Between 1959 and 1966, the late CBC Radio journalist Imbert Orchard travelled across British Columbia with recording engineer Ian Stephen interviewing nearly a thousand of the province’s pioneers. The resulting collection — 2,700 hours of audiotapes describing both extraordinary events and everyday experiences — is considered by historians to be one of the best sources of primary information about the province. To the general public, however, the tales in these tapes remain virtually unknown.
Combining text, archival photographs and the original sound recordings from the CBC Archives onto three CDs, Voices of British Columbia draws 24 stories from this collection to immerse us in daily life in the early 20th century. You’ll meet Sarah Glassey, a spirited homesteader who carried a rifle and bagged more birds than any man in the Kispiox Valley. You’ll hear Bill LaChance, the sole survivor of the 1910 Glacier Snowslide, describe that tragic avalanche. And you’ll discover how Great Chief Kwah of Fort St. James spared the life of James Douglas, future governor of British Columbia.
By turns sad, contemplative, insightful and funny, these stories reveal as much about the spirit and resilience of people as they do about the history of the province.