Kaatza Historical Society president Pat Foster

Forest Co-op generosity fuels expansion

One of the most prized photography collections in the region will soon call Lake Cowichan its permanent home, thanks in large part to

One of the most prized photography collections in the region will soon call Lake Cowichan its permanent home, thanks in large part to a local organization that has donated thousands of dollars to the Kaatza Station Museum and Archive.

Last year the Cowichan Lake Community Forest Co-op announced it would match all private donations to the museum, which is striving to construct a special extension to its current building in order to house the photo collection of Wilmer Gold, who chronicled the logging industry on Vancouver Island beginning in the 1930s. The collection contains approximately 1,000 photographic negatives, which must be preserved through controlled refrigeration techniques not possible at the museum’s current facilities.

“There is none other like it in the world and historians will be blessed as the years go on with this Gold collection. We’re very pleased to support the project,” said Bruce Ingram, chairman of the forest co-op’s finance committee.

On Thursday, Ingram presented a cheque on behalf of his organization to the Kaatza Historical Society for more than $10,000.

Last year the co-op announced it would match all private donations made to the museum’s fund by Dec. 31, 2015. The total amount raised by the museum by this deadline was $11,390.

“We were very impressed with the work done for the preservation of the collection,” said Ingram. “The Cowichan Lake forest co-op board is very pleased to announce that we are going to donate an additional $15,000 to the Kaatza museum society at the full lock-up stage [of construction] to assist with the finishing up of the project.”

Between this additional money, the matched donations and $2,000 given by the co-op last year to help the museum advertise its fundraising initiative, the total contribution from the co-op comes close to half of the approximately $69,000 the museum has raised to date for the new extension, which will also house the International Woodworkers of America photo collection.

Pat Foster, president of the Kaatza Historical Society, said a special sign will be placed outside the extension during construction, thanking the people and groups who made contributions to the project.

“The forest co-op is of course the largest donor to our new addition, so we wanted to indicate our special appreciation,” she said.

“[The donation] has enabled us to go to builders and actually see quotes because we weren’t comfortable doing that until we had enough funds in place to actually finish up to the lockup stage. And now with the extra donation, we’ll be able to finish the inside.”

Foster said she hopes work gets underway later this spring, with all the walls, doors and windows in place by the end of June, and the entire project completed before the end of the year.

Patrick Hrushowy, a consultant to the co-op, said the region’s long history of forestry made supporting the museum and its efforts to preserve the Gold collection a no-brainer.

“The forest industry is what’s made this community,” he said.

“It came together more than 100 years ago and it’s just a solid part of the history and the co-op board decided it was important to officially preserve that history, make it available to future generations.”