It didn’t take Michelle Reguly long to be shocked by Smithers history.
The Bulkley Valley Museum’s new curator, in the job now for close to three months, left small-town Ontario to take the post in small-town B.C. and has found the area a very welcoming and friendly community.
As for what shocked her about our local history, it was one of Smithers’ little known — at least to people from outside the area— fact that we are the original home of the egg carton.
“The egg carton. Did not know about the egg carton at all,” she said when asked if there has been anything surprising about Bulkley Valley history.
The safe transport of eggs is, of course, only a small part of local history. Since arriving in town from an area relatively near Sudbury, Ontario she has been cramming a century’s worth of knowledge, thanks to the information sources of Bulkley Valley Museum Director Fergus Tomlin, locally written books, and the collected wisdom of residents.
“I love visitors. They either have stories or presents. I’m okay with that,” said Reguly, who doesn’t let any air of dryness surround her work as a collector of old things.
She said there have been a lot of people who have come in to tell her about many previously untold stories of the valley. She welcomes the knowledge.
“Lots to learn, lots to learn,” she said. “[And] still lots to learn.”
With a Masters in museum studies from the University of Sydney in Australia, she knows a lot about the craft of chronicling history, but she’s also very good at breaking down, in simple terms, what it is she does.
“It’s sort of a scavenger hunt through time,” she said.
Her journey to curatorship started, naturally, many years ago.
She said that as a child, during her family vacations, art galleries and museums were a common stop and she developed a fond appreciation of those places.
Initially her desire was to take up being an artist and have her works on display, but it eventually shifted to being the person displaying the objects.
“It came about when I discovered I couldn’t draw straight lines with rulers, I realized I need to get out of making art and displaying art,” she said.
Being able to take museum studies in the warm climate of Australia was a bonus.
Right now she’s overseeing The Grey exhibit, showcasing information on the recent Hollywood film that was produced partly in Smithers.
In the spring they’ll be presenting another exhibit, that one on the Titanic and its infamous voyage.
And yes, there is a Smithers connection to that tragedy. If you want to know how we’re involved, you’ll have to see the show.