It Was a Haig-Brown Sort of a Weekend!

There were two significant Haig-Brown events this past weekend – one at the Museum at Campbell River and the other at the Haig-Brown Heritage House site.

On September 29, the Museum hosted its annual Haig-Brown lecture with special guest lecturers being all four Haig-Browns themselves – Valerie, Alan, Mary and Celia.  Their talk entitled ‘What We Learned’ was delivered to an audience of over 80 people and marked an unusual occurrence – that is, all four Haig-Browns being together in one place at one time.  Many former friends and acquaintances of the Haig-Browns who attended the lecture had an opportunity to reminisce with them about their fond memories of the family.

Sunday proved to be an equally good day, with high attendance at the Haig-Brown Festival, held every year on World River s Day at the Haig-Brown property.  The Haig-Brown family was there too, and one of the highlights of their weekend was having a portrait painted of their father Roderick by local artist Dan Berkshire, pictured at right, painting in plein air to an appreciative group of onlookers.

Great music was delivered by the Bentwood Boyz (at left) and later by the youthful group Who is Barbosa.  Laverne Henderson, who opened the festival, moved the crowd with her powerful rendition of ‘Oh Canada’ sung in the Kwakwaka’wakw language.

Laverne Henderson


It is hoped that Cynthia Bendickson, who took over organizing the festival this year will return to do so once again.  She was clearly up to the challenge of taking over the reins from Terry Hale, who as festival organizer for several years always did an excellent job.

Cynthia with husband Chris Osborne

Forestry Development Projects Newsletters Donated to Archives

September was a busy month!

With cooler temperatures and shorter days, September is often the month when we return to routine and dabble in those winter pursuits. This year, perhaps a result of our long dry summer, it appears that we were more than ready to catch up on indoor activities. This was certainly the case at the Museum’s Archive Research Centre with researchers working on topics such as environmental property assessments and family history to staff catching up on cataloguing new material. 

One interesting new addition to the archives is a number of FDP (Forestry Development Projects) newsletters from the late 1930’s. As I was cataloguing the newsletters I was once again struck by how often history seems to repeat. Similar to recently announced government work projects, in the 1930’s a number of Forestry Development Projects were undertaken to provide employment undertaking improvement projects throughout B.C.’s parks. Unlike our current downturn though, the “dirty thirties” resulted in vast numbers of homeless and unemployed and the FDP camps included accommodation and meals as well as work. One such camp (FDP Camp 5) was located at Elk Falls Park.

camp-construction-sm2

Full of useful tips and news the newsletters provide an interesting glimpse of these bygone camps. One edition features a full page spread on “officially approved” camp furniture, the style of which bares a resemblance to the park structures in use today. Another features photographs of the recently completed stairway at Elk Falls.

Life in camp wasn’t all work though as reported in one of the newsletters, “Anyhow, Bill, from what I can gather, you fellows around Campbell River are more interested in matrimony than newspapers. The reports which periodically trickle through to our editorial ear claim at least three engagements with marriages in the offing”.

According to the newsletter in February of 1939 local author Roderick Haig-Brown paid a visit to the FDP camps during whichelk-falls-camp-cartoon1 he become familiar with camp conditions. Later Haig-Brown would draw on these experiences when writing “On the Highest Hill” which is set in that time period.

A delightful find these newsletters come to us from the local high school (Carihi). Rather than end up in the re-cycle heap we are grateful that Carihi staff took the time to bring them into the Museum were they can be viewed in our Archives Research Centre.

The Archives Research Centre is open Tues to Fri from 1pm to 4pm. Please see www.memorybc.ca for a complete listing of our archival holdings.