Boundary Historical Society goes digital

The society’s 17 published reports are now available online

Submitted by Cher Wyers of the Boundary Historical Society

The Boundary Historical Society (BHS) is moving online with its reports, the organization announced at its Oct. 20 AGM.

Through the persistence of the society’s secretary, Doreen Sorensen, the Okanagan Historical Digitization Project was recently completed by the UBC Archives and can be viewed through the Discover Okanagan Historical Resources website.

“I can’t stress enough the importance of online digitization of the Boundary Historical Society’s Reports and other booklets and materials,” said BHS president Joan Heart, “because they can reach a wider audience, they are preserved even if original paper sources are lost or destroyed, and we are now part of modern day educational access.”

To thank Sorensen for her work on the digitization, as well as for providing excellent direction and communication in her roles organizing events, membership development and historical projects, Heart also presented the devoted volunteer with a Recognition Award at the AGM.

Running over the year that was, Heart conjured highlights of the society’s work for those in attendance. Among the milestones were the brisk sales of publications, including a reprint of Report #17 (on 2018), the Phoenix Cemetery Booklet and the reprint of local author RM Simbrec’s Kettle River Journal. Copies are still available at the Grand Forks & District Public Library.

READ MORE: Boundary historian still hunting for lost stories

On the ground, the Phoenix Cemetery also received its last three grave site cradle fences built by the Boundary Woodworkers’ Guild. The Historical Society has been the Cemetery’s guardian for many years and the dedicated volunteers, including Klaus Bialon and Greenwood resident Al Donnelly, work continuously clearing the encroaching wilderness and washouts from the upper road. Funding was received from RDKB Area D and E’s Cemetery Services in 2017 to restore and upkeep the site.

Members also reflected on memorable encounters with locals over the year, which have added to the society’s depth of knowledge of the Boundary region’s history. One such significant encounter at the Fall Fair was with local resident Barry Brandow Sr., who provided information on the small piece of land formerly the Rideau Rail Siding back in 1901 on the east side of the Gilpin Grasslands Provincial Park. This area is an unmarked public access point to the Kettle River that needs to be recognized for its historical contribution by the railroads that covered the Boundary landscape in the early 1900s. Originally thought to be an ideal stop to load water for the steam engines, plans include a story in the Society’s 18th Report and a possible kiosk project with BC Parks.

“As I pause and consider my second year as President of the Boundary Historical Society, I realize how necessary and important a historical society, with an active and focused Executive, can be in helping descendants, students, teachers, and the public search for meaning in their ancestors’ graves, notations, journals and other research,” Heart said.

“We can provide clues, solutions, and insights into their lives giving meaning and closure or an opening to ask more questions, an insight into places long forgotten, but now unearthed, to delight and contribute to the present day narrative.”

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