There are boxes stashed with dusty forgotten photos, images of Squamish when its streets were dirt and its bridges wooden.
There are documents and crispy newspaper clippings that speak to the renaming of the community from Newport to Squamish and yellow-tinted maps outlining the new boundary of an amalgamated downtown, Brackendale and Mamquam.
Squamish history buff Eric Andersen is seeking them out. His quest is to piece together Squamish’s history has taken him to archives in North and West Vancouver, to archive libraries in Vancouver and across the Georgia Strait to Victoria.
“It has been quite a job to locate these photos and it hasn’t been done before,” he said, before spouting off a string of fast-hitting Squamish facts and tidbits — the townsite of Squamish, including water mains, was completed in 1914; St. John the Divine Anglican Church celebrates its 100th birthday on July 2013; the community tried to incorporate in 1914, but failed because the First World War diverted attention from the incorporation move.
Andersen’s hunt for Squamish’s past is a part of the Downtown Squamish Business Improvement Association’s (BIA) centennial project. With the foundations set in place following a strategic planning session in October 2011, the BIA’s Viewpoint Committee has plans to build downtown attractions in celebration of Squamish’s 100th birthday in 2014.
One of the projects is to place 10 historical information panels in O’Siyam Pavilion Park. The initiative has been approved by the District of Squamish and now Andersen is working on the stories and photographs for the displays. The panels will be placed in the park for the summer and move to their final home at the West Coast Railway Heritage Park later that winter.
“We have identified all kinds of exciting things in the way of celebrating the centennial,” Andersen said.
But to achieve their goals, Andersen said the association will need the community’s help. The centennial committee is seeking sponsors to cover the remaining 40 per cent of the panel project’s costs.
In the new year, the group plans to go out to other organizations to discuss what the town’s legacy will be to commemorate the big day.
“It is bigger than us. There is more work than we can handle,” Andersen said.
As of last summer, the association has been soliciting community input regarding celebrations, he said. By January, the committee will have a better understanding of how plans will be rolled out. At that point, the committee will advertise a community centennial meeting event, open to the public.
For more information or to sponsor a panel, contact the BIA at (604) 848-9526 or email email@example.com.