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Pemberton Museum hosts 100 years of forestry

Retired BC Forestry Service workers attend celebration weekend, donate photos and equipment to museum



Dozens of retired forestry workers are coming to Pemberton to meet old friends and tell their stories as part of the celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the B.C. Forestry Service.

The Pemberton and District Museum is hosting a weekend of events on Aug. 11 and 12 for up to 100 visitors from the industry. Events include a banquet on Aug. 11, displays, presentations, and walking and driving tours of former forestry sites in the region.

The oldest participants are expected to be well into their 90s with memories of B.C. forestry in the region going back to the 1940s and 50s, said museum curator Niki Madigan.

"We're thrilled. This has been a year in the works," she said. "It's been a real win because it will be the last chapter of the Pemberton history book. There wasn't a lot of information about logging or the Forest Service and it was a big driver of the economy in the area until logging took a decline in the '90s. It was like the time came and left and nothing had been really documented."

The event is one of dozens across the province to mark the centenary of the service, which was founded in 1912. About 70 tickets for the weekend have been sold.

"They register with us and are coming for the weekend," said Madigan. "We will be taking their photos because after the event we are (also) creating a souvenir booklet."

Some of those expected for the weekend had not been back to the Pemberton area since the 1970s.

"The focus is really on the attendees reuniting and socializing with each other," she said.

In the build-up to the weekend, the museum had put out a call for donations of equipment and memorabilia from the logging and forestry era and now had more than enough for their permanent display on forestry, which opened in the museum's Soo Logging Building in July.

"We've received a lot of archival material, photographs, documents, as well as equipment like chainsaws and crosscut saws, blades. We've had a summer student specifically focussed on collection management, and we've been just about keeping up," said Madigan.

"Just yesterday we got another batch of photos. We started the collection after last summer and started doing some digital exhibits of logging- and forestry-related stuff."

Madigan said she has been learning more than she ever knew about forestry in her preparation for the weekend. She said the Squamish Forest District, which covers the vast region from Howe Sound to D'Arcy, has a 1.1 million hectare land base, 40 per cent of which is forest — with 12 per cent of that 40, or 52,800 hectares, considered to be available for harvesting.

"It's a very small percentage of the 1.1 million hectare land base," said Madigan. "I've done a lot of backcountry driving on logging roads, and when you're there it looks like the whole backcountry is clearcut... but what you see is all that was harvested."

This, she said, has made her appreciate more the management of the region by the forestry service. She noted that the Miller Creek Plantation, planted by the service, is 50 years old this year, and the Shadow Lake Interpretive Forest in the Soo Valley between Whistler and Pemberton, a demonstration forest planted by the service for public education, is 21 years old.

"A major activity (for the B.C. Forestry Service) is reforestation and these are two great examples of successes," she said.