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Love Where You Live

MAY
2024

 

The growing community of the Comox Valley is considered the Shellfish Capital of Canada due to its oyster, scallop, and clam harvesting. On occasion inside an oyster a pearl can be found, and one of these metaphorical pearls just might be a small museum, the HMCS ALBERNI Museum & Memorial (HAMM) in downtown Courtenay. Founded 22 years ago by an ex-pat American from Wyoming, Lewis Bartholomew has dedicated the past decades to the memory of the young crew of a torpedoed WWII Royal Canadian Navy corvette and educating the public on the importance on preserving stories of that time period.

The sacred core of the museum is the big blue wall which lists all crew members who served on K103 and U480. Here you may sit and contemplate their sacrifice. But the museum is not just about interesting artefacts, but of the personal stories attached to them. Families, both local and across Canada, have donated or loaned HAMM precious letters, uniforms, medals, flags, and naval paraphernalia which parents or grandparents have kept for many years but now they just don’t know what to do with them. HAMM is honoured to be entrusted with their care and presentation as they join its collections.

HAMM is family friendly and younger visitors are encouraged to interact with the navy rope display, watch short videos, push a mystery red button, and ask lots of questions. In addition to the main hall, HAMM has an adjoining Education Centre where rotating special exhibits (such as this summer’s “Innocent Eyes: war from a child’s perspective”) are presented. The EC has an extensive lending library for members and is a venue for commemorative events such as Vancouver Island ANZAC Day in April, Battle of the Atlantic Sunday in May, and Remembrance Day in November.

The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm. Admission is $5 per adult, $10 per family, $2 per student and free to members and military. Before entering or leaving, visitors are encouraged to ring the Bell of Remembrance located just beside the entrance.

625 Cliffe Avenue, inside the Courtenay Mall (across from city hall). Parking next door or across the street.

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