2010 AWARD OF HONOUR
Courtenay and District Museum
Katherine Capes, a founding member of the Courtenay and District Museum, was one of the first female archaeologists in Canada and was an avid preservationist of both cultural and natural heritage. Born in 1913, her family moved to the Comox Valley in 1922 to settle on the Capes homestead on Cumberland Road. Her father, Geoffrey Capes, owner of Courtenay Builders Supplies, was an avid outdoorsman and encouraged Katherine and her sister Phyllis to become members of the Comox Valley Mountaineering Club.
Katherine lived an extraordinary life and made significant contributions to archaeological study in Canada. In 1949, after serving as a WREN during world war two, she attained a B.A. from UBC and went on to achieve an M.A. in anthropology from the University of Toronto. It remained her lifelong interest.
A reserved, intelligent and humorous woman, Katherine passed away in 2001. Four years earlier Katherine had donated the Capes family home to the Courtenay and District Museum for the purposes of 'preserving the historical value of the homestead for the community' and to 'further the objects and purposes of the Courtenay and District Museum.' Towards this purpose, the museum Board of Directors resolved in 2008 to upgrade the 1700 sq. ft 1930s-style home on seven acres in order to establish a year-round vacation rental that would honour Katherine's wishes, preserve the home and land and provide a long-term revenue stream for the museum.
With assistance from Community Futures and the Comox Valley Community Foundation, the museum embarked upon an eighteen-month upgrade of the Capes house and grounds which included: improvement to perimeter drainage, upgrading of plumbing and electrical, and modernizing of some spaces while reviving original elements. The team working on the project painstakingly restored original windows, floors and cedar and oak paneling and matched new elements, such as the entranceway, with original features of the home. Furnishings were donated by local residents.
In honour of Katherine Capes, this unique destination was named Capes Escape. Although the home has retained original features and hardware, guests also enjoy wireless internet, new appliances and upgraded kitchen and bathroom facilities. The project was completed in the spring of 2009 and Capes Escape has had successful bookings for the past year and achieved a three star rating from B.C. Accommodation.
Today, people from all over the world book into the Capes Escape. The grounds are used by artists, and community groups hold receptions and meetings in the home. Most important, the community is able to see the ripple effect when a generous community contribution benefits everyone.