On Friday, October 16, 2009, Selkirk College celebrated Founders' Day in honour of the individuals who sowed the seeds, laid the corner stones and created our regional college.
Nearly 40 Selkirk College Founders, Founding Retirees, Chartered Students, Retirees and current staff enjoyed an evening which included a wonderful meal by Selkirk Classic Catering, a historical display of Selkirk College memorabilia and speeches from Dr. John Hall (one of the original Founders of Selkirk College) and President Marilyn Luscombe.
Two of the original Founders of Selkirk College, Dr. John Hall, and Mr. Glenn Weatherhead, were at the Founders’ Day event. Lloyd Wilson, son of Founder Lawrence Wilson and one of the college’s Chartered Students, drove all the way from Calgary for the special celebration.
Dr. Hall outlined a brief history of the college’s roots and upbringing. In 1963 he was appointed to the newly formed Steering Committee to investigate the feasibility of developing an institution of higher leaning in the West Kootenay region. Each of the six School Districts in the region appointed two members to the committee—one school board member and one citizen-at-large. Dr. Hall was the “citizen-at-large”.
Many hurdles were encountered and overcome in the early days under the leadership of Jim Gray, from the Trail School Board, and other members of the Steering Committee which included; John Welton and Collin McKenzie from Trail; Mickey Jacobson and Dr. Hall from Castlegar; Elizabeth Wallach, Gordon Sargent and Dick Palmer from Nelson; Dr. Don Perley from Grandforks; Glenn Weatherhead and Lawrence Wilson from Nakusp; and Nancy Baker from Slocan.
“Choosing a site for the college, designing and constructing the buildings, choosing a name for the institution, arranging for the necessary infra-structure of road, power, water and sewage disposal, in addition to developing a curriculum, hiring a Principal, faculty and support staff, were major undertakings of no small magnitude,” explained Dr. Hall. “Liaising with the Provincial government and the Russian people who lived where the Mir Centre for Peace now stands is a story unto itself. At that time, as their family physician, I made house-calls to a family in that communal dwelling. We also had a significant challenge in obtaining the use of the Celgar bunkhouses in which to open our first classes in 1966.”
Time has proven that this experiment in education—the opening of the first Junior College in British Columbia—has been a success. Selkirk College, over the past 43 years, and with the contributions of many quality people in governance, faculty and support staff, has become an internationally recognized institution of learning.
“Because of the hard work and passion these Founders brought to public post-secondary education in the West Kootenay and Boundary regions, tens of thousands of lives have been transformed through learning, and the social, economic and cultural development of our communities has been impacted significantly,” said Luscombe.
A new Founders' Wall, was unveiled by Chair of the Board, Stefan Lehmann and Vice-Chair Bruce Morrison. The wall is made out of oak and is approximately 3.7 m x 0.9 m (12’ x 3’6). It hosts the Founders’ photos and a brief description of what the Founders mean to Selkirk College today. The Founders' Wall Project was coordinated by Corrine Major and Pat Henman and was built by Peter Sherstobitoff. Much of the research for the wall was undertaken by Board Member Darlene Kalawsky.
Other Founders of Selkirk College which are recognized on the wall include; Burt Campbell, Robert (Dick) Palmer, Frank Beinder, Elizabeth Wallach, J.A. (Jim) Gray, J.L. (Lawrence) Wilson, C.S. (Colin) McKenzie, Gordon Sargent, Mickey Jacobson , A. (Albert) W. Hearn, Nancy Baker, R. John Welton, J.E. (Ted) Fletcher, Robert T. (Bob) Waldie, Joseph Kary, S.N. Mitchell, G.F. (full name unknown), and D.A. (Don) Perley.
The Founders’ Wall is located outside of the staff lounge at Selkirk College’s Castlegar Campus and is open to the general public for viewing.
First published on October 24, 2009