community members, several Chinese immigrants began businesses. Choug Sing and Choug Feue purchased the corner block on Fifth Street in 1905. Over the next six years more business sprang up and by the 1910s five out of six buildings on this block of Beacon Avenue were owned by Chinese merchants. Two general merchant stores were owned by Kwong Lee Yuen and Ching Lee Lung as well as two laundries along the block. 
Advertisement for Chung Lee Lung's store, Sidney and Island's Review, December 27, 1912

The buildings were made from inexpensive materials and had large, false fronts that hid their rough construction. Nevertheless, the Chinese people also used these business buildings as their homes and kept chickens, ducks, and pigs in their backyards. 

Most of the Chinese population in Sidney was male due to Canada’s immigration policies for whole families to be together and because of the work that was available in the area. Lim Bang, a prominent Chinese Canadian businessman from Victoria, owned a brick factory at Bazan Bay near Sidney. 

Chinatown in Sidney made the white settlers in the area uneasy due to misunderstanding and blatant racism. They had little difficulty painting Chinatown as a place full of criminal and illegal activity, allegations which have never been proven. Yet that did little to stop many police raids on businesses that resulted in no concrete evidence of members of the Chinese community participating in unlawful pastimes. The raids further perpetuated to the white setter community that Chinatown was a dark, mysterious, criminal place. 

The loss of Sidney’s Chinatown was due to several factors. Firstly, the closure of the Sidney Sawmill in 1934 led to mass unemployment in the Chinese community and many left for other employment opportunities in Victoria. Sometime in the 1930s a fire broke out in an unoccupied building in the block of Chinese owned businesses leading to much of the area destroyed. Now considered an eyesore by the city, the rest was torn down to make way for a new post office in 1936. With that Sidney’s Chinatown became practically erased with few Chinese people left in the town and no physical remnants standing, all that remains is fragments of descriptions, names, places, and a few objects to tell the story of this important history. 
P1993.035.017 - Sidney Post Office, south side of Beacon Avenue near Fourth Street, 1935
What's Next at the Sidney Museum?

Our photography exhibition, Snapshots of the Saanich Peninsula runs until the end of July.

The Sidney Street Market is back for the first time since its hiatus during COVID-19! Running from June 15 to September 15 on Thursday nights look for the museum's booth just outside our doors in the Old Post Office Building and take a break from the crowds by popping in for a visit; we will be open until 8:30pm. 

Additionally, we are thrilled to be participating in the Peninsula Celebration Society's Family Fun Fair happening at Iroquois Park on Saturday July 1 from 12:30-4:30pm. 

Thank you so much for your continued support of the Sidney Museum and Archives. It's been a busy start to the year, and we look forward to continuing to serve the community

If you want to support our efforts please consider donating to the Sidney Museum by visiting 

That's all for now! Thanks so much for reading. 
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, my e-mail is I'd love to hear from you. 

All the best, 
Keep in Touch!
Do know someone who is interested in local community history?
Forward this newsletter to them!
Newsletter by: Charlotte Clar - Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator
*LEGO is a registered trade mark of The Lego Group of Billund, Denmark
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The Sidney Museum and Archives is located in Sidney/SET,TINES on the traditional territory of the W̱SÁNEĆ People. 

We are grateful for the opportunity to live, learn and work alongside the BOḰEĆEN (Pauquachin), SȾÁ,UTW̱ (Tsawout), W̱JOȽEȽP (Tsartlip) and W̱SÍḴEM (Tseycum) First Nations.

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Sidney Museum
2423 Beacon Avenue L-3
Sidney BC, V8L 1X5

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