A Life in the Woods - Oral Histories from the West Kootenay Forests

History of the West Kootenay Forest History Project

The lush interior rain forests of the West Kootenay Region of British Columbia have sustained life in the area since time immemorial and continue to do so today. The First Nations, early settlers, developing communities, and more recent industrial and recreational users of today have all benefited from the bounty and beauty of our forests, each in their own way.

In 1989, the West Kootenay Forest History Project was formed to preserve that history and the first task identified was the need to record the memories of those who had lived and worked in the forests, as many of them were in their latter years. Launched in 1990 by Kaslo's Kootenay Lake Archives, the project moved to Nelson's Kootenay Museum Association and Historical Society (now the Nelson and District Museum, Archives, Art Gallery and Historical Society) in 1991.

In 1994, three volumes of transcribed and edited oral history interviews were prepared and published under the title "A Life in the Woods: Oral Histories from the West Kootenay Forest" with the assistance of public and private funders. Volume I was edited by Peter Chapman, author of "Where the Lardeau River Flows," who had conducted many of the interviews, and Volumes II and III by Joel Russ, writer and editor of "Cross-Cut" and other forest-related publications.

The opportunity presented by the Ike Barber Digitization Fund to digitize and present a selection of the transcribed interviews to a larger audience through the internet was seized by the Society in 2008 and our application for funding was successful. In the summer of 2009, Nicole Tremblay, curator of three Virtual Museum of Canada projects for our society to date, undertook the project and brought it to a successful completion.

Thank you to all those who shared their memories by being interviewed, those who recorded, transcribed, edited and selected illustrations for the interviews, and to those who provided encouragement and technological expertise for the digitization of the sixteen interviews now made available on-line.

Shawn Lamb,
Collections Manager/Archivist

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