Editor, The Times:
One-of-a-kind Wells Gray World Heritage Year has drawn to a close, following the sod-turning by artist/environmentalist Robert Bateman for a brand new research centre in Upper Clearwater.
This useful structure, which will include a dormitory section, is being jockeyed into existence by Dr. Tom Dickinson of Thomson Rivers University, building on earlier endeavours by Friends of Wells Gray.
If you missed the whole thing, or perhaps didn’t attend even one of the informative events from October 2012 to Oct. 2013, I’m truly sorry. Imagine some of Canada’s top thinkers and researchers coming to Wells Gray Park, Upper Clearwater, and Clearwater. It happened, and it happened at our doorstep. Renowned speakers and artists, from locals sharing early history of the area, to scientists including university professors and lecturers, to award winning Canadian authors, spoke on ecological topics and led hikes and expeditions into Wells Gray Park to reveal more about our local resource.
Two treasure hunts, an informative guide available and prizes of $1000 offered for each, have taken families and hikers happily trekking in search of clues.
The idea was the brain child of lichenologist Trevor Goward, famous enough to have a lichen named after him. Ably assisted by Tay Briggs of Wells Gray Outdoor Adventures (and key to maintaining the high standard of service at the Information Centre), it was all part of an effort to both herald in the 75th anniversary of the park next year, and to promote the application for World Heritage status from UNESCO.
Wells Gray Provincial Park is known world-wide by those who study volcanoes, beginning with Dr. Cathy Hickson who wrote her doctoral thesis about its volcanic structure.
Volcanoes can erupt in several different circumstances – all represented within this park in our backyard. Everyone is familiar with the sight of pointed volcanoes spouting lava or ash, so beloved of young scholars for science projects. Magma is also extruded beneath or onto the land; mountains can explode beneath the land, under water, and below solid ice. All these variations have occurred in the past inside our park’s boundaries.
We hope that the time and efforts of devoted enthusiasts like Trevor and Tay will assist in making the park eligible for World Heritage status, perhaps as Canada’s first UNESCO Geo Park. Preparation of the application is a complex and lengthy procedure but if anyone can pull this off it will be those who rose to the recent challenge and succeeded beyond anyone’s imagining.
While my husband John and I were able to attend only a few of the remarkable happenings, we were totally impressed by those we participated in. Concise write-ups in Clearwater Times kept us well informed on what was coming up – and reminded us of all we were missing, or had missed.
Visitors to our area are delighted, even overwhelmed, in seeing the sights. Now a lot more people, many influential in their area of expertise, have been here and surely they will be back, will tell others, and will share, in their own way, what they have seen and learned. Educational and economic spin-offs will surely follow.
We send a huge thank you and hearty congratulations to all who worked tirelessly, including a host of volunteers, to produce these events. Special mention goes to Ellen Ferguson along with her ever-ready coffee urn and goodies, and other members of Upper Clearwater Women’s Institute, Clara Ritcey, naturalist Karena Schmidt, lichenologist Curtis Bjork, Tim Pennell (TNRD representative of this area) for his financial support, the superb presenters, and all others who worked or contributed in any way to make this line-up of remarkable events run smoothly.
No matter what happens with the application to UNESCO, which we support whole-heartedly, Clearwater and its environs will benefit as a result of the success of the efforts of everyone involved in producing and promoting Wells Gray World Heritage Year.
Kay and John Knox