World-renowned Island outdoor education centre marks 60th anniversary

Strathcona Park Lodge book re-launch celebrates history of landmark wilderness centre

Strathcona Park Lodge and Outdoor Education Centre celebrates its 60th anniversary this year and part of the celebration is the re-launch of a history of the lodge.

Situated on Highway 28 halfway between Campbell River and Gold River, the ‘Lodge,’ as it is affectionately known, began as a cedar log building that floated across from one side of the lake to the other when Upper Campbell Lake was flooded during the 1958 construction of Strathcona Dam.

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A year later, the building landed on the shore of property belonging to Wallace Baikie, that he then sold to his daughter Myrna and her husband Jim Boulding who intended to start a boy’s camp.

The camp idea was abandoned in favour of tourism, but by the early 1970s, the Bouldings had reprised their idea of training in the outdoors. Influenced by such notable conservationists as Roderick Haig-Brown and George Clutesi, they began the long journey of establishing what was to become a world-renowned outdoor education centre.

In time to celebrate the lodge’s 50th anniversary, Myrna wrote and produced a history of the lodge entitled Survival Strathcona Style, Off the Grid and On the Edge.

Now reprinted, with additional colour photos and a new cover, this account of the Bouldings’ pioneering efforts to establish their business in rugged central Vancouver Island while continuing to work as teachers and raise five children, is as entertaining as it is informative.

Interspersed with anecdotes and personal photos from friends, family and staff who passed through the portal of the lodge, and letters and articles that highlight the challenges of developing an unlikely enterprise that survived a multitude of challenges, the lodge story is as unique as its intrepid author and her late husband.

Truly ‘off the grid’ and ‘on the edge,’ the lodge is now operated by Myrna’s son Jamie and his wife Christine Clarke, and continues to spearhead environmental practices and operate as a green business in a splendid wilderness setting.

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Myrna and local historian Catherine Gilbert are hosting a pictorial presentation about the lodge and an opportunity to see the view the new book on Saturday, Oct. 19 from 1 – 3 p.m. at the Campbell River Museum, 470 Island Hwy, Campbell River.

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