The Reach Gallery Museum Abbotsford

The Reach seeks submissions related to COVID-19 pandemic

Journals, photos and objects will be preserved at Abbotsford gallery

The Reach Gallery Museum is asking for the public to submit stories, photos and objects that document how Abbotsford is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The gallery wants to know: How has your life been affected by COVID-19? Have you been keeping a journal or taking photos during the pandemic? What new skills have you developed in response? What do you think is most important to collect and remember from this historic period?

The stories and material culture collected will “create a legacy of knowledge for the future when we look back at this moment in history,” they say.

The Reach collections preserve the community’s collective history that includes personal recollections and stories, photographs and objects.

Already in The Reach archival collection are the journals of longtime Abbotsford resident Margaret Hutchinson, who recorded her memories of the Spanish Flu of 1918.

Hutchinson’s friend, Phyllis Hill-Tout, succumbed to the Spanish Flu in October 1918, and her memories of the day of the funeral invoke a sense of the loss felt by so many during the pandemic.

“Phyllis Hill-Tout took ill when going to college in Vancouver and came home ill. She died and I was asked to be a pallbearer. I was working in the Royal Bank at that time and Mr. Hill, the Manager, allowed me to go the Hill-Tout home,” her journal states.

“The service was in their big living room. We four girls sat looking down at our friend in her open casket. It was pouring outside. No hearse could be managed so Mr. Parton offered his little pickup truck. We had a long, muddy road to go to the cemetery and we girls traveled in a car right behind the coffin. It was pouring while we stood at the grave.”

Those who have suggestions or material that can be documented about the current pandemic are asked to contact Kris Foulds, curator of historical collections, at

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Phyllis Hill-Tout died in the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. Her story is among those saved in the collections of The Reach Gallery, which is now asking for public submissions about the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo courtesy of The Reach, P711)

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