VIDEO: Happy crowd celebrates the opening of the IWA archive annex at Lake Cowichan’s museum

Steve Hunt (USW), Lorne Scheffer (Forest Co-op), Carolyne Austin (Town of Lake Cowichan), and Terry Inglis (Museum volunteers) cut the ribbon to open the new IWA annex at the Kaatza Station Museum on Saturday, May 18. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Lorne Scheffer talks about the need to keep Lake Cowichan’s labour history alive for future generations. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Steve Hunt, of the United Steelworkers, tells the crowd that it’s a proud day. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
John Mountain explains how a lucky chance saved some of the material now housed in the new annex at Lake Cowichan. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Don Gordon, left, presents a thank-you gift to Terry Inglis, who organized the volunteers who worked on the annex project. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Allan Lundgren is one of the volunteers who have been working on both the Wilmer Gold photo collection and the IWA collection for the archives. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

It’s taken five years but volunteers were delighted to open the IWA annex at the Kaatza Station Museum in Lake Cowichan on Saturday, May 18.

A collection of Kaatza Historical Society stalwarts, politicians, former members of the IWA, and others gathered on a sunny Saturday to celebrate the completion of a job that’s taken a lot of fundraising and physical effort to complete.

The International Woodworkers of America union began at Cowichan Lake with one logging camp and expanded from there until it spread across North America.

Times changed and the forest industry changed and once declining membership saw the IWA join forces with the United Steelworkers, there needed to be a place for the union’s archives, not just the Wilmer Gold photo collection, and the B.C. archives, but the IWA’s national archives as well.

Where better than Lake Cowichan, where it all began?

Speakers Saturday included the historical society’s Pat Foster and Allan Lundgren, plus Lorne Scheffer of the Lake Cowichan Forest Co-op, Steve Hunt of the United Steelworkers, and archivist John Mountain.

After a ribbon cutting, the annex was opened for the public to see where the collection has been housed, to serve as an asset for researchers so that future generations can learn about a special part of the labour history of Lake Cowichan, B.C., and indeed, Canada itself.

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