Message from the President
2017 was a significant year for the Central Okanagan Heritage Society (COHS). While it was Canada’s 150th birthday, it was also the 35th anniversary of the founding of our Society and the 125th anniversary of the building of the Benvou-lin Church in 1892.
Our 2017 highlights were in three areas: programming, maintaining our heritage buildings and organizational development.
Our programming highlighted heritage buildings and sites through Heritage Week, the Benvoulin Heritage Festival, workshops, participation in community events and public tours of Benvoulin Heritage Church and Gardens. The tours were new in 2017. They were created to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Benvoulin Church, the telling the story of the building of the church and the first townsite. We originally planned six tours, but these proved to be very popular especially as a tour and tea afternoon. We ended up giving ten tours. A number of retirement homes attended these events, as did Coral House. We plan to continue the tours in 2018.
In February 2017, COHS received an Award of Outstanding Achievement in Heritage Education and Awareness from Heritage BC, presented at the provincial AGM. This award was recognition of Janice Henry’s successes in heritage programming and education. (Janice was our Executive Director for 11 years until her retirement in October 2016.)
We were able to enhance our buildings through a Canada 150 grant for $22,000 to complete much-needed renovations and upgrades on the Reid Hall kitchen, washrooms and common area. The new Marietta Garden at the Benvoulin site adds to the beauty of the overall site and to the potential for more outdoor events, with costs fully covered through fund-raising. The restoration of the Benvoulin windows was completed in December 2016, a $17,000 project. Heritage Finish-ers (a COHS member and sponsor) donated their time and expertise to restore the original pews, pulpit and woodwork at Benvoulin Church. Other rehabilitation and maintenance of our heritage buildings included rebuilding access covers to the crawlspace areas at Benvoulin Church/Reid Hall and beginning the porch conservation at McIver House.
Finally, our planning and organizational development was improved through the creation of a new Strategic Plan, the work on our Conservation Management Plan for our properties (three phases) and our training and mentoring through the artsVest program. These have improved our overall financial health and assisted in diversifying our revenue streams.
We sincerely thank our members, partners and funders in assisting us to continue to conserve our community’s heritage.