The Museum is open to the public and staffed by members of the Native Daughter of B.C.
In 1929 the Native Daughters of B.C., Post No.l, heard that the Old Hastings Mill Sawmill, situated at the foot of Dunlevy Street (two blocks east of Main Street) was to be demolished, making way for future development.
A strong committee was formed who approached the Hon. Eric Hamber, who was the owner of the Mill, to save the Hastings Mill Store and have it moved to the foot of Alma Road. Mr. Hamber heartily agreed with the plans and turned over the old store building without any "strings" attached. Proof of ownership was later obtained from Mr. Hamber and is now in safe-keeping.
The Hastings Mill in its heyday in the 1890s. BC Archives: g_05889
Due to the generosity of the pioneers and other interested citizens, enough money was raised to move the building by barge to its present site and the building was officially designated as a museum in January 1932.
Originally the building was called the "Pioneer Museum", in memory of the pioneers, but the name "The Old Hastings Mill Store Museum" was constantly used and "Pioneer Museum" gradually faded away. The Parks Board leased the museum the small area of ground on which the building stands.
The building was built in 1865 and was the last remaining building left after the fire of 1886, when the city was destroyed. On the day of the fire, June 13 1886, the building was used as a hospital and morgue, therefore, this building plays a very important part in the history of Vancouver.
The building houses many artifacts from pioneer days and a large collection of Native artifacts. The main floor of the building is the Museum, the upper floor is a meeting room and lounge. The lower floor is the caretakers' suite.
The museum receives visitors from all over the world and provides conducted tours for school children and other interested groups. The building is wheelchair accessible.
The building is maintained the by admission donations, fund raising events and donations from members and interested parties through the Friends of the Old Hastings Mill Store Society, under which donations can be accepted as income tax deductions. Address: 1575 Alma Street, Vancouver, B.C. V6R 3P3 Tel: 604-734-1212.
The Native Daughters of B.C., Post No.l, Vancouver, B.C., was formed in February 1919. The charter or original members were all from pioneer families in Vancouver.
The Native Daughters of B.C. are registered under the Societies' Act of Victoria, B.C., and have a Constitution & Bylaws and a Ritual for their secret work, similar to the Masonic Order.
They are non-partisan and non-sectarian - in other words - take no active part in religion or politics. Membership qualifications are:- Canadian Citizen, Female over the age of 18 years and bom within the Province of British Columbia.
The "Aims and Objects" of particular interest are the following:- "To perpetuate and cherish the memory of those Pioneers who took part in the early development of the Province of British Columbia and to take an active part in the preservation of historical relics and records of the Province."
Gradually other Posts were formed, for example:- #2 Nanaimo: #3 Victoria: #4 New Westminster: #6 Fort Langley and #7 Ladysmith. Posts were numbered in order of formation. There was a Post #5 at Bella Coola and a Post #8 at Campbell River, but these Posts closed due to lack of members.
The Grand Post of the Native Daughters or Provincial Body was formed in May of 1922 and meets once per year. They took terms from the Old Hudson Bay Posts - such as Post for each individual body and Chief Factor for the President.
In the early years of Post No.l, considerable charitable work was done and donations to worthy causes. As time went on, plans were developed and a lease obtained on property running from Point Grey Road to the water and from Alma Street to the Vancouver Yacht Club, where it was hoped to erect a Club House. In this building it was planned to hold meetings and social functions, also to put in Tennis Courts and bathing facilities.
Some time passed and it was realized the cost would be too great, so it was after this that they obtained the Old Hastings Mill Store and tuned it into a Museum, which they maintain and operate to this day.
Inside the museum you will find an amazing array of artifacts from the early days of Vancouver. There are burnt and twisted knifes, forks and spoons found after the 1886 fire, a hansom cab, native artifacts, and relics of the SS Beaver, the first steam ship on the Pacific coast.