A new sports exhibit celebrates the history of lacrosse in Nelson.
It features a large photo of Bill Townsend, who played lacrosse here in the 1930s, along with some of his lacrosse equipment.
Townsend’s daughter Pat McConnachie of Trail, along with other family members, attended the Oct. 29 opening of the exhibit at Touchstones Nelson Museum of Art and History.
“I’m just very emotional,” McConnachie told the Nelson Star. “I’m honoured to have my Dad recognized. He grew up in Nelson on Mill Street and served in the Second World War.”
Lesley Garlow, museum educator at Touchstones, is Haudenosaunee from the Six Nations reserve – the people who invented lacrosse. She discussed the historical and cultural importance of the sport.
“It was really mostly about community,” she said. “We played lacrosse to raise the spirits of the people. I think sport can do the same thing for us today. I know I’ve been saved by sport many times over.”
The exhibit also includes a team jacket and photos from the late 1930s as well as a present-day jersey and photos from the West Kootenay Timberwolves.
Since 2007, Bill McDonnell and his wife Ann have curated the Nelson Sports Museum at the Civic Centre area and at the Nelson and District Community Complex, with memorabilia from hockey, figure skating, lacrosse, baseball, curling and soccer.
Those collections will continue, but now under the umbrella of Touchstones, along with the new addition of a sports collection at the museum, kicked off by the lacrosse exhibit.
Museum archivist J.P. Stienne is enthusiastic about McDonnell’s work being incorporated into the museum.
“To have such an amazing and rich collection really enhances our collection,” he said.
McDonnell, a well-known steward of Nelson’s sports history, spoke at the opening about the importance of sport history in the cultural heritage of the community.
“These two entities are twins, as I see them,” McDonnell said. “The sports community and the arts and culture and heritage community have a lot in common.”
Museum executive director Astrid Heyerdahl agreed.
“It’s about that community connection,” she said, “expanding who we (the museum) are, expanding the reach of our audience and then also helping to preserve the sports legacy in this community.”
McDonnell sees this new inclusion of Nelson’s sports history into the Touchstones museum as an evolutionary one.
“You don’t build museums,” he told the gathering. “They evolve, and you just go along for the beautiful adventure that has to offer.”