By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: April. 6, 2012
Driving along Government Road, a visitor’s eye might fixated on the snazzy new Amblepath homes. But those who look closely might also spot a gate, a chained fence, and a small pathway leading to an old house that looks like an ode and an allegory for times and people long gone by.
It’s Lesley Keith’s home, a home full of memories, and the rumblings of history she has yearned to preserve ever since her uncle, Bob Armstrong, handed her 90 pictures of Squamish before the Highway.
Lesley Keith has collected 200 pictures, some from her uncle’s collection, and others from her friends and family, to tell the tale of early Squamish through pictures.
Besides pictures from her own family collection, Jo and Owen Reeve, Ruth Fenton, Mary Thompson, June Halverson, Grace Halvorson, Dot Chapman, and Alex Munro donated the pictures.
The Squamish Valley Before the Highway: A Story of Squamish through photographs will soon be available at Portico Gallery in downtown Squamish.
Like the Judds, the story of Lesley Keith’s family is also the story of Squamish.
Her family was part of those earlies settlers who created this town. Lesley Keith’s grandmother, Minnie Rae, came to Squamish in 1889. Her grandfather, Bob Armstrong, came to Squamish in 1907.
Although Lesley Keith grew up in Chilliwack, where her father, Les Keith, settled down, Lesley has vivid memories of her visits to Squamish.
And she has the pictures.
“My uncle, Bob Armstrong used to give a slide show of the history of Squamish. When he no longer wanted them, I asked him for the slides as I didn’t want them to stay in the community,” she said.
Keith’s pictorial history of Squamish would be a must-buy for history buffs, but it would delight anyone who wants to see the present of Squamish through the prism of its past.
It would also complement the only available history book on Squamish: The Shining Valley of Squamish, by Kevin McLane.
The collection, annotated by Lesley Keith, has some fascinating pictures: A 1905 photo of Cleveland Ave, Bracken Arms Hotel, and the wreckage of burned bridge on Cheakamus River Canyon are some pictures that would enthral anyone with even a passing interest in Squamish.
Keith calls herself an “accidental historian”, but one of her motivation in compiling this book was to create a resource for anyone interested in the history of Squamish.
“It would be a nice if the people new to Squamish would have a look,” she said.
The book is priced at $20, and will be available at Portico Gallery.