New history book welcomed by district schools

A book about the damming of the Peace and Columbia Rivers is presented to the school district by the B.C. Hydro Power Pioneers.

B.C. Hydro Power Pioneers Tim Thompson and Shirley Gratton presented Voices From Two Rivers

They were historical Canadian-engineering triumphs of their time.

The damming of the Peace and Columbia Rivers by B.C. Hydro in the 1960s and 1970s are two of the most monumental power-generating stations ever built in Canada.

Modern-day hydro projects in B.C. simply don’t compare to the size and scope of the two dams, recalls Tim Thompson, who retired from B.C. Hydro in 2006 after 34 years of service as an electrician and safety officer.

“We definitely don’t have the mega projects like we used to,” he said.

Following many months of research by author Meg Stanley, the history of the dams has been published in a book called Voices From Two Rivers: Harnessing the Power of the Peace and Columbia.

Stanley authored the book for the B.C. Hydro Power Pioneers, a group of former employees of the Crown energy corporation involved in fundraising and other activities to support local and provincial charities.

“The Power Pioneers have captured an amazing period in the province’s history through a lens that is only theirs to share. They have done a great service by capturing our imagination through these stories and by bringing this book forward for all British Columbians to enjoy at this time, and for all times,” said Bob Elton, president and chief executive officer of B.C. Hydro.

Copies of the 300-page book were presented to the Nechako Lakes School District on Friday, Jan. 11, by Thompson and Shirley Gratton, who are both members of the Power Pioneers.

“We’re very pleased to have received this very valuable resource,” said Superintendent Charlene Seguin.

Numerous people contributed to the making of the book, including First Nations elders, ranchers and construction workers, as well as retired B.C. Hydro employees who helped build the dams.

Some information, illustrations and photographs date back almost 50 years.

“There’s a lot of history to it,” said Thompson.

The book, accompanied by a curriculum, details how the dams overcame enormous challenges, design odds and environmental opposition.

The dams provided tens of thousands of jobs, stimulated trade between Canada and the U.S.S.R., created tremendous benefits for British Columbians and opened up the province to economic development by harnessing epic amounts of renewable energy from the Peace and Columbia Rivers.

“We’re giving this book to secondary schools to give students a better understanding. It shows the history of B.C. Hydro and that water-generation is the cleanest form of electricity available,” said Thompson.

Approximately 4,000 copies of the book will be sold through the Power Pioneers’ website, www.powerpioneers.com.

All proceeds of the sales will be dedicated to the group’s Miracle Million campaign for the B.C. Children’s Hospital.

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