The Original Kilby General Store
The Kilby General Store was officially opened on August 14th, 1906 by Thomas and Eliza Kilby. Their son Acton and his wife Jessie operated the Store from 1922 until 1977. General stores of this era were the centre of their communities, being a place to shop and gather news of the area. This was true of Kilby General Store, which served the people of Harrison Mills and surrounding areas and as far away as Chilliwack.
The General Store Museum
Today at the Kilby General Store Museum, interpreters are dressed in period costuming representing the 1920s when Acton took over operations. The interpreters are available to answer your questions or just to chat about the good old days.
Enjoy a fascinating look at life in early 1900s rural BC and step back into the past at the General Store Museum with its magnificent collection of original store items, and product packaging dating back to the 1920s and 1930s.
Rail Road and Flood Plain
The rail lines that are visible from the front veranda of the store are part of the Canadian Pacific Railway’s main cross-Canada system. Until 1958 passengers stopped here in Harrison Mills, another integral reason the general store was the centre point of this rural community.
Harrison Mills is surrounded on three sides by water thus creating a flood plain. Early photographs, now on display in the museum, clearly show how local builders dealt with the problem. This was done by elevating the buildings and using boardwalks to connect the community. The unique architecture is another highlight of your visit to the Kilby Historic Site.
Post Office at the Kilby General Store Museum
The Post Office was located in the General Store and also used as the family’s business office. It served the community from 1906, when Thomas Kilby became Postmaster, until 1968 when his son Acton retired as Postmaster. The Office was used by Thomas Kilby for his duties as Justice of the Peace and by Acton in his role as Notary Public. Here the men advised the community on business matters.
The Kilby Family Living Area
As with most general stores of the time the family that operated the store lived in the back. This was true of the Kilby’s as well. Fully restored and on exhibit just as it was in the 1920s is the Pantry, Kitchen and Dining area.
Manchester House Hotel
Visitors to the General Store Museum are welcome to head up the creaking staircase to hotel rooms that reveal clues about life in the 1920s. Eliza Kilby opened the Hotel in 1908 and named it after her home town, Manchester, England. For the next two years guests of the Manchester House Hotel included traveling salesmen, railroad crews, farm hands, school teachers, mill hands, store clerks, new settlers and surveyors.
Galleries and Exhibit Rooms
At the top of the stairs is the Neighbourhood Landing with photographs of the Kilby family and objects which belonged to them, as well as the Pretty family. The Hotel floor features the Product Package Gallery, a display of rare tins and consumer packaging from many different decades. The Sitting Room is a hands-on area where you can browse through period books, or work on a jigsaw puzzle. Photographs and mementos of the “People of Harrison Mills” await history enthusiasts and for the curious an exhibit on our neighbouring First Nations.
We have three exhibit rooms in the Hotel that change from time to time. The the Green Room we currently we have a fabulous 1920s Flappers Clothing exhibit with lovely vintage dresses and accessories. In the Blue Room we are featuring an exhibit on Maud Menten. Dr. Maud Lenora Menten (1879-1960) famed for the discovery of the Michaelis-Menten equation, was raised in Harrison Mills, BC and graduated from Chilliwack Secondary School in 1897. She was one of the first few female physicians in Canada, and was the first woman to receive a Medical Doctorate from the University of Toronto in 1911. She held three PhD’s in Medicine, Physiology and Biochemistry respectively, and dedicated her long career to life saving medical research in fields largely dominated by men. She was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in 1998.
In our third exhibit room we have an exhibit in honour of John Green and his extensive research on the elusive Sasquatch. Mr. Green was an important part of the Kilby Museum since the government purchased it from the Kilby family back in 1972 when he formed the Kilby Historical Society. John Green (1927 – 2016) was an author; journalist; owner/publisher of the Agassiz-Harrison Advance newspaper; former Mayor of Harrison Hot Springs; Director of the Fraser Heritage Society; Agassiz Harrison Lion’s member; and one of the world’s foremost researchers of Sasquatch in the world! Come see this remarkable exhibit and the lifetime of research Mr. Green collected.
Visiting the Kilby General Store Museum
We look forward to your visit to the Kilby General Store Museum and sharing this wonderful time period with each of you!