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Campbell River Museum firin’ up the ol’ steam donkey

The Museum at Campbell River is getting all ‘steamed up’ this winter!
This photograph, donated by Doug Boardman, shows the steam donkey working at Lull Bay up Knight Inlet, c.1939. Photo CRM19986 Courtesy the Museum at Campbell River.

The Museum at Campbell River is getting all ‘steamed up’ this winter!

On Sunday, Feb. 13, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. the Museum will be firing up its much beloved Steam Donkey. If you haven’t seen a steam donkey at full snort then you haven’t experienced one of the major historic machines of the west coast logging industry

The Steam Donkey has recently been overhauled and is now once again in full working order. We also have a new team of operators for the Donkey. Norm Grant, Gilbert Strebel, Peter Froemgen and Marcel Van Zeeland have taken over the operation of the donkey.

This Empire Steam Donkey was manufactured in 1916. Abandoned in 1948 at the head of Knight Inlet, the donkey was brought to Campbell River and restored in 1988. It was moved to the Museum location in 1994 and first built up full steam on Labour Day in 2004. It is an annual attraction every Labour Day at the Museum.

One feature this February 13th is that the Museum will be offering the community a chance to taste ‘Donkey Boiler Coffee’. Made using the donkey’s boiler, this coffee was a lunch time fixture for the working men in camps. One logger described it this way: “It was good coffee. A man with big feet could walk on it.”

At 1:30 p.m. the operators will demonstrate the series of steam whistle signals used in a logging camp. The signals were used exclusively by engineers on the logging-engines and were intended to alert the working crews of the movement of the donkey, alongside other accidents and events. Come hear an early form of camp communication!

The Museum will also be offering free admission that day. A scavenger hunt for kids will be available in the Galleries. The donkey operators will be available to answer any questions about this amazing machine.

Shake off the winter blues with a ‘Steamin’ Day’ at the Museum!