Kate Harrison Whiteside
Joyce Austin, who has put her commitment to sharing the town’s history full speed ahead for over 35 year, is retiring on September 26 from the Rossland Museum.
When she started part-time in 1978, the focus was on cataloguing artifacts, transcribing taped interviews and changing the displays. In 1981, after going to business college in Trail, she took on the post full-time. The Museum became a big draw for tourists with its historical displays and mine tunnel tour.
“I love it,” said Joyce. “I’ve always enjoyed working with the artifacts, archives, photographs and helping people with their research.”
The current Museum was built in 1967, a dozen years after it was officially started.
The driving force behind included people like Jack MacDonald, Roger Terhune, Army Hartley, and Ernie Pierpoint. Joyce remembers them all fondly.
Joyce recalled how their ‘incredible passion and vision’ influenced and inspired her.
“I feel really privileged to have worked with them,” said Joyce.
“Joyce has been the steady hand at the wheel,” said Libby Martin, President of the Rossland Museum and Archives Association. “Joyce has a vast amount of experience, which we will sorely miss.”
Joyce’s fondest memories include working underground helping with timbering, creating a better-organized storage system for artifacts and getting the archives in shape. But it always comes back to the people she worked with, particularly the young students.
“I’ve worked with so many incredible young students,” Joyce recalls. “I remember the tour guides tried to scare me by moving mannequins—but it never worked. Students always found it great to work here; some would come back for two or three years.”
Many people come to use the Rossland Museum’s extensive archives for research at many academic levels and for special projects.
Working with visitors is another area Joyce holds dear. The Museum, which is home to the Visitor Information Centre, helps draw people into the vast displays and activities the facility offers.
“It’s pretty amazing really where visitors have come from” said Joyce. “Africa, Saudi Arabia, Netherlands, Scandinavia, South America, New Zealand, Australia, China and Japan.”
“A lot of them came for the Visitor Information Centre, or the mine tour, which was a huge attraction,” said Joyce. “Many of them are blown away. They have no idea a community of our size has a facility like this.”
“I am a Rosslander,” said Joyce, who moved away for a time, but came back to raise her family. “Rossland is a little piece of heaven.”
“I really hope the community cares and continues to support the museum and help move it forward,” said Joyce. “We have an incredible facility. We get wonderful comments from people from all over the world saying how outstanding it is. We know we have to make changes.”
The Museum has ambitious plans for fundraising to help build a new facility. Joyce said the next museum manager will need to have a real passion for history, be hard working and be committed to promoting the community.
“The new manager will have to help find the ways and means of moving the museum forward, along with the challenge of the plans for our new facility,” said Libby Martin.
Although Joyce plans to relax as she begins her retirement, she hasn’t ruled out coming back as a volunteer.
The Museum invites the public to attend Joyce’s farewell party, Saturday, September 27 at the Miners’ Hall from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m..