Vivian ChuiOmineca Express
Walking through his trails, gazing at his woodwork, Vanderhoof’s visitors and residents alike can now view the Nechako River from Peter Rodseth’s park.
The unnamed green space on the north shore of the Nechako River, west of the Burrard Avenue Bridge and across from Riverside Park, will be called “Pete Rodseth Park”, as the District’s council decided last Monday.
“This park really was his initiative, it was his sweat and muscle that made it possible,” said Mayor Gerry Thiessen. “I am so thrilled that the park overlooks his beloved Nechako River.”
Access to the park — freshly named after Vanderhoof’s trail maker — will need an upgrade, said Tom Clement, the District’s Chief Administrative Officer.
“YRB (Yellowhead Road and Bridge) has offered to do this by widening the two paths down to the park and bringing them up to a safer standard.”
Located in the park is one of the many tables Rodseth had built— another of his contributions to the area, his sister Joyce said.
“I remember reading a letter from when he was negotiating with the council,” Joyce said. “He [said he] wasn’t charging them, that was his gift.”
Whenever Rodseth was building a trail, he would build something for people to sit and enjoy, she added.
“He just wanted people to sit there and enjoy the river and look over the bird sanctuary,” Joyce said.
“My brother really was a giver.”
Rodseth’s love for the Nechako Valley is also monumentally conveyed through his 33-foot long and 10-foot high carved wooden mural, which currently hangs in the atrium of Vanderhoof’s Service BC building on Stewart Street.
Consisted of 10 separate panels and depicting life in interior B.C., the two-inch thick mural not only showcases Rodseth’s skill in woodcarving — a craft he studied in a Norwegian valley where his father was born — but it is also “a love song to his passion for the bountiful landscape of British Columbia, its rivers, its rich Native and pioneer history and his love for all of us,” said Vanderhoof resident Craig Hooper.
Hooper worked with Rodseth in BC Forest Service, where building trails in the region were “a collaboration of two men who were obsessed by the spell of trails, of sunlit pathways winding through forests and mountains,” he recounted.
“When you walk on any trail in the whole landscape of our beautiful Nechako country, chances are you’re walking in Peter’s footsteps and seeing the work of his strong hands,” Hooper said.
As Rodseth said to the Omineca Express in 2006 during an interview, he had much to express through wood.
“I have a simplistic view of what our environment, tourism and industries can be here if I am proactive to change. We all need the energy that comes from those around us,” he said. “Dreams of the perfect lover — somewhere out there in deepest, darkest Canada — are real and keep life worthwhile.”