First Nations Baskets at the Langley Centennial Museum
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Introduction

The Langley Centennial Museum commissioned this research to determine the history of a basketry collection known as the "Pearson Collection." The results, now available online, include a history of the collection, biographies of persons involved and an analysis of the basketry.

In 1993, Mrs. Aida Freeman (née Southwell) (1912-2004) donated more than half of her mother's basket collection to the Langley Centennial Museum, and the remainder to the Historic Yale Museum the following year. Her Mother, Mrs. Kathleen Edith Southwell (née Pearson) (1887-1975) lived in North Bend with her husband, a CPR engineer, whom she had married in 1912. Most of the baskets were collected before her husband was transferred to Revelstoke in about 1923, when they purchased a home there.

The portion of the collection in the Historic Yale Museum had already been researched and documented, including biographies of the makers of those baskets. There are certain baskets in the Langley collection which correspond to the Yale collection basket-makers. There are also baskets which correspond to those in the 1938 photos (presented here as a record of two Langley baskets) and for three others housed at the band offices of the Lytton First Nation. We hope that these baskets and photos will be featured in a projected joint exhibit between the Langley and Yale museums and the Lytton First Nation.

When former curator Lisa Codd discovered a Langley basket in the first 1938 photo, it not only sparked a whole new research direction, which uncovered other baskets and 1938 photos, but also attracted the participation of researchers from Langley, Lytton, Yale and Victoria. This research was augmented by research begun by Jennifer Iredale, a Curator for the Heritage Branch of the province of British Columbia, and Irene Bjerky, former President of the Yale & District Historical Society.

Much work and serendipity has contributed to this project, and it is our wish that this can be a source of future research and discovery. Unfortunately, many baskets were burned in a house fire, but five have been located and more may still exist. We hope that some of the baskets in the photos will one-day be found, and that cataloguing the basketry designs now will help with the identification of later discoveries.

Irene Bjerky