Log in
  • Home
  • News
  • Front Words with Mark Forsythe

Front Words with Mark Forsythe

5 Jun 2024 2:20 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
An excerpt from the summer edition of British Columbia History magazine.

A giant anvil was a collaboration between artist Maskull Lasserre and George Third & Son, a steel fabrication company that originated as a blacksmith shop in 1910. The photo features the 2018 Canadian Farrier’s Team: (left to right) Adam Degenstie, Matt Findler, Justin Fountain, and Ian Ritchie. Photo: Courtesy Rob Third

1 Heavy Metal
Where do you find a home for a massive anvil home for a massive anvil that weighs in at 14,000 pounds (6,350 kilograms)? The oversized sculpture was created by Squamish-based artist Maskull Lasserre for the Vancouver Biennale 2018–2019 and forged at George Third & Son, in Burnaby. It was an arresting, curious sight when exhibited at False Creek; two violin f-holes that allow ambient sound to reverberate inside the anvil added a touch of whimsy.

The anvil has now been acquired by the BC Farm Museum, in Fort Langley. Director Syd Pickerell thinks the museum is a perfect home for it. “Almost every farm in Western Canada had an anvil. In the beginning when the West was young, every small village had a blacksmith, and in the days before welders, the blacksmith used the forge and the anvil to meld iron together for new equipment and repairs. Soon farmers got their own forges and anvils for use in all sorts of ways.”

The BC Farm Museum wants to make some noise with it too and is applying to have the “World’s Largest Sculptured Anvil” recognized by Guinness World Records. The museum hopes this draws new visitors to its collection of 6,000 farming artifacts. You can’t miss it—the anvil is right beside the front entrance.

Part of the new design plans for the Lytton Chinese History Museum by Cedric Yu of Altforma Architects. Courtesy Lytton Chinese History Museum

2 Rise Again: Lytton Chinese History Museum
It’s been three gruelling years for the people of Lytton who are trying to rebuild lives and their community. They’re still recovering from the trauma of a 2021 firestorm that consumed most of the village and claimed two lives. As of spring 2024, about 20 permits were approved for new homes and businesses, including the Lytton Chinese History Museum.

The museum was wiped out, along with a rare collection of artifacts that told the story of Chinese sacrifice and contributions to life in the Interior: the miners, railway workers, merchants, and farmers. Museum owner Lorna Fandrich is hoping that reconstruction of her fire-safe facility will be finished by late summer, and efforts continue to locate new artifacts.

“We are picking up a lion dance costume, ceremonial drum, and a trunk donated by a family in Vancouver. With the new cantilevered ceiling the lion costume will be a wonderful addition. With over 500 donated artifacts since the fire, the Chinese story will continue to be told.”

The museum may be the first commercial building to reopen since the fire, and Lorna hopes that “it will act as a beacon of hope to all Lytton residents.”

It could be at least two more years before the Lytton Museum and Archives is rebuilt. Richard Forrest, a champion of the museum, died suddenly in late 2023. Artifacts that he had begun collecting are now being stored by the Village of Lytton.

The Hope Station House on its relocation journey orchestrated by Nickel Brothers. Photo: Courtesy Barry Stewart

3 On the Move
Taiko drummers pounded out encouragement as the 1916 Hope Station House was moved to its new location at 919 Water Street at the mouth of the Fraser Canyon.

Slated for demolition by the municipality, this last surviving example of a Class 2 Canadian Northern Railway station (later absorbed by Canadian National Railway) was successfully saved by a grassroots campaign. Now owned by the Tashme Historical Society, the 2,567 square foot station will be restored and transformed into a museum, visitor centre, and restaurant.

Some 8,000 Japanese Canadians crossed its platform during forced removal to internment camps. Of those, 2,644 men, women, and children were sent to Tashme internment camp in the nearby Sunshine Valley.

Ryan Ellan, president of the society, says there is still much work ahead: “We will continue to work alongside our talented heritage architect, Barry McGinn, finalizing the engineering aspects of the project and creating an opportunity for public fundraising. Countless private citizens and organizations have stepped forward to contribute in their own special ways to help make the Hope Station rehabilitation project a success.”

The project is expected to cost another $1.8 million. More information about the Sunshine Valley Tashme Museum can be found on their website:

The maya’xala video is available for viewing on Youtube.
Image: Courtesy Nanwakolas Council

4 Maya’xala: Respect
A visually stunning video produced by the Na̲nwak̲olas Council serves as both a welcome to tourists and a call to tread carefully near important archaeological sites. Once these sites are lost or damaged, they’re gone forever.

Focused on northern Vancouver Island and the southern Central Coast region, the video urges visitors to treat the territory with the same respect—maya’xala—they have for their own backyards. Chief Councillor of the Wei Wai Kum First Nation Christopher Roberts says showing maya’xala, or respect, deepens connections and the experience of visiting their ancestral territories.

Indigenous people have lived on this landscape for up to 14,000 years (possibly longer), and visitors can encounter ancient village sites, clam gardens, rock shelters, and petroglyphs, fish weirs, burial grounds, hunting sites, stone tools, and middens. Visitors are asked to be careful carrying kayaks across clam garden beds or shell beaches; to refrain from cutting trees, building toilets on grave sites, or sharing photos of burial sites on social media. Remnants of industrial logging have also scarred and damaged old village sites.

Produced in association with the Marine Plan Partnership for the North Pacific Coast (MaPP), the lessons in this video apply to traditional territories everywhere in British Columbia. Watch the nine-minute video on the Na̲nwak̲olas Council’s YouTube page:

SV Dorothy in 1897 in Victoria’s Inner Harbour. Photo: Courtesy UBC Archives – Uno Langman Collection

5 Still Sailing
The 30-foot sloop Dorothy is considered the oldest BC-built and registered yacht that still sails. Crafted for W.H. Langley, a clerk at the BC legislature, the sloop was launched in Victoria’s Inner Harbour in 1897 and proceeded to win countless races. Former owner Angus Matthews once said that she “moved like a rocket.”

Fans regard Dorothy as a living memory of BC maritime history. The graceful, sleek vessel has experienced fires and neglect and at one time, was abandoned under a bridge; in 1995 she was donated to the Maritime Museum of BC.

Riddled with dry rot, Dorothy was in serious need of restoration and sat on dry land for 20 years. Over the last decade the yacht has been lovingly restored in the shop of Gabriola Island shipwright Tony Grove, with finishing touches by Ladysmith Maritime Society volunteers. At the time of writing, Dorothy is back in Ladysmith Harbour and has won a restoration award from Classic Boat Magazine for Restored Sailing Vessel of the Year (under 40 feet), presented at the Royal Thames Yacht Club. The Maritime Museum of BC hopes to eventually find dock space back in the home waters of Victoria. •

Mark Forsythe travels through BC and back in time, exploring the unique work of British Columbia Historical Federation members.

British Columbia Historical Federation
PO Box 448, Fort Langley, BC, Canada, V1M 2R7


The Secretariat of the BCHF is located on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish speaking Peoples. 

Follow us on Facebook.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software