Who were Burns Lake’s first permanent residents? What local heritage building is allegedly haunted? How did an unknown skier make it to the 1932 Olympic Winter Games or a man many consider the real-life James Bond come to live at Colleymount?
History Matters: stories and photographs from the archives of the Lakes District Museum, the first book published by the Lakes District Museum Society in a half-century, answers these and other questions. It also gives readers a glimpse into the lives of some of the heroes, villains, misfits, and everyday people who have called Burns Lake & District home.
Written by museum society employees, History Matters results from the organization’s efforts to increase awareness of this area’s unique backstory. The society began posting stories and photographs about Burns Lake and surrounding communities on its social media page in 2018. The posts proved so popular that society members decided to publish them in book form.
“History Matters is a compilation of those posts, along with new material and never-before-seen photographs from our archives,” says Lyle Graham, vice-president of the Lakes District Museum Society. “In addition to touching and sometimes humorous tales of life in the Lakes District, readers will encounter thrilling stories of murder, adventure, international intrigue, and even the supernatural.”
“The book’s title reflects our motto, ‘Local History. It Matters,’” adds Michael Riis-Christianson, curator of the Lakes District Museum. “Most Canadian historians focus on the ‘big picture’ events and ignore smaller ones—forgetting that in rural and remote communities, things that may seem insignificant elsewhere can have huge impact. Preserving local history is important because small communities need to understand their past and how they got to the present before they can predict where the future might take them. This book tries, in part, to do that.”
Riis-Christianson wrote most of the stories that appear in History Matters, but the book’s other contributors—Myers Illés, Teaira Bishop, and Summer Robinson—share a connection to the museum. Pat Turkki, whose writing also appears in the book, was the author of Burns Lake & District: A History, and a three-time winner of the MacMillan Bloedel Award for Excellence in Community Journalism.
The Lakes District Museum Society published History Matters with financial assistance from Burns Lake Community Forest Ltd. and the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako. Hardcover and softcover copies are available through the Lakes District Museum, Process 4 Gallery, and FriesenPress. Digital copies can be purchased online from FriesenPress and other established booksellers.