Long-time Wilmer Gold photograph steward Al Lundgren speaks to the history and the challenges related to taking care of the massive IWA 1-80 archive

Treasure trove of logging photographs unveiled

Sometimes dangerous, always exciting; the Cowichan Lake area’s history has been well chronicled.

  • May. 23, 2011 5:00 p.m.


Sometimes dangerous, always exciting; the Cowichan Lake area’s history has been well chronicled.

This is, in large part, thanks to the efforts of well-known photographer Wilmer Gold.

His photographs now line the walls of the Kaatza Station Museum’s Bell Tower School building, and were unveiled during a grand opening presentation at last weekend’s Heritage Days celebrations.

“You must go to the museum. You can see it a couple dozen times and still see new things,” Lake Cowichan Heritage Commission chair Pat Weaver said.

From Wilmer Gold’s camera to the International Woodworkers of America 1-80, union archives steward Al Lundgren took attendees on a journey through the photos’ past.

As the home of the first Canadian chapter of the International Woodworkers of America, he said it only makes sense that the photo collection should be at Cowichan Lake.

“The union was essentially born right here,” he said. “Come down to the Kaatza Station Museum and see what all the fuss was about.”

A slide show of Wilmer Gold photos took attendees on a trip around the Cowichan Lake of yesterday, including a glimpse at the hard-working loggers and their work practices.

The collection also includes early photos of the Town of Lake Cowichan’s 100 houses area of town, and various other places around Cowichan Lake that now look drastically different.

The Wilmer Gold collection of archived negatives and various other IWA 1-80 materials have been placed on extended loan, on behalf of Steel Workers Local 1-1937 to the Kaatza Historical Society.

So far, museum curator Barbara Simkins said that she’s registered about 3,000 photographs, which she estimates to be about half of them.

This has taken 300 hours on her part, and 60 hours by Lundgren.

“This collection is amazing,” she said. “It shows the hardships of the men and women before the union.”

For those who missed the grand opening, the photos are still available for viewing at the Kaatza Station Museum, in Lake Cowichan.


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