COLUMNS: Preserving history

The report commissioned by the BC government to look at the province’s wildfire history

The report commissioned by the BC government to look at the province’s wildfire history from 2003 to 2017 recommends building fireguards around communities.

The Filmon Firestorm Report in 2003 recommended the same thing. Hopefully this time it will happen, but will it be in time for this year?

This latest report says last year’s experience “demonstrated the consequences of ignoring the growing gap” between spending on response versus mitigating the impact of disasters through planning, preparedness and prevention using fireguards.

I wish they could backburn without any smoke.

***

Cariboo Chilcotin residents aren’t, in general, too interested in preserving history. For many years, local historians Dr. John Roberts and Irene Stangoe kept extensive files, documents, photos, newspaper clippings, whatever, and they were always ready to answer questions. There is no shortage of authors, local and otherwise, who tell tales of the area, and many private citizens have scrapbooks, but the public collections aren’t that great.

Both Irene and Dr. John left their extensive collections to the library or the museum, but no one has replaced either of them.

Dr. John started the library collection, and under his watchful eye it was cared for by volunteers. Since he passed on, as far I know, no one has kept things up to date. The library provides space, not staff. The museum acquired its archival collection more or less accidentally, and it hasn’t had the capacity to become a real archives. The move to the Tourisism Discovery Centre hasn’t improved that situation. Ideally, both collections should be in one place with a qualified archivist in charge to keep the collection properly catalogued, easily accessed, and continually updated. Hopefully that might happen when and if a new museum is built. Meantime, bits of history are getting lost. Does anyone care?

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian and book author.

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