As a safety officer who worked for BC Hydro for 34 years, Tim Thompson is anxious to sit down and read Voices from Two Rivers, a historical account of the early days of his company and two major hydroelectric projects that changed the face of the province.
The 312-page book, written by Meg Stanley of the BC Hydro Power Pioneers, highlights megaprojects built in the 1960s, 70s and 80s to harness the power of the Peace and Columbia rivers. Illustrated with photos, maps and drawings, the book was released this week and copies will be distributed to more than 600 secondary schools in the province.
Thompson was part of that history and the book focuses on work he and tens of thousands of others completed during construction of the W.A.C. Bennett dam and G.M. Shrum generating station on the Peace River west of Hudson's Hope.
"They were interesting days, there were a lot of men in the camp sites, and getting to see the runners come in was a memorable occasion," said Thompson, referring to the huge metal forms imported from the-then Soviet Union, used to make the dam turbines that continue to generate power nearly five decades later.
Stanley interviewed BC Hydro engineers, First Nations elders, ranchers, construction workers and their families for her research.
"I think former employees will enjoy it because it brings back the history, if they were around at that time," said Thompson, president of the Prince George chapter of the Hydro Pioneers. "We wanted students to learn all about the history of Hydro and how the dams and generation of power was created."
One copy of the book has been given to the Prince George Public Library. It is available for sale through the website powerpioneers.com. The book, a project to commemorate the 50th anniversary of BC Hydro, also comes with lesson plans for social studies projects for high school students.
"I see this book of great value for our socials 10 research project we do every year, where we look at different aspects of Canadian history and the development of some of our resources, and this happened right in our backyard," said College Heights secondary school teacher/librarian Corinna Gilbert.
"It has sometimes been difficult to find information for that. This looks like a really great book for that. They do have online lessons to back it up and I'm kind of excited to see what's there and I'll pass it on to our social studies teachers."