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British Columbia

This new event series dives into West Van’s colorful history

The West Vancouver Historical Society is offering locals a journey through West Vancouver’s past with the warmly welcomed return of their Local Voices program, a history-moving series.

Created in partnership with the West Vancouver Memorial Library, the series includes four talks that explore the history of the region, touching on everything from the environment to the notable names that have called the region home.

“At Local Voices, the first part is a presentation by a community member about an aspect of West Vancouver, and then the rest of the evening is dedicated to audience conversation about their memories and connections to the topic at hand,” said Laura Anderson of West Vancouver Historical Society.

“Our feeling as a historical society is that the more those stories can be told, the better we can understand our history.”

The series starts on February 8th The British Columbia Gold Rush: Multicultural Dream Chasers and the Birth of a Provincea talk by authors and CBC Radio veterans Greg Dickson and Mark Forsythe.

The duo will talk about their book The way of 1858a sprawling history of the gold rush in BC

Its pages highlight John (Navvy Jack) Thomas of West Vancouver, a politician and entrepreneur active in the Barkerville goldfields with mining claims at Jack of Clubs Creek.

Thomas owned many significant local businesses, ran the first on-demand ferry service from Vancouver to Ambleside, and mined and sold a sand and gravel mix that was later used in many concrete foundations of early Vancouver buildings.

After marrying Slawiya, a granddaughter of Chief Kiepelano of the Squamish Nation, Thomas was at the center of one of the earliest domestic relationships between Indigenous people and settlers, and the property he bought for his wife – on the West Vancouver coast – would become The first wedding, church service and post office in the region take place here.

“We’re just beginning to piece this man’s story together, but we thought we were going to start with the gold rush,” Anderson said. “The Gold Rush was a very pivotal time in BC history and we believe the story of John Thomas is as much a part of BC as a whole as is West Vancouver.”

Anderson said the series, which runs through June, will continue to highlight the adventures and achievements of local names, with future editions focusing on the likes of Bill Chapman, head of one of the province’s oldest land survey companies, and Chris Amer. a West Van resident who left the community to become an underwater archaeologist in South Carolina.

What: Local Voices: Local History – The Rush for Gold in British Columbia

When: February 8, doors open at 6:00 p.m., lecture begins at 6:30 p.m

Where from: Welsh Hall of the West Van Memorial Library

Seating must be reserved online through the West Van Library website

Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the Indigenous and Civic Affairs reporter for North Shore News. This reporting cycle is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

[email protected]


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