Museum a labour of love for couple

The Chapple Museum opened for the season last Friday with a tea—and a good crowd.
“There was a steady flow of people throughout the day,” said co-curator Bill Clink, who maintains the museum with his wife, Emily.
The museum, situated next door to the post office in downtown Barwick, had many visitors throughout the day, including former reeve Cecil Wilson and his wife, Shirley, who were poring over old photos of relatives.
“We called these people aunts even though they weren’t related, ”she said, gesturing to the photo.
Another visitor Friday was Shirley Brown. “I used to use a slate like this one in school,” she remarked.
Brown also is one of the museum’s many benefactors. “I made this dress and donated this one,” she said, pointing to a dress on a rack and one on the wall from the 1920s.
The size of the building housing the Chapple Museum is deceptive. Upon entering, you’re greeted with exhibits, including the desk and business supplies of the original owners, the Gills.
There also are sections dedicated to the war years, Finland, a dining room, and a kitchen complete with turn-of-the-century appliances. The building seems small but around the left corner, there’s also a library and Victorian parlour.
And the Clinks are not going to rest on their laurels—major plans are in the works to improve the museum.
“We have a lot more municipal items than can be displayed right now,” Emily noted. “We’ll also have a rotating display every six months starting out with trunks and quilts.
“We have plans for a shoe shop, and someone just donated an old claw-foot tub so we might [remodel] a bathroom,” she added.
The museum is able to stay open through the Clinks’ dedication. They also rely on donations, and money raised through spring and fall fundraisers.
The Friends of the Museum currently are selling tickets on a needlepoint picture donated by Lynda Ahrens, which will be raffled off Aug. 10 during Chapple Days.
“We’re hoping to do a wheelchair-access bathroom with the money raised,” said Bill Clink, who’s also the current reeve of Chapple.
“This building was built in 1921, it’s historical in itself,” he added.
Many stories go hand-in-hand with the items on display and the Clinks obviously delight in telling them. A Glasgow clay pipe from the turn-of-the-century, for instance, was found by Wayne Nugent in his garden.
“It was found just across the street,” Bill Clink noted.
“Almost daily someone will bring something in, even if it’s just a [newspaper] clipping,” added Emily.
There also were “a couple of old fellas,” including Bill Stramers, an old sailor who lived in the area and made ships in bottles. “There was a big bottle with a ship in it at the Rainy Lake hotel,” Clink said. “I wonder what ever happened to it?”
“He had a unique take on things and was always inventing things,” echoed Emily Clink.
Her husband chimed in with more tales of the eccentric man and his brother. “They made their house look like it was covered in fish scales with old oil can lids,” he recounted.
The Clinks wanted to photograph him, and went to visit him when he was in his 80s. “He must have been used to climbing around ships,” she said.
“He insisted on being photographed from the roof of his house, and climbed up unassisted.”
Unfortunately, the man passed away before he could see the photographs but some of his work is preserved at the Chapple Museum.
The Victorian parlour has a chair from the pre-1900s. “It came up the Mississippi when people moved from Iowa to the area,” said Bill Clink. “It’s nice to preserve these things.”
“It’s fun, I love doing it,” added his wife.
The museum is open Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. until July, when it will be open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
It will return to weekend hours in September before closing for the winter months.