New crop of heritage panels ready to be sown in our communal backyard

A new crop of heritage panels is just about ready to be sown in our communal backyard this year. Rob Buchanan (left), Cathy English, David Walker and Toni Johnston (right) talk about the new heritage panels at an editing session at the Museum on Friday. All four of them have been deeply involved in the creation of the heritage panel network and other works of public art. Johnston and Walker kicked off our most recent local passion for public art by organizing the fabric murals at City Hall and the Workers' Memorial at Centennial Park 10 years ago. David F. Rooney photo

By David F. Rooney

A new crop of heritage panels is just about ready to be sown in our communal backyard this year.

Three new panels have been designed and created by a four-person project team consisting of exhibit designer Rob Buchanan, panel writer Toni Johnston, plasma-cut steel plate designer David Walker and Revelstoke Museum Curator Cathy English who is the project’s historical consultant.”

“We’re still editing them,” Buchanan said when he and the others showed the draft panels to The Current. “But we’re about 90 per cent there.

The new panels highlight three significant parts of our communal history. Two, one commemorating Arrowhead, and the other harkening back to the birth of heli-skiing, will be installed near the new Mark Kingsbury Bridge across the Illecillewaet River in the Greenbelt. This is an appropriate location for them as the new bridge is built on the site of the original railway bed leading to Arrowhead. That spot also provides, for the heli-skiing panel, a clear view of Mount Macpherson which was the destination of the first local heli-skiing flight. Heli-skiing, not to too fine a point on it, was also an industry that the late Mark Kingsbury helped pioneer.

The third panel, focusing on the building of the Big Bend Highway and, later, the Trans-Canada Highway, will be unveiled in Woodenhead Park. That’s a fitting location as not only is it beside the TCH but it is the home of the Woodenhead sculpture, which was carved by Pete Fuoco back in  was a timekeeper and first aid man with a construction crew that was building the western loop of the Big Bend Highway. Woodenhead was carved from the wood of a 1,000-year-old tree as one of the first road safety warning signs in BC. The sign advised speeding motorists “not to be a Woodenhead” and slow down. During the 1960s, when the Trans-Canada Highway opened, Woodenhead was moved to town and became a local heritage artifact. It had, however, so deteriorated by 2005, that the original wood was encased in a painted fibreglass replica and shielded from the elements by a protective roof by the City of Revelstoke.

All three panels will be unveiled later this year. Each one will also bear a distinctive steel plate decorated with a design cut with a plasma torch.

The three new panels will supplement the existing network of heritage panels placed along the River Trail. They commemorated the roles of farming, the railway, First Nations people, hydroelectric power, forestry and steamboats in Revelstoke’s development.

There are two other panels being inaugurated this year — the Tournament of Champions and ski jumping. Both of these have been created by Parks Canada for the new Tournament of Champions memorial at the base of Mount Revelstoke. (Please click here to see images about this new monument) and at the site of the original ski jump on Mount Revelstoke.

Four more panels are envisioned for the future, Cathy English said.

“We’d like to see panels on Front Street, which would focus on the large Chinese population that once existed here, Farwell townsite, the fur trade and the Gold Rush of the 1860s,” she said.

Here are some separate images of the new panels and the plasma cut designs. At the end is a PDF that you can click on to see larger versions  of the three panels as well as the Tournament of Champions and the Ski Jumping panels. Please bear in mind that these panels are still being edited but otherwise, we hope you enjoy them:

This is the panel commemorating our historic links with the long-drowned community of Arrowhead. Image courtesy of Rob Buchanan
Heli-skiing has been a local industry since the early 1960s. Image courtesy of Rob Buchanan
The efforts of engineers and workers to link us with the outside world via, first, the Big Bend Highway in the 1930s and the Trans-Canada Highway in the late 1950s and early '60s, are remembered in this panel. Image courtesy of Rob Buchanan
Until the 1970s, Revelstoke was practically the navel of the ski jumping world and athletes like Nels Nelsen were not only as famous as guys like Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb but had this own collector's cards, too. Image courtesy of Rob Buchanan


The new panel for the Tournament of Champions monument reminds us all of the importance of winter sports in Revelstoke. Image courtesy of Rob Buchanan
This is David Walker's clean and simple design for the plasma-cut plate on the Arrowhead panel. Image courtesy of David Walker
This is David's design for the steel plate at the base of the Heli-skiing panel. Image courtesy of David Walker
This elegant little design for the Big Bend and TCH panel is bound to make any motorist smile. Image courtesy of David Walker

Please click here to view large-format PDF images of each panel