Sooke Lions set out to save museum’s steam donkey

Museum clears out land to build additional displays and storage

The Sooke Region Museum has cleared land on its property and received a donation of three large logs in preparation for some exciting new projects.

Lee Boyko, executive director at the Sooke Region Museum, said that with the support of the Sooke Lions Club, volunteers, donor and the provincial government, the museum will be refurbishing the historic steam donkey, plus building additional storage and displays for large industrial artifacts, including those that represent logging.

“Over the next few months, we will be adding onto our existing storage pavilion, removing the existing blacksmith shop and building a new storage building,” said Boyko. “We want to try and keep care of the objects we have in our collection and the steam donkey is unique piece of equipment.”

He explained that the new building will also include exterior facing exhibits that will help tell the story of logging in the region.

The construction of the storage facility is expected to be completed by March, but the restoration of the donkey will take longer.

Al Beddows, a Lions member and president of the museum, said the Lions have a very close connection with the museum and thought it would be a nice project for the members to restore the donkey.

“It’s an old piece of Sooke history, the donkey engines were used to haul the big logs out of the bush, and a group of us were quite taken back on how it’s fallen into disrepair,” said Beddows.

They found the wood the steam donkey sits on was rotting, and decided it was time to do a restoration of the whole machine.

“We’ll never bring it up to steam standards but we are hoping to put a little electric motor in there to get a few things moving for the general public,” said Beddows.

Queesto Forest Products donated the three logs that will replace the deteriorating skids the Donkey currently sits on. The Lions are also reaching for any volunteers who may have some useful skills such as in logging or working with sheet medal to come out and help with the project.

“I think it’s important for the next generation to see where we’ve come from,” said Beddows. “Sooke is very dear to me and I just think the donkey fits in with our logging past. It’s my connection to this community and I think it’s important to have some of these things on display.”

To volunteer or to find out more, please contact the Sooke Region Museum at 250-642-6351.

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