River of Memory: The Everlasting Columbia
Curated by Bill Layman
Touchstones Nelson is honoured to host the first Canadian stop of this travelling exhibition from May 5 to August 5, 2007. River of Memory: The Everlasting Columbia offers an unprecedented opportunity to see the entire Columbia River in its natural state, flowing from its source in the Canadian Rockies to the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Toured by the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center, this historical photographic survey will visit five Northwest museums over the next two years, including Touchstones Nelson and the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria.
The Columbia River of today bears little resemblance to the river First Nations and settlers knew in the early twentieth century. Between 1933 and 1984, an unparalleled fervor of engineering transformed much of the river into a series of large reservoirs contained by fourteen hydroelectric dams. “While many grieved the loss of the free-flowing river, others embraced a newly tamed waterway that could control floods, irrigate desert lands, and supply electrical power for the growing regions. River of Memory restores an unfettered Columbia through more than sixty historical photographs that capture the river as it once appeared. This extraordinary visual record is complemented with the words of early explorers, surveyors, and naturalists who wrote about specific places along the river and with new words by contemporary Canadian and American writers and poets.” (1 River of Memory, by William Layman, UBC Press: 2006, p. xi). A 150-page catalogue accompanies the exhibition.
River of Memory stakes a timely and significant foothold in a larger discussion on the health of the Columbia River, the cultural well-being of its associated communities, and the future of the Columbia River Treaty. Public programming during the run of the exhibition will include a panel discussion with exhibition curator, Bill Layman, contributing writer to the catalogue and local author, Eileen Delehanty-Pearkes, and Columbia Basin Trust spokesperson, Kindy Gosal on Canadian and US perspectives on the Columbia River (Friday, June 8th, 7-8pm) and a talk presented by Bill Layman on “The Columbia River Through Time: Developing Whole River Understandings” on Saturday, June 9th, 11am to Noon. Touchstones wishes to thank Columbia Power Corporation for their generous sponsorship of this exhibition.