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The BCMC Archives

The BCMC archives provide a wealth of interesting information about the ecological and social changes in our area. In the last few years, the archives have contributed to a book written by Kathryn Bridge about Phyllis Munday, 3 university graduate theses and several published papers written on such diverse topics as effects of climate change on vegetation and glaciers, risk taking by people and contribution to society by mountain climbers. They have also assisted a museum display by the North Vancouver Museum and Archives (NVMA), where they are now stored, and have featured prominently in the NVMA web-based history of BC mountaineering... Climbing to the Clouds: A People's History of BC Mountaineering.

Exploration

The archives clearly illustrate several themes that have been maintained for 100 years. The first is exploration. One of the objects of the club, as stated in the BCMC Constitution, is “the exploration of the mountains, valleys and ice fields of British Columbia”. Club members headed out into the unknown mountains, pioneering new routes and first ascents throughout the entire province, from Vancouver’s North Shore mountains to the far north Coast Mountains on the B.C.-Alaska border to the northern Rocky Mountains around Fort Nelson. Club members have climbed and explored throughout the world but most of southern Coast Mountains were first climbed by BCMC members.

Study of Natural History

A second theme has been the study of natural history, another object written in the BCMC Constitution. The Vancouver Natural History Society was born from within the club and club members have contributed much to our understanding of the flora, fauna and geology of the province. Some of our members have worked in these fields and have combined this work with their mountaineering. Dick Culbert and Glenn Woodsworth, both geologists, have been two of the foremost explorers of the Coast Mountains, making numerous first ascents on geological survey trips during the 1960’s. Another influential person was Fred Perry, a founding member of the club and an amateur naturalist whose interest in botany ultimately lead to the formation of the Vancouver Natural History Society, but his astute observations of forests lead him to describe ecological zonation in the Coast Mountains, fully 30 years before the world of science described this to the general public. He appears in many photos in the archives and his numerous written articles appear in BCMC publications also in the archives.

Preservation of the Beauties of B.C.s Mountains

A third theme is the preservation of the beauties of B.C.’s mountains, again an object in the BCMC Constitution. Here, the club has left an enduring legacy. Several local provincial parks have been protected to a large extent through the efforts of club members, the first being Garibaldi Park in the 1920’s, and the most recent being Tantalus and Stein Valley parks in the mid-1990’s. Club members have been involved not only in lobbying to get areas protected as parks, but have involved themselves in numerous land use planning processes over the years devoting considerable unsung time, effort and personal dollars to these processes. John Clarke, who has probably explored more of our Coast Mountains than any other person, often alone, together with another club member, Lisa Baile, established the Wilderness Education Program in the 1990’s in order to educate young people about the beauty of the mountains. John was a gifted speaker who visited numerous schools, ultimately being awarded an Order of Canada for his achievements. Some of his articles and photos can also be found in the BCMC archives. Randy Stoltmann, another gifted communicator with a passion for wilderness, also received a B.C. Government Environment award for his efforts. Some of his articles, books, and reports, are also in the BCMC archives.

Assist the Exploration and Preservation of our Mountains

A fourth theme, epitomized by John and Randy, has been the promotion of activities to assist the exploration and preservation of our mountains. Book publishing has featured here, with Dick Culbert’s pioneering mountain climbing guides to the Coast Mountains, and Randy Stoltmann’s hiking guides to big trees, Anders Ourom’s rock climbing guide to the Squamish Chief, and the major southwest B.C. hiking guide - 103 Hikes - together with the club’s financial support to other hiking and climbing guides, being notable contributions. These books can all be found in the BCMC archives.

In addition, the club has been very active in trail construction, building and maintaining numerous hiking trails in the region, some of which, such as the trail from Lions Bay up to the Lions, or the Singing Pass trail in Garibaldi Park, have become extremely popular. One person who stands out here is Paul Binkert, who pioneered the construction of many trails which have opened up large areas to many people. Paul developed some specialized trail building tools, putting his metal sculpting skills to use for this. The archives contain much information about trail building, and Paul.

Immigrants to B.C.

A final theme, not written into the club’s Constitution, but one with which many club members are intimately familiar, is that the activities of the club have allowed many immigrants to B.C. to find a niche, and become involved in and contribute to B.C. society and its development. This underlies much of what can be seen in the archives. Fred Perry, like many of the early club members, emigrated from England. He wandered across North America until finally finding a home here. John Clarke was from Ireland; Randy Stoltmann was from Austria; Paul Binkert was from Germany; our current honorary presidents, Esther & Martin Kafer, who have recently received a community achievement award, were from Switzerland; the two people who have devoted more years to serving on the club executive than any others Les Ford and Michael Feller were both from Australia. Another club member, Joan Ford, from England, was also awarded an Order of Canada for her humanitarian medical work as a doctor. There must be few organizations whose immigrants from overseas have been given so many Canadian social service awards. Not only international immigrants, but also refugees from eastern Canada have found a home here. Preston Tait was from Ontario, trained as a dentist but became a photographer of B.C. mountains, devoting most of his life to teaching others about photography and the beauty of our mountains. Information about all these people is in the archives.

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