After 100 years of involvement by volunteers maintaining the historic Willingdon Beach Trail, the Forestry Heritage Society, the maintainer for the past 37 years, turned over its few remaining trail maintenance tasks to the City shortly before the trail re-opened late in 2022, following the installation of the wastewater treatment pipe down the centre of the trail.
From time immemorial, Tla’amin people used and maintained the trail (or land very close to it) to get from tiskʷat (the Townsite) to ʔahʔǰumɩχʷ (Willingdon Beach), another Tla’amin village. It was a privilege for us, descendants of the “settler” community, to have carried on this activity.
The current trail was created when a logging railroad was built there in 1910. Shortly after the railroad ceased operation in 1923, volunteers got the ties lifted so the trail could be used as a biking and walking trail to the Townsite from Westview. Various sets of volunteers continued this work until the Forestry Museum Society was formed in 1985 and its members undertook the WB trail work. The Society struck an agreement with Macmillan Bloedel, then the owners of the land, to maintain the trail and use it as a showcase for logging equipment. In addition to installing logging artifacts along the trail, interpretive signs were provided, danger trees felled, culverts dug, branches removed, ditches cleared, garbage removed, and the surface re-gravelled as needed over the years. The Society continued these arrangements through a succession of land owners until the City obtained land title in 2010 as part of Millennium Park.
Since 2010, City Parks took on a steadily increasing set of maintenance tasks for the Trail, to the point where the Forestry Heritage Society did a small part of the work as of 2022. The artifacts along the trail, donated to the community by individuals and companies, now form an integral part of the land and trail.
Major changes to the trail occurred with the installation of the wastewater treatment mainline. All the culverts were removed and replaced wherever needed to handle the new water run-off patterns. Some artifacts and interpretive signs were moved. The time seemed right to turn over the full set of maintenance responsibilities to the City, whose Parks Department does a terrific job of keeping all our parks looking good.
The water treatment contractor did a terrific job of brushing the edges, levelling the trail, improving drainage, resurfacing, and adding mulch on the sides. City Parks is actively doing all the trail maintenance now, one example being repairing two holes in the Boom Boat walking surface in March 2023. Further down the trail. the creek-trestle rails were removed because they were rotting, and temporary safety-fences were installed. We look forward to seeing wooden rails again when resources become available.
From the hundreds of Forestry Museum and Forestry Heritage Society volunteers who participated in the Willingdon Beach Trail development and maintenance activity over the past 37 years: Thank you, Powell River people and businesses, for your support of the historic Willingdon Beach Trail!
And to City Parks: Thank you for your excellent co-management of the trail over the past 12 years, and good luck with having it looked after in the future!
Need further information? Contact Dave Florence, President, PRFHS, 604-413-1224