Princeton and District Museum has re-printed a booklet telling the history of Manning Park in celebration of BC Parks hundredth and Manning Parks’ seventieth anniversaries this year. This booklet was first produced in 1991 to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Park which was created in 1941.
Permission to reproduce the book to commemorate BC Parks hundredth anniversary was granted back in September of 2010 by BC Parks representative, Jim Gilliland of Victoria. Gail Ross, a long time BC Parks employee and Manning Park’s first year round interpreter assisted with the approval from Parks. Gail is one of the seven different authors of the short stories in the booklet that tells tales of the park’s long history
The only change in the re-printing has been the cover. The new cover is a photograph taken in 1919 by Hamilton Mack Laing, a notable Canadian Naturalist and artist who spent many years in the area that became Manning Provincial Park. In the photograph are Bert Thomas, Princeton’s first Forest Ranger, his assistant Gus Murchy and Martin Grainger, these three men spent much of their time in the Hope- Princeton mountains. Martin Grainger was the second Chief Forrester of British Columbia and later ran one of Canada’s largest lumber companies, H.R. MacMillan. Grainger was an influential person in the province and he used his connections to campaign to have the area preserved as a park as early as the 1920’s. Other strong support came from the Princeton Board of Trade and according to Joe Hilton, “three old-timers in Princeton, Ed Burr, Bert Irwin and Dr. Caffrey got it going”.
The booklet includes a collection of stories written by a diverse group of people that had a connection to the park in the past.
The first chapter was written by E.C. Manning’s daughter, Helen Manning Akrigg and is a wonderful biography of a very special man who was the Chief Forrester of British Columbia from 1935 till his untimely death in 1941.
The second chapter gives an archaeologist’s overview of the area by Robert Mierendorf who has spent many years discovering the rich heritage of the Northern Cascade mountain range.
The third chapter by Robert Harris talks about the important historical trails within the park along with two of his hand drawn maps which he is famous for.
The fourth chapter titled “Memories” was written by Louise Shaw who took the task of interviewing the likes of Davey Davidson, Joe Hilton, Tom Moore and Charles Velay. These men’s experiences, good or bad, were always exhausting! Their humorous accounts of the early construction of the park are fascinating and priceless.
The fifth chapter told by the first “park engineer”, Ches Lyons, portrays the hardships in the development of Manning Park from it’s inception in 1941 when Parks didn’t even own a vehicle.
The sixth chapter written by Yorke Edwards is called “Some Early Finds and Follies”. Ches tells some funny stories of being the first naturalist to work in Manning Park.
The seventh and final chapter by Gail Ross summarizes what Manning Park has meant to some of the first staff that helped construct such a beautiful and popular provincial park. Gail writes that “few staff who worked at Manning Park can look back at the time they spent there without feeling that it played a significant role in their lives”.
Many thanks to local publisher and printer, Ed Muckle of Grower’s Press who donated much of his time and expertise towards this worthwhile project.
The Museum is selling the booklets as a fundraiser for $10 each. Half of the proceeds will go directly into the restoration of the many heritage trails within Manning Park.