Conference Guest Speakers


Eileen Delehanty Pearkes explores the connection between landscape, history and the human imagination in a wide variety of literary forms. Born in the United States, educated at Stanford University (B.A., English) and the University of British Columbia (M.A., English), she has been a resident of Canada for 30 years, most of them in the upper Columbia River region, just north of the international boundary. Her books include A River Captured (2016), The Geography of Memory (2002), Heart of a River (2004 & 2015) and The Glass Seed (2007). Many of her essays on mindfulness, landscape and history have been anthologized. In 2014, Eileen curated an exhibit on the history of the Columbia River Treaty in Canada for Touchstones Nelson Museum. The exhibit received the 2015 Canadian Museum Association’s prize for excellence. She writes two popular columns on landscape, water policy and indigenous history for The North Columbia Monthly and the online news website, The Nelson Daily. Eileen recently served as the 2017 Cultural Ambassador for the city of Nelson.

Jennifer Dunkerson has been hired as a Heritage Planner with Heritage BC for the Columbia Basin region and began work at the end of September, 2017. Jennifer has relocated to Nelson following a career in museum management, most recently at the Revelstoke Railway Museum and including Fort Steele Heritage Town. Previous to that, she operated and managed museums and heritage organizations in south-central Ontario. Familiar with the region and with a background as a museum professional, Jennifer brings a unique perspective to the issues and challenges facing museum and heritage organizations specific to the region. As this new position continues to develop and evolve, Jennifer will be engaging in dialogue with many people involved in the heritage sector to assist the Trust in reaching its goals to support heritage, museums and archives.

Tracy Fetters is married to railroad buff, Paul. The couple has been actively involved in a project to acquire, restore and preserve a Canadian Pacific Rail (CPR) snowplow and caboose that were donated to the Village of Nakusp in 2016. Tracy and Paul have enjoyed working with a group of like-minded individuals who value the preservation of history as much as they do. Says Tracy, “It doesn’t matter what your project is, it’s the people behind it. They are the ones who make it all come together.” Tracy and Paul moved to Nakusp five years ago, after spending years of holidays in the area — walking along the boardwalk with their coffees they would often comment on how nice it would be to retire to Nakusp, with its glorious views, friendly people, history and milder climate. Lo and behold, here they are.

Mark Forsythe is the former host of BC Almanac on CBC Radio where he co-authored four books connected to BC history and culture. The most recent, From The West Coast to the Western Front, won the BCHF Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Historical Writing (with Greg Dickson). Mark lives in Fort Langley, volunteers with the Langley Heritage Society and oversees their web page. He is a new council member with the BCHF.

Kyle Kusch has been the archive technician at the Arrow Lakes Historical Society since September 2012. A native of Nakusp, his interests include social geography, historical geography and demography. Kyle holds a Bachelor of Science (Geography) from the University of Calgary and an Master of Arts in Natural Resource and Environmental Sciences (Geography) from the University of Northern British Columbia. In addition to his archival duties, he is currently working on a new series of pictorial history books for the Arrow Lakes Historical Society.

Cameron Leitch is a Registered Professional Forester who was born and grew up in Nakusp. He obtained his Diploma in Forest Technology from Selkirk College in 1979 and Bachelor of Science Degree in Forestry from the University of British Columbia in 1984. He has over 30 years of forestry experience on the coast and interior, in both the private sector and government. Cameron still lives in Nakusp with his wife Leslie.

Tom Lymbery makes chainsaw history fascinating. This avid chainsaw historian has lived all his life at Gray Creek on Kootenay Lake, operating his family’s Gray Creek Store. He has sold and serviced chainsaws for over 60 years, stocking eight or more brands in the boom years of saws. Tom spent time in saw plants in Burnaby, Vancouver and Sweden as well as attending many service schools. He was active in the Southern Interior Loggers Sports Association as an announcer and master judge. Tom is also the author of two books, Tom’s Gray Creek – a Kootenay Lake Memoir Part I and Part II.

John MacFarlane, Director of the website The Nauticapedia Project, is realizing a dream dating back to 1976 to highlight the defining stories of British Columbia’s nautical heritage. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (London U.K.) in 1994. He is the scion of three generations of Pacific coast tug boaters and naval officers. He is a retired Director of the Maritime Museum of British Columbia in Victoria, BC, and is now the Curator Emeritus. John is the author of numerous books and articles on maritime, naval and aviation topics.

Jay-Dell Mah is a former radio and television news reporter for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Toronto. Since retiring from the CBC in the late 1990s, he has made baseball research a prime activity. His web site ( documents semi-professional and amateur baseball in Canada and the northeastern United States from the early 1900s to the mid-1970s. In 2010, Jay-Dell was both inducted into the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame and selected as one of the top 100 most influential figures in baseball in Canada. A native of Lloydminster, Alberta, Jay-Dell is co-author of the book Black Baseball Players in Canada: A Biographical Dictionary, 1881-1960 (McFarland & Company, 2009). He is a member and former webmaster of the Society for American Baseball Research. Jay now lives in Nakusp.

Greg Nesteroff is a director of the Arrow Lakes Historical Society, the Silvery Slocan Historical Society and the Slocan Valley Historical Society. He is an honourary member of the Kootenay Lake and Lardeau Valley historical societies, a member of six other West Kootenay/Boundary historical societies, and a former member of ten more (he’ll renew once they remind him). Greg is working on a biography of Sandon founder John Morgan Harris, as well as a book compiling a weekly newspaper series on local place names. He is an avid collector of Kootenaiana, including postcards, covers, and billheads.

Rosemarie Parent is a founding member, past president and current secretary of the Arrow Lakes Historical Society. She is a long-time resident of Nakusp, having returned here in 1984 with her late husband Milton after 30 years away at the coast. Upon their return, Rosemarie and Milton joined a group of like-minded history advocates, and in December 1984, the Arrow Lakes Historical Society was registered. The Society reopened the local museum and started compiled archival documents that were housed in the Parents’ house and helped Milton write several books of area history, including Circle of Silver, for which he won the 2001 Lieutenant-Governor’s Medal for Historical Writing. Rosemarie has helped run the Archives over the years, and in 1998 helped secure physical space for the Archives when it split from the Museum, before it moved to its current location in the historic Centennial Building.

Bruce Rohn grew up in the fruit-growing community of Renata on Lower Arrow Lake, a town that relied on steamboat service for most of its existence. In the 1960s, Bruce witnessed the end of this way of life when the Columbia River Treaty was ratified and the Arrow Lakes Valley was cleared and flooded. In the early 1980s, Bruce became interested in Arrow Lakes history and began copying old photographs and interviewing old timers from Renata and area. His interest gradually shifted to the sternwheelers and tugs that plied the lakes. He compiled data on the steamboat personnel, shipyards, lumber company tugs and their routes, and all the communities that relied on steamboat travel. He also cataloged most of the local newspapers. Bruce has written many articles on topics such as dredging, tug and sternwheeler captains, hazards of winter travel on the lake, shipyard builders and various lumber companies that dotted the lake.

Marilyn Taylor is the President of the Arrow Lakes Historical Society. She has long been interested in the history of the Arrow Lakes area, and has lived at Galena Bay and Trout Lake, where she met the pioneering Nelson, Marlow and Daney families. Marilyn was the last teacher at Trout Lake before the school closed in 1986. She taught in Revelstoke until retiring to Nakusp in 2006, where she lives with her wife, Frances Ure.

Hal Wright and his friend Steve Anderson started the first Sandon Museum in 1972, when Hal was only 15 years old. As a young boy, he had been inspired by his elderly relatives on trips to their Sandon property, and motivated by the fact that items were being demolished and taken from Sandon in the wake of the 1955 washout. He was determined to preserve what remained of the site. The museum was an instant success, and the Sandon Historical Society was formed in 1979. Over the past 46 years, Hal and his family have worked to stabilize and/or restore the remaining buildings in Sandon, including the 1900 City Hall, the new Sandon Museum building and the Kaslo & Slocan Railway station. Hal acquired steam locomotive #6947, then formed the Silversmith Power and Light Corporation to run the 120-year-old generating station. He also stores a collection of Bill Trolleys that are gradually finding permanent homes in Vancouver.