Landscape Lost: Forestry and Life in the Duncan River Valley

In the early 1940s, the Forest Service hired Bob Wallace as Lookout man for Bear Creek in the Upper Duncan River Valley. His job included building and maintaining trails and bridges going to the Lookout towers and assisting in the construction, repair and maintenance of the Forest Service boathouses, lookout towers and other buildings. He was to accomplish all of this, while diligently watching for the first hint of smoke from a forest fire. Every year in June, before the fire season, he and Sandy Mason, the lookout man on Lavina Mountain, had the job of blowing snags, sweepers, and driftwood jams on the Upper Duncan River to clear the way for river traffic.

These photographs document the construction of the Bear Lookout and various log buildings in the Duncan River valley, Howser, Lardeau and the Upper Duncan River Valley before the area was flooded following the construction of the Duncan Dam. Bob photographed the SS Moyie at Kaslo and Lardeau, arriving at some of the landings in the area. His collection also includes photos of some of the small boats, boathouses and forestry buildings in the area.

Wallace knew and often photographed many of the pioneers and old-timers of the region, including, Maud Healey, Slim Hatfield, Arvid Tapanilla, Harry Smith, Billy Clark, and Earl Stevens. Homesteaders, trappers, and prospectors, these were the people for whom the Forest Service was often the only symbol of government in a vast region.

Stanley G. Triggs was given the negatives by Bob Wallace in the early 1980s provided that he would make three sets of prints. Two sets were made for Bob, the remaining set and negatives were donated to Touchstones Nelson Museum of Art and History in 1994 and 1996.

The photographs in the gallery are numbered according to the file and negative number from the Stanley Triggs fonds. All images copyright Nelson and District Museum, Archives, Art Gallery and Historical Society (Touchstones Nelson).

The creation of the site has been funded in part by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, University of British Columbia, British Columbia History Digitization Program.