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Signs of times past

Business Improvement Association partners with District and Squamish Historical Society to put local history on display

It doesn't take long for newcomers to realize Squamish is much more than a quaint town made for outdoor enthusiasts. There's a rich pioneering history behind what has made the area what it is - and a new project is endeavouring to put that history on display with 24 weatherproof signs posted along Cleveland Avenue and Victoria Street.

This summer, the Downtown Squamish Business Association (DSBIA) introduced the historical signage project to raise awareness about the community's colourful history and preserve the cultural legacy.

"These markers will serve as time-travelling tour guides fully equipped with 'bet ya didn't know' facts and historical quips that will take people back to the cornerstones of the city's development and the historic axiom points of its dynamic and varied past," states a BIA news release.

Former BIA executive director Tina Nowaczewski, who envisioned the project, spoke with enthusiasm over the proposed impact it will have on visitors and the town.

"I'm really excited that this project is coming to fruition," she said. "In the last decade alone, Squamish has experienced much change and historic buildings, together with their quaint charm and propensity to induce nostalgia, have fallen victim to modernization and encroaching development."

Numerous business owners and community members, including the District of Squamish Planners, the Squamish Historical Society (SHS) and the Squamish Public Library, made great contributions to the project, saying it exactly what Squamish needs.

"I'm very grateful for the patient assistance of Leslie Keith, Eric Anderson and Mark Armstrong, whose knowledge of local history and firsthand accounts give this project substance and integrity," said Nowaczewski.

Last summer, the Squamish Historical Society was approached by the BIA to edit the accuracy of their downtown BIA poster copy. Local historians including SHS Board member Lesley Keith and her cousin Mark Armstrong, both of local pioneer stock, reviewed authenticity. The current SHS Executive was given final vet.

"The SHS is thrilled to be working in conjunction with the BIA to preserve, document and showcase the history of downtown Squamish," said SHS president Bianca Peters."In November, as a result of the poster project, the SHS is looking forward to taking the local Squamish Boy Scouts on the downtown poster tour to facilitate them receiving their Canadian Heritage badge."

History buffs can also get a dose of times past when the SHS partners up with the Vancouver Historical Society to air the film Vancouver City Reflections at the Adventure Centre on Saturday (Sept. 26) at 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. The film showcases the earliest known footage of Vancouver shot in 1907 from the front platform of a street car through the streets of downtown Vancouver and the West End. It includes the footage of the same route in 2007 and news items for 1907. Admission is by donation.

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