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A look back in time

The Squamish Historical Society is looking for your pictures



The Squamish Historical Society wants your photos.

Ok, maybe not your Instagram selfies, but the organization's wish list is pretty broad, spanning from, say, 1888 when the first settlers arrived to last year's Devo set at Live at Squamish (now called the Squamish Valley Music Festival).

"If anyone has photos from 1888, that would be really nice," says Bianca Arnold-Peters, president of the society. "I've seen some books where there are missionaries coming up to the area... But yesterday was history, so if you've got a good photo from yesterday..."

If you follow the organization on Facebook or Twitter you'll know that they currently post one historical image each day, usually in the morning. But recently, they acquired a digitizer to convert photos, slides and negatives into digital images. Now they're hoping to ramp up the project, which will culminate in a book to be published in 2014 as part of the celebrations for Squamish's 100th birthday.

The community's name changed from Newport to Squamish on March 3, 1914 at an Ottawa meeting of the Geographic Board of Canada.

While the historical society has had longtime locals, people with ties to the area or even former residents approach them with photographs, they hope to spread the word that they're actively seeking images and unearth some gems.

"I think photographs are stories," Arnold-Peters says. "They're visual stories. If you go onto our Facebook site, there's one photo from a friend of mine of the swimming pool in Squamish. You're going, 'Wow, I didn't know there was an outdoor swimming pool in Squamish."

Indeed, it turns out there was during the 1980s, behind where the current high school is located. "Every time I receive a photo, every single one is exciting to me," she adds. "It might not be to other people, but to me it's like a window into the past. The one photograph that resonates with everybody is the outdoor pool behind Howe Sound... Recently, for me, seeing Mr. and Mrs. Dent of Dentville and putting a face to what is otherwise a suburb of my community (was exciting). I wouldn't have known they were responsible for a piece of land and the people living on it."

While the organization has had plenty of people approach them with photos, they will also travel to collect the images. Recently, a former resident now living in a care facility in Chilliwack contacted them, for example. "One of the people who's donated streetscape (images), his father-in-law did insurance for the community. Another woman, her grandmother had been around in the community for 80 years," Arnold-Peters says.

Of particular interest are notable community members from years past or pictures of annual events throughout the year, she adds. "When I say 'notable' people know what I mean because of it being a small town," she says. "The Logger Sports festival is coming up in August. They're having their 60th anniversary in a few years. We'd love to have images of that. Test of Metal is also coming up to 18 years."

It might not seem that long ago, but for a relatively young community it all tells part of a larger story. "It was a really tight-knit community here (before the highway was built)," Arnold-Peters says. "There was only a way in by boat. I think there's more of a possibility for a treasure trove out there with such a limited population."

To submit photos or help with the project email info@squamishhistory.ca or leave a message at facebook.com/squamishhistory.