A McBride-area sheep farmer/marriage commissioner whose work has documented the lives of the people of the Robson Valley is this year's recipient of the Jeanne Clarke Memorial local history service award.
Marilyn Wheeler, a former elementary/high school teacher who founded the Robson Valley's first kindergarten, wrote Robson Valley Story: A Century of Dreams, an acclaimed historical account of the area since it was settled in the early 20th century. She received the award Sunday evening at the 28th annual awards reception at the Public Library's downtown Bob Harkins branch.
Wheeler's book was first published in 1979 on Sternwheeler Press and both printings sold out. In response to popular demand, Wheeler revised and in 2008 published an updated version of the book, adding stories from longtime residents and including more information she obtained from library and newspaper research.
Wheeler is a founding member of the Valley Museum and Archives Society, and currently serves as chair of the society. She also chairs the Whistlestop Art Gallery and is a board member of the McBride & District Public Library and Robson Valley Arts and Culture Council. She is active in the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George, parks preservation, health care and the local Farmers Institute.
Her accolades go on to include Regional District service, parks preservation, and work in health care and with the Farmers Institute.
The board of trustees of the Prince George Public Library also presented the Jeanne Clarke publication award to Vanderhoof's Good Neighbours Committee, for two of its published works -- Saik’uz and Settlers: A weave of local history and In Sight of Sinkut Mountain: Celebrating diversity in the Nechako Valley.
Saik’uz and Settlers is a series of stories and written memories of the Saik'uz First Nation and the early settlers and Mennonite families who came to Vanderhoof in the early 1900s. It includes the historical accounts of American teachers who came to the area in '60 and '70s.
In Sight of Sinkut Mountain is a book and DVD which detail the lives of the Dakelh First Nation people dating back to the late 1700s, when the first explorers came to the Nechako Valley.
The Jeanne Clarke Memorial Local History Awards have been presented annually since 1985 to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the field of northern B.C. history. They are named after Clarke, a longtime Prince George resident who was a founding member of the local history committee of the Prince George Public Library.
Go to the library’s website at www.lib.pg.bc.ca for more information about the Clarke awards and a list of past recipients.