The Nechako Valley Historical society is publishing an exciting book this spring, filled with local stories going back to the 1900s.
The 80-page document doesn’t have a name yet, but the committee managing the text is really thankful about all the community support they have received. It is going to be 11 inches by 17 inches and is along the idea of a scrapbook of stories, said Anne Davidson who is putting the pages together.
“It’s a big book. But the idea is that we want to be able to read it because when we did the first practice run, quite a few people said, ‘oh my god, I can read this. It’s big enough that we can read it.’ So it is basically along the idea of a scrapbook of stories of the settlers, Indigenous people from the past until today,” she said.
Some other contents of this scrapbook will be aerial photos, the sturgeon hatchery, air show, barns, bridges and more. The images will be supported by stories of the time. One of the pages is called ‘Outhouses and the Eaton’s catalogue,’ said Davidson. While looking for material for this section, the committee went out to different farms and took photographs of the old outhouses and talked to the owners about the history of the outhouse on their farms.
The 12-person committee in charge involved the community as much as they could. Some of the pictures have been drawn by students at Nechako Valley Secondary School. With the high school requiring students to interview seniors before they graduate, the committee managed to get those stories in as well.
At this point, the book is being edited by Michelle Roberge of M.R. Concepts. “The nice thing working on this book is that it has been a collaborative project. All these different pieces of stories are coming from people who have lived them. So that has been pretty special,” she said.
The committee has new written material but are also using information from years ago to re-ignite some memories, said Roberge. “So this one has interviews done in the 1980’s about what happened in the 1940’s… There is new text and old text, all kind of mixed in. I think a lot of people are quite happy to be a part of it and give their perspectives of stories and tales… So I hope this will be a history book and playful as well.”
Meanwhile, even though there have been different books written about Vanderhoof in the past, Davidson said, this one will be more interactive.
The funding came from a provincial grant called New Horizons. The Nechako Valley Historical society received $25,000 for publishing, editing, buying tape recorders, printers, laptops and more. But there was one criteria for the book, committee members had to donate their time. “I have put in well over a 1,000 hours already and am not going to get paid a dime. I have been working on it since February, probably three to four hours a day,” said Davidson.
Another criteria for the grant was to involve senior citizens and get them to interact with younger people, she said.
The society will be printing 1500 books and will be selling them for $20 a piece. They plan on having a book launch in spring where they will be putting these books out for sale on a first-come, first-serve basis. The District of Vanderhoof has also pre-bought 306 books for sales in the museum.
“It is a fun book so kids will pick it up and look at it and won’t even realize that it’s history they are learning because it is easy to read. We are doing the thing about the Sturgeon, so they can understand the life cycle of a Sturgeon. We have put things like what the Kenney Dam looked like when it was built and it was a town out there with a school and water towers,” said Davidson.
Both Roberge and Davidson said they are positive the book will be well received by the community and are excited about releasing it in spring.