Union archive ‘comes home’ to Lake Cowichan

More IWA history is "coming home" to the Lake Cowichan museum.

Museum curator Barbara Simkins announced this week that a memorandum of agreement was signed with the United Steel Workers, who have protected the historic IWA documents and photographs since the amalgamation of IWA Canada and the USW.

The archive arrived by truck at the awardwinning Kaatza Station Museum at Saywell Park in Lake Cowichan on Thursday.

According to Simkins, her museum is "a natural fit for this incredibly important trade union archive. The museum contains displays, photographs, murals and archives pertaining to logging, lumbering, railways, mining, as well as pioneer life."

But it goes well beyond that. The union movement has deep roots in the area.

"The first organized logging operation in B.C. was Lake Logging in 1934 under the banner of the Lumber Workers Industrial Union, the precursor of the IWA. This developed connections between the Cowichan Lake area and the union dating back to those early days," she said.

But the historical windfall does not only mean items from the Cowichan Valley are coming to the museum.

"The IWA Archive is a massive collection of documents and photographs that includes international and Canada-wide forest trade union history with some materials dating back into the very early days of the past century," she said.

Plans are underway to construct an addition onto one of the museum buildings to properly house the new IWA Archive.

"Permission has already been granted by the town council. Architectural plans have been donated from a private source and structural estimates donated from a builder. The museum board has immediate plans to secure funding for the construction of the addition through private donations and grants," Simkins said.

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