This story appeared in the July 6 issue of the Revelstoke View, now available at cafes, hotels and shops around Revelstoke.
There are few more in touch with the booms and busts of the economy than loggers. Local forest operations slowed dramatically following the U.S. housing collapse a few years back. At the same time, Revelstoke’s B.C. Interior Forestry Museum was dealt a similar blow when provincial gaming funding drastically impacted their operating budget.
But like resilient loggers, the museum has picked itself up and redoubled its efforts to move forward.
“We’re not taking a victim stance, we’re taking a survivor stance,” says museum chairperson Brian Sumner. “Which is the tradition of logging … The loggers always manage to come through, and that’s really the approach we’re taking. You get your down cycles, and then you go for it when you get your up cycles.”
The 10-year-old museum is undergoing a transformation.
Over the summer, they’re re-arranging the massive logging machines in their parking lot into a new configuration designed to attract more visitors inside.
They’re also repositioning themselves with lots of new community outreach events.
They’ve also added a new First Foresters exhibit that highlights the role of First Nations forestry history.
The museum is well appointed with a gift shop, educational displays that tell the rich history of logging in the region and displays on forest ecology and management. Sumner says the museum tells the story of modern forestry practices, something visitors now actively seek out. “They’re looking to connect with the environment,” he says.
The museum is full of fascinating logging equipment. They have one of the earliest known snowmobiles and a vast collection of antique chainsaws, many of which still work.
Each of the machines is a visceral reminder that logging is a rough and tough job where danger lurks behind every decision. If find myself holding my limbs a little closer to my body as I take in the displays, subconsciously fearing one of the fearsome giant antique chainsaws might roar to life with a belch of blue smoke.
Museum operations manager Anna Minten says visitors often comment that the museum is a ‘real’ experience, providing them with a connection to the people who helped build Revelstoke. “It adds to the history of Revelstoke,” she says. “Someone this morning, the first thing he said when he came in was, ‘This town ain’t no Whistler. There is a lot of history here,’” Minten says. “Being able to hold onto that and share that with the community and people from around the world is great.”
The museum is located on Highway 23 North, a few kilometres north of Revelstoke, just before the Revelstoke Dam. You can’t miss the sign.