In 1982, Squamish Estuary Conservation Society (SECS) member Brian Gilles made a successful application to obtain funding from the Summer Canada Community Work Program. Funding was designated for the Squamish Estuary Nature Centre project, created to help increase public awareness of the features and value of the Squamish Estuary. Shane Shemko was hired as manager, with four other local students as team members: Ivanka Kuran, Barbara Billy, Terry Parsons, and Clive Camm.
Office space for the project team was donated by Bob Moloughney and the office was stocked with borrowed equipment.
The students developed and led interpretive nature walks for visitors travelling on the Royal Hudson historic steam train as well as for local residents. They noted that many local people had never visited the Estuary before participating in the walks and had no basic knowledge of the characteristics or importance of an Estuary.
Team members developed pamphlets on the flora and fauna in the Estuary and made a start on pamphlets on history and geography. Weekly articles were submitted to and published in the local newspaper, the Squamish Times.
As part of the project, a permanent structure was designed by SECS Director Len Goldsmith to serve as a meeting place for nature tours and walks as well as to house maps, brochures, and displays. With donations of materials, equipment, knowledge, expertise and labour, the project team built the “trail sign booth” (kiosk) and installed it at the 4th and Vancouver entrance to the Estuary.
Here is how Shane described the large sign housed in the kiosk. “Construction and design of the map face began on the third week of July. Most of the lumber was provided by SECS member Dan Williamson, who delivered it from a correctional institution in Mission that mills lumber. The sign face is four feet by 5 feet, 10 inches and is made of red cedar. The lines on the face are routed into the wood and the grooves are painted colours keyed to a legend. It shows the Squamish Estuary and possible walks in the vicinity. The wood is stained and oiled as well as protected from the weather by a shake roof. The sign posts are yellow cedar. It was erected on August 24th and was the climax of the summer project.”
The sign was refurbished in 2008 by John Buchanan. It was removed several years ago because it was starting to rot and the map was out of date. The sign was kept at a District of Squamish yard until it was retrieved by a Squamish Environment Society (SES) member. Since then it has a place of honour in a member’s yard where it is slowly recycling itself.
Shane completed a report on the project and submitted it to the Fish Culture Department of Malaspina College to fullfilll the requirements of his Fish Culture practicum. The report includes details on the history of development in the Estuary as well as the important fish species found in the Estuary.
Photo above shows John Buchanan repainting the sign.