Archival Donation: Western Forest Products

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The Canadian Forest History Preservation Project is happy to announce a significant corporate BC-based archival donation. Western Forest Products has made an important archival donation to UBC Rare Books and Special Collections

Online Finding Aid: http://rbscarchives.library.ubc.ca/index.php/western-forest-products-collection

PDF finding Aid: http://rbscarchives.library.ubc.ca/downloads/western-forest-products-collection.pdf

The 2.2 meters of textual records and an enormous pile of bound, hand-drawn and coloured maps represent a mandatory passage point for any researcher seeking insight into forest management on BC’s coast. A collection of air photos was transferred to the UBC Geography Department’s “Geographic Information Centre.”

Peter Kofoed, Krisztina Laszlo and Martin Buchanan contemplating where to begin (Photo by David B).
Peter Kofoed, Krisztina Laszlo and Martin Buchanan contemplating where to begin (Photo by David B).

The bulk of the collection covers the 1950 through 2001 period, though some of it does reach back into the 1930s. The records describe forest operations up and down the entire coast of British Columbia, from Haida Gwaii in the north to Powell River in the south, and Port Alberni on Vancouver Island. The collection reflects the forestry operations and projects undertaken by Western Forest Products and their predecessors. The material covers subjects on tenure, stumpage, silviculture and plans for cutting areas. Beyond the WFP name, the records came from a wide range of predecessor companies, including traces of MacMillan Bloedel, Weyerhaeuser, Canadian Pacific, Canfor (Engelwood Logging Division), British Columbia Forest Products Ltd, Rayonier Canada Limited, Cascadia Forest Products and Pacific Logging.

Gerry Burch makes a close study of some immaculate, hand-coloured atlases (Photo by David B).
Gerry Burch makes a close study of some immaculate, hand-coloured atlases (Photo by David B).

The donation is courtesy of a connection at the March 2014 Kelowna AGM of the Association of BC Forest Professionals. Lisa Perrault of WFP thought that she knew of some material in need of archival protection and time proved her right! In Campbell River, WFP executive assistant Gwen Hamling invited us to create an inventory of the collection so that the company could determine what was still needed for current operations, and what might be donated for future research.

Martin and Peter advise Krisztina on atlas selections (Photo by David B).
Martin and Peter advise Krisztina on atlas selections (Photo by David B).

With an inventory completed, thus began a lengthy discussion with several archives to balance collection integrity, institutional mandates and the financial pressures of transportation. Krisztina Laszlo, archivist with UBC RBSC, made two trips to Campbell River: one to evaluate the material and another to decide how much UBC could accept. She selected this smaller subset of material from a much larger accumulation held in two storage lockers. Her decisions were guided by advice from WFP retirees Peter Kofoed and Martin Buchanan, and Forest History Association of British Columbia member Gerry Burch  and NiCHE flagbearer David B. Later, I joined FHABC past president Stan Chester to transport everything back to UBC.

Jacky Lai, Krisztina Laszlo and Stan Chester unloading the van at UBC (Photo by David B).
Jacky Lai, Krisztina Laszlo and Stan Chester unloading the van at UBC (Photo by David B).

Thank you to WFP for funding hotel accommodations and transportation costs. Also to the Forest History Association of British Columbia for covering additional travel expenses. Of course none of this would have been possible without the collaboration of NiCHE, the Canadian Forest Service, the Forest History Society and the Forest History Association of BC, all of which provided seed money for the Canadian Forest History Preservation Project.

Are you aware of any Canadian forest-related collections in need of an archival home? Please get in touch!

Canadian Forest History Preservation Project Brochure (English).

Canadian Forest History Preservation Project Brochure (French).

 

Artist Dean Lemke's carved high rigger sculpture "Big Mike" silhouette in downtown Campbell River (Photo by David B).
Artist Dean Lemke’s carved high rigger sculpture “Big Mike” silhouette in downtown Campbell River (Photo by David B).

 

 

 

 

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