Selkirk College Releases 50th Anniversary Commemorative Book

Journeys Taken: Selkirk College - The First 50 Years is now available for purchase.The commemorative coffee table book’s co-authors Takaia Larsen (left) and Bob Hall (right) opened the first boxes hot off the press last week at the Castlegar Campus loading dock.
Journeys Taken: Selkirk College - The First 50 Years is now available for purchase.The commemorative coffee table book’s co-authors Takaia Larsen (left) and Bob Hall (right) opened the first boxes hot off the press last week at the Castlegar Campus loading dock.

Five decades in the making, a beautiful coffee table book on the history of inspiring post-secondary education in the West Kootenay and Boundary has been released to help mark Selkirk College’s 50th Anniversary.

Journeys Taken: Selkirk College - The First 50 Yearsstarts at the beginning and chronicles the rich history of post-secondary through words, photographs and brilliant design.

Put together by the Selkirk College project team of History Instructor Takaia Larsen, Communications Coordinator Bob Hall and Graphics & Creative Coordinator Marian Lowe, Journeys Taken is a valued addition to the bookshelf.

“The history of Selkirk College is really like holding up a mirror to the history of our region,” says Hall, who joined Larsen and several community contributors in piecing together the history.

“It was the loggers, the miners, the small business owners, the artists, the local politicians and the dreamers who set a course for what we see today. This is the story of bringing accessible post-secondary opportunities to the children of our region’s pioneers and we can see 50 years later that it has worked wonderfully well.”

The 200-page hard cover volume unravels the history of how Selkirk College has helped shape the educational, economic, social and cultural landscape of southeastern British Columbia.

The province’s first rural community college to be created through referendum by the people of the region in 1965, Selkirk College opened its doors to learners in September 1966. After a fittingly unique start at the Bunkhouse Campus on the Celgar mill site for the first semester, the shiny new Castlegar Campus was opened to staff and students in January 1967.

To tell the story how the college evolved over the years, Larsen and Hall spent countless hours in regional archives and interviewing key personalities who played a role in the post-secondary narrative that brought the institution to its 50th anniversary year.

From how the Castlegar lands at the confluence of the Kootenay and Columbia River systems were chosen to the sometimes controversial timeline at Nelson’s Tenth Street Campus to the importance of branching out into centres throughout the region, Journeys Taken is a fascinating look back.

“I have a deep connection to this place having grown up in Castlegar, attending Selkirk College and becoming a local historian,” says Larsen, who has been an instructor at the college since 2006.

“But doing the research for this book gave me an even greater appreciation for the life-changing opportunities Selkirk College has been providing in our area for 50 years. This book tells a story that so many people will enjoy because it is the story of all of us.”

Thanks to the support of several corporate sponsors in the region who came on board to help bolster the 50th Anniversary celebration throughout the last year, all proceeds from the sales of the $40 book will go towards the Selkirk College 50th Anniversary Legacy Fund that aims to raise $50,000 for student awards over the next 50 years.

“This book is a fabulous tribute to those who have helped pave the way for our mission of inspiring lifelong learning, transforming lives through education and serving our communities,” says Selkirk College President Angus Graeme.

“It’s fitting that when people purchase the book that the proceeds will help our future students be part of the next chapters of our history.”

There will be two events to celebrate the release of the book at Touchstones Nelson on May 11 and the Mir Centre for Peace on the Castlegar Campus on May 17. Both events run between 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. with the entire community invited.

The book is for sale at the Castlegar Campus Bookstore and Otter Books in downtown Nelson. You can find out more information about Journeys Taken at: selkirk.ca/journeys-taken.