Time, talent and treasure – the three pillars of giving. Treasures are an important pillar for museums, and the VMM is no exception. The majority of the materials in the VMM collections came to us by way of donation. Often they are from the family member of someone involved in the maritime heritage of the Pacific Northwest or Arctic. We are always grateful for these donations and for the privilege of ensuring that a loved one’s legacy lives on.

Not too long ago we received a donatation we treasure from the family of Patrick George Hunt, a crew member on the St. Roch journey through the Northwest Passage. The donation included photographs and letters and a personal journal that Hunt kept during the voyage.

Hunt’s journal takes the form of letters to his friends and family. It includes personal reflections on the experience and on his fellow crew members as well as drawings of the people and situations he encountered. Many of Hunt’s personal observations are not found in the journals of any of the other crew members.

For example, the St. Roch crew patrolled the north on dogsleds, an activity that captures the imaginations of many visitors to the museum. Patrick Hunt’s journal includes a detailed description of patrols, complete with diagrams showing what he wore and carried on the sled.

The family also generously donated two medals Hunt earned: the RCMP long service medal and the Polar Medal for transiting the Northwest Passage (west to east) in 1940-1942. What makes this donation so special is that Hunt’s personal reflections on the experience contextualize these medals – and the historic voyage of the St. Roch in a way no formal account ever could.

If you would like to see the complete Patrick Hunt journal, contact our archivist and librarian at archives@vanmaritime.com.

If you or someone you know has original materials from the St. Roch crew, we are always looking for these invaluable records. Email the archivist to learn about preserving your important legacy by donating it to the museum.

While you may not have family treasure to donate to the museum, you can still help the VMM preserve the maritime heritage of the Pacific Northwest and Arctic. Cataloguing, digitizing, preserving and sharing these records requires staff and technology and many other resources. Consider making a donation this Giving Tuesday (or any day) to help the VMM continue with our efforts.

The text above was adapted from a feature article by Archivist & Librarian Lea Edgar originally published in The Captain’s Table, the VMM quarterly members newsletter. If you’d like to read the full article, consider becoming a member.