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  • 14 Mar 2024 8:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Parks Canada invites BC Historical Federation members to participate in the development of the next management plan for the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site.

     A Parks Canada management plan guides management decisions and actions to protect, present and operate the site for the next ten years and serves as a key accountability document to the public.

    The management plan will also guide the work Parks Canada and the Gulf of Georgia Cannery Society will accomplish together to ensure Canadians and international visitors experience and learn about heritage places and the stories of Canada’s West Coast fishing history.

    Management plans are developed in consultation with Indigenous communities, as well as various partners and stakeholders, and the public. You are invited to join a virtual consultation session to provide feedback on the proposed vision and key strategies for the national historic site’s draft management plan.

    The sessions are as follows:

    • Thursday, April 4, from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
    • Friday April 5, from 10:30 a.m. to noon p.m.
    • Tuesday, April 9, from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
    • Wednesday, April 10, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
    • Friday, April 12, from 10:30 a.m. to noon p.m.
    • Tuesday, April 16, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

    Please indicate if you require any accommodations or assistance to access and equitably participate in these conversations about the future of the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site.

    In addition to group feedback sessions, there are other ways to participate. Public consultation will take place from March 19 to April 19, 2024, and you are welcome to join the conversation using features on the
    online platform, by requesting a consultation package by e-mail or mail, or by contacting Kate Humble directly to schedule a session for your organization:
    meghankate.humble@pc.g.ca or by phone at: 250-661-3781.

  • 13 Mar 2024 9:45 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Would you like to support the work of the BCHF in a small way without attending meetings? We are looking for a volunteer to do some basic banking and administrative tasks on a regular basis, consistently and reliably.

    The role requires approximately 10 hours of work a month. You do not need to become a signing authority or board member, but you would be a welcome addition to the amazing BCHF team. This is ideal for a person who prefers to get involved in small ways with an organization before taking on a larger role.

    Want to learn more? Contact rosa@bchistory.ca

  • 12 Mar 2024 10:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This month will see the official launch, in English, of the digital exhibition The Francophone Ranchers of the BC Interior Plateau, 1860s-1870s.

    It will take place with Société historique francophone de la C.-B. executive director Maurice Guibord at the Museum of Vancouver (Joyce Whaley room), 1100 Chestnut St., Vanier Park, on Friday, March 29 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Admission is free.

    In 2019, the SHFCB received a grant from Digital Museums Canada to launch onsite research in the Cariboo and the Okanagan on the history of Francophones who launched ranches in those regions in the 1860s-'70s, to hold oral history interviews with the descendants of these families, and to create from the results a bilingual digital exhibition available on the website of DMC, in both official languages.

    The eight families that became the focus of the project are, in alphabetical order: Boucherie, Guichon, Isnardy, Lequime, Minnaberriet, Patenaude, Pigeon, and Versepuech. They were not the only Francophones to have established ranches in the BC interior, but they stood out in the research, both in their historical presence during those decades but also in the contributions of their descendants in a wide array of fields.

    The history of these ranches, it must be stressed, is a history of colonization, of the establishment of businesses and industries, then of villages and towns, on lands appropriated from First Nations. Still, you will see how the Indigenous members of these families found their respective places, then as well as more recently, during their historical journeys. It is indeed from these families that SHFCB has been directed to disseminate the facts unearthed during this project.

    Do not miss this launch, presenting the new and sometimes staggering facts that came to light during the project, where mixed-race members triumphed over a succession of difficult paths.

  • 12 Mar 2024 9:59 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Selwyn Blaylock meets in 1942 with representatives of the Workmen’s Cooperative. (Trail Historical Society)

    BCHF board member Ron Verzuh has contributed an entry on industrialist Selwyn Blaylock to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Blaylock was a longtime executive with the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Co. As Verzuh explains, he was a friend to many in Trail, but a stern opponent of trade unions.

    Read the whole thing here.

  • 11 Mar 2024 5:55 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In a little over two months, members of the BCHF will gather in Chilliwack for the annual conference.

    Tickets are being sold online for the one-day event happening on May 4th.

    Tickets are still available for the Awards Dinner, and the AGM and Keynote presentations are free to attend in person or online. The guided cultural road tour with Dr. Si:yémia Albert "Sonny" Mchalsie is sold out and those hoping for a spot can request be added to a waitlist.

    This year’s theme, “Bringing History Home,” reflects the work the sector is doing to tell more complete and accurate histories by giving voice and agency to individuals, communities, and organizations whose voices, stories, belongings, and records have been left out of historical narratives. The theme also reflects the work Indigenous nations and heritage organizations are doing to repatriate and rematriate belongings, ancestors, and treasures from institutions around the world.

    BCHF members and the public are welcome to register to attend the AGM, Keyote presentation and awards dinner. Event details and registration information are available on the conference webpage.

    The conference is sponsored by Johnson Insurance/BelAir Direct.


  • 8 Mar 2024 10:58 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    An excerpt from the Spring 2024 edition of British Columbia History


    Elasmosaur at Courtenay and District Museum and Palaeontology Centre. Photo: Courtenay and District Museum website

    1 Fossil Feat

    Move over Pacific dogwood and Stellar’s jay—make room for a new provincial symbol. A fossilized marine reptile that lived 80 million years ago, when BC was mostly underwater, is now the province’s official fossil emblem. The fossilized remains of an elasmosaur were discovered by Mike Trask and his daughter Heather while exploring the shoreline of the Puntledge River in 1988. The 12-metre-long beast (withvery sharp teeth) now receives visitors at the Courtenay and District Museum and Palaeontology Centre, wherea second specimen, discovered in 2020, is also housed.

    An online vote for an official fossil emblem was launched in 2018 by the province and BC Paleontological Alliance. The Puntledge elasmosaur faced some tough competition that included an ancestor of the Pacific salmon and an ancient crab. Deborah Griffiths, executive director at the museum in Courtenay, says the elasmosaur fossil is a remarkable discovery from BC’s prehistoric past, “and now, as the official provincial fossil, will help spark further interest in BC’s ancient ecosystems, while supporting palaeontological work, STEAM education [Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math] and tourism in this province.”

    Take a selfie with BC’s official fossil during your next visit to Courtenay.

    2 Nature and Conservation
    “The question is not what you look at but what you see.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

    Keeping any volunteer organization alive and relevant is an achievement, so multiple cheers for the Langley Field Naturalists group which has endured and thrived for half a century. To commemorate, the nonprofit has published On The Trail: 50 Years of Engaging with Nature (Hancock House). The decades have been marked by rapid urban expansion and the group has been central to helping save areas like Campbell Valley Regional Park and Brydon Lagoon (a former portage route for Indigenous peoples and, more recently, a sewage lagoon converted into a beloved local pond.)

    The book’s colour photos are complemented by meticulous sketches from the late Glenn Ryder, a citizen naturalist who compiled an estimated 1.4 million field notes of plants and animals in BC and the Yukon. His efforts now form a baseline to measure the effects of climate change. It was Ryder’s call to conserve what is now Campbell Valley Regional Park that drew like-minded conservationists together like a family of determined corvids. On the Trail highlights conservation struggles and victories; habitat restoration efforts; educational campaigns; and field trips in search of bugs, birds, and bats. These are 50 years worth celebrating.

    Learn more about the Langley Field Naturalists Society at langleyfieldnaturalists.org.

    3 Lost Soldier Remembered

    Jack Gin was astonished to learn that a Chinese Canadian kid named Fred Lee volunteered for Canada during the First World War. “As a child who grew up in Canada, educated here, we didn’t hear these stories”, says Jack. So the engineer and entrepreneur went in search of Fred’s story and he created an award-winning documentary in the process.

    Finding Fred Lee is told through Gin’s eyes as he journeys to Lee’s hometown of Kamloops to uncover traces of this forgotten son. Lee was an honour roll student, the son of a pioneer businessman, and he signed up with the Rocky Mountain Rangers (a militia regiment in the Canadian army) at a time when Chinese Canadians couldn’t vote. Most could not hold a traditional job. He left town on the CPR—the railway that his father supplied with timbers and that thousands of Chinese men helped build. Lee survived Vimy with the 47th Battalion but was killed during the battle for Hill 70. Though the hill was captured, 1,877 Canadians lost their lives. He was 21 years old and his remains were never found.

    The documentary takes viewers to a recently commemorated Hill 70 Memorial Park at Lens, France. A walkway emblazoned with maple leafs is named after Fred Lee, who is remembered on a panel dedicated to him. Jack Gin located Fred Lee’s nephew, and the search continues for other family members. The film has screened in Kamloops, at the Canadian War Museum, and at the Asian Film Festival in Vancouver, and it has won the best short documentary award at the International Art Festival in Berlin. Private Fred Lee is no longer forgotten.


    Portrait of E.J. Hughes by Russell Treloar. Courtesy of Shawnigan Lake Museum

    4 Museum Makeover

    It’s been 40 years since the Shawnigan Lake Museum took over the town’s old firehall, and today space is at a premium. There’s no storage area or room for programming and events; staff and volunteers are shoehorned into very limited office space. Executive director Lori Treloar says the museum is a victim of its own success: “The community has donated stories and artifacts over the years and continues to do so … Shawnigan has a big story that needs to be shared!”

    A campaign to expand the facility by approximately 3,000 square feet (278 square metres) was launched in 2016 thanks to a $100,00 donation. Grants and fundraising have generated more than $3 million (most recently a $500,000 grant from BC’s Destination Development Fund). Construction costs spiked following the Covid pandemic and some cuts were necessary, but the project is well underway with a reopening  planned for Canada Day, 2024.

    The E.J. Hughes Gallery will quadruple in size with plans to share more about his life and work at Shawnigan Lake, and it will highlight other significant local artists. A Kinsol Trestle Interpretation Centre will be added, and the larger space will allow more exhibitions and community gatherings. As Lori says, “The expansion project is about future-proofing the museum.”


    Pithouses of Keatley Creek. Courtesy of Greg Dickson

    5 Reading the Landscape

    As you explore BC, keep your eyes peeled for signs of human history etched into hills and valleys. Remnants of the 576-kilometre-long Dewdney Trail that linked Fort Hope with Fort Steele in the East Kootenay can still be accessed in many places. Scramble up the scree beside the Similkameen River near Princeton onto a narrow, flat trail and it’s not hard to imagine miners in pursuit of gold in the 1860s. An old railbed near Royston, on Vancouver Island, whispers mining and logging history as coal, timber, and people were carried by train to the seaport at Union Bay. The Royston to Cumberland Rail Trail is an easy hike beneath the forest canopy.

    Just upstream from Lillooet at Keatley Creek an array of circular depressions radiates across a bench high above the Fraser River. On the traditional territory of the St’át’imc peoples, more than 115 pithouses mark this as one of the largest prehistoric sites in Western Canada. The featured photo was snapped by British Columbia Historical Federation member Greg Dickson. “It was awe-inspiring in its dramatic setting and beauty. An incredible insight into human settlement two thousand years ago.”

    Archaeologist Brian Hayden spent decades studying the site and his book, The Pithouses of Keatley Creek, 2nd ed., can be read at https://tinyurl.com/3s45juy2. Another valuable resource is People of the Middle Fraser Canyon: An Archaeological History, by Anna Marie Prentiss and Ian Kuijt (UBC Press). The nearby Bridge River Indian Band also operates Xwísten Experience Tours and hosts visits to other pithouse sites from June until September. Visit the tour website at https://www.xwistentours.ca. Happy travels, and don’t forget your binoculars.


    Robin Fisher, guest in British Columbia Review’s YouTube interview series. Photo: Courtesy of British Columbia Review

    6 In Their Own Words

    Historian, biographer, and former CBC journalist Trevor Marc Hughes knows how to pose questions that allow authors to tell their stories. Hughes and the British Columbia Review (formerly the Ormsby Review) have launched a YouTube channel that features short, revealing interviews with BC authors—many with connections to BC history.

    First up: Robin Fisher. The British Columbia Historical Federation awarded him the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Historical Writing for his biography Wilson Duff : Coming Back, A Life. Others interviewed in this expanding series include Chilcotin/Cariboo writer Sage Birchwater; Briony Penn, biographer of scientist, naturalist, and educator Ian McTaggart Cowan; and Alan Twigg, who discusses his decades-long quest to put the spotlight on BC authors via BC Bookworld and ABCBookWorld.com. Most interviews can be viewed in 10 minutes or less and just might prompt the viewer to dash out and locate a copy of the authors’ books. Mission accomplished. Visit the British Columbia Review interview series at http://tinyurl.com/2uaprxr8. •

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

  • 8 Mar 2024 10:53 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Silver King mining camp on Toad Mountain, circa 1890s. (Image I-55005 courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives)

    Frances Welwood looks at the intriguing links that exist between Nelson and New Brunswick, involving some of its most prominent early settlers.

    Read more at The Kütne Reader.

  • 6 Mar 2024 9:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Michael Cone looks at the history of an effective but controversial fishing lure with a Kootenay Lake connection.

    Read more at The Kütne Reader.

  • 5 Mar 2024 9:13 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    The big move. (Barry Stewart photo)

    On Feb. 16, the old Hope railway station was moved to a new home on Water Avenue, where it will become the new info centre and museum. While such moves normally take place at night, due to the public interest, a daytime move was arranged. The building, which dates to 1916 and was previously an arts centre, narrowly avoided demolition three years ago. The Tashme Historical Society was key to ensuring it was preserved.

    Read more in The Chilliwack Progress.


  • 4 Mar 2024 11:07 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Museum of Surrey will celebrate International Women’s Day with a free event featuring Canadian Nurses in Wartime. It will presenting a theatrical performance of a poem highlighting women’s contributions in the war. It's on March 9 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Register by phone:  604-592-6956.



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

Information: info@bchistory.ca  


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

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