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Updated: Nov 19, 2023

By David Spalding

Image by Karl Hamson

PICA PAST (1) Origins of Pender’s Conservancy

Image from David Spalding

It took an email to set me on the trail of Pica Past. An author in the northern part of the gulf islands was embarking on a book on the development of the conservation movement in the Gulf Islands. (What a great idea, I thought). Could I do a telephone interview about my memories of PICA’s early years? (What memories? I wondered). It seemed that other people, more involved and perhaps with better memories than I, were being interviewed, so I decided my early memories were likely to be of of little value. However, it was clearly time to start constructing some sort of outline of PICA history.for its members.

Earlier in 2022 I had participated in a similar project for an Alberta organization (TALES — The Alberta League Encouraging Storytelling) which was making plans to celebrate its 40th anniversary. Although I had been much involved in its early years, I didn’t remember much detail there, either. But when I looked in my files. I realized Andrea and I had started and edited the newsletter for the organization’s first five years. I found a nearly complete set, and from them and the memories they brought up, we were able to reconstruct almost the entire story of the early years of the organization. No-one seems to have done that for PICA?

I said I’d look into it. Andrea and I had certainly been somewhat involved in the early years, but we had by now lived on Pender for more than 30 years, and details of our — and PICA’s — early years were vague in our minds. When in fact was PICA formed? PICA’s present website indicates 1993 as the date of its foundation. That explains why my memories of PICA’s beginnings were so insubstantial. At that time, although nominally resident on Pender, I not only had a full time job in Victoria, but I was busy writing my first solo book, which was published later in that year.

PICA’s minutes and records were the obvious starting point and I ran the first binder to earth in the Hope Bay office. A fat black 3-ring binder contains not only minutes for the first few years, but aerial photos, color photos of activities, correspondence, press cuttings, maps, and reports. There was even a musical score, in which I recognized the song about Medicine Beach that Andrea and I had written and recorded as a fund raiser in 1994.

The first minutes in the file were from May 1992, when, of course, the organization already existed. Another and earlier source was needed, and I found that in the Southern Gulf Islands newspaper published for many years by Christa Grace-Warrick. Pender Library has a file of the Island Tides, and there I found what I needed. There was extensive discussion of conservation issues on Galiano, where a conservancy had been established in 1989. showing what issues were of concern. And I found reports of two meetings on Pender. The first, of some 30 people, was held on Feb 6th, 1982, its object to discuss the “need for more parks and publicly accessible lands on the Penders.” The second meeting was held on May 7th, 1992 and was in fact the founding meeting of PICA. In the following year, 1993, the organization was legally incorporated.

At the request of editor Sue Kronen, I will provide occasional reports for the newsletter on my ongoing exploration of the early history of the society. There is also a lot of unrecorded history in people’s heads, and I will be happy to include reports by other members on their memories of aspects of PICA’s early days. Please send possible contributions to me at

PICA PAST (2) A Lot in Magic Lake

From Island Tides

The turning point in creating PICA was a lot in Magic Lake. Gulf Islands Estates were developed in the 1960s, eventually occupying about 600 acres of land subdivided into mainly half acre lots — not only the largest subdivision on Pender, but at that time the largest in Canada. After somewhat shaky beginnings, the estate became the only substantial area on Pender Island to be served by a water and sewage system. In the mid seventies, its residents formed their own organization, the Magic Lake Property Owners Society, which is responsible for management of these, and other programs of common concern.

Parks in or adjacent to Magic Lake in the early years included Shingle Bay and Thieves Bay, and the tennis courts and disk park. A number of lots had also been designated as park land, though these were not developed beyond the development of trails. Doreen Ball has kindly shared her memories of these events.

“Early in 1992 the community learned that the Magic Lake Estates Local Services (Water and Sewer) Committee intended to sell a beautifully treed 4.67 acre piece of land… at the SW corner of Ketch and Sailor Roads to help defray sewer costs. A public debate began, ending with a referendum vote being sent out to Magic Lake property owners. After much debate, the property was preserved for green space. This one incident was the lightning rod which galvanized concerned residents in Magic Lake to save this green space.”

In June 1992, Peter Kappele reported in the Pender Post about a meeting of 45 Magic Lake Property Owners about the proposed sale. Concern was expressed about increasing population putting strain on public land. Views expressed included:

“With Magic Lake Estates being such a densely populated area and with the recent increase in the number of lots developed, we need to preserve any community land we can, rather than to sell it for development.”

“Capital projects should not be financed through the sale of community land.”

“Once greenspace is sold, it is almost impossible to get it back.”

But by this time, the movement had widened beyond Magic Lake, and the initial steps had been taken towards forming a conservancy for Pender Island.

[Thanks to Doreen Ball and Chuck Harris for sharing of their own and other documents, including Peter Kappele’s article. Other sources include Island Tides and Pender Post files]

PICA PAST (3) Conservancy Launched

From Island Tides May 1992

The first AGM of the Pender Islands Conservancy was reported in the Island Tides on May 7th, 1992, soon after it had happened. Some forty Penderites had met at the Legion, and Steve Wright was in the chair. “The first object of the Conservancy” said the report, “is to ‘preserve, protect, and enhance the quality of the human and natural environment on the Pender Islands. Other purposes for PICA listed in the constitution include research, education, and public participation in land use decision making, the establishment of wilderness preserves, and to own and acquire land ‘and other personal property’ to support these objectives. To summarize, the Conservancy is a research and educational body, and a land trust. To get matters under way, an interim board was appointed for an initial six months. Members listed include Peter Kappele, Sandy Foley, Steve Wright, Lynne Wells, Mary Reher, Andrea and David Spalding, Brent Marsden, Larry Mudrie, Jacquie Main, and Karl Hamson — many of whom are still active Pender residents. No minutes seem to have have survived of this meeting

The first set of minutes to remain are from a meeting on 19th May. There is no list of attendees and anyone referred to is by first name only, but most can be tracked from those appointed at the eaarlier meeting. It is not always possible to determine whether items are reported as done, or suggestions for future activity, but there is a definite imprssion of an active and enthisiastic board. . A draft constitution and possible changes were discussed (I remember working on that). A list of membership fees was established, ranging from $5 for under sixteens to $1000 life membership. Possibilities were discussed for Pender Post articles, to be written by Peter [Kappele?]. Doreen Ball joined Jackie on the fundraising committee. The education committee reported on possible ways to bring the organization to the attention of potential members, and a contest for a logo was suggested. Yo Timmermans and Andrea were involved in setting up library resources. Brent [Marsden] suggested purchasing Magic Lake lots (presumably as a fund raising venture.) It might have done rather well.

Based on the discussions, Pender Post articles should have been starting up around this time. I have not been able to search the PP files, but there will be additional data there. Anyone interested in following that up, or having photos from these period, please get in touch.

PICA PAST (4) Finding a Focus

The minutes of the Meeting of May 31, 1992, continue the story of the new organization. Still informal, there is no list of members present or otherwise involved, and some of those mentioned are only by first names. The primary agenda was clearly to explore some possible properties that may be of interest as reserves, and from reports it is clear that preliminary discussions had already taken place on one or two.

Site 6 was the first to be discussed. This was a then undeveloped area beyond the much shorter Hooson Road of the time. A meandering logging trail was then a favourite pathway into the area, dominated by the striking point of dome of Bald Cone, with its spectacular view over Plumper Sound. Some of the area was thought to be Crown land, Bob Allison and Bob George had spoken to a real estate company that was looking at subdividing the private property.

The “Mander Property” (“across from McDonald Farm” but not otherwise identified) was former farmland that had regrown. It was for sale, and currently being shown to a potential purchaser. There was some interest in acquiring it.

Allan Brooks was considering selling his property at Brooks Point. Allan was son of a well known naturalist and bird artist of the same name, and he and his family were at that time living on South Pender. Well before the conservancy was formed, Andrea and I met them, and were shown the delights of Brooks Point at lower tide early one morning — I particularly remember our first encounter with the Gumboot Chiton. I also remember Allan standing on the rocks above the water, and with a wave of his arms, saying “I’d love to see this area as a park.” At the meeting it was reported that Allan had read about the conservancy, and had ten acres he would be willing to sell below assessed value.

Andrea [Spalding] spoke of Roe Island being preserved. This lovely feature was on the west coast of Pender, opposite Otter Bay, and formed part of an early camping development. We had been introduced to this lovely spot by former visitors, who were now our neighbours on Pender. They introduced us to the Davidsons, who then owned the closed camp they had run for many years. They were very welcoming to us, and invited us to explore the point any time we wished — and to drop in for tea.

[I’ll finish with a 2023 perspective on this ambitious agenda. Bald Cone and Site 6 were lost to property development, but there are now conservancy and parklands in that area. I have no further information on the Mander Property. Brooks Point was acquired by the Conservancy and allies in later years. Andrea’s active promotion through a chance meeting on the ferry got Roe Islet on to the agenda of a later Federal/Provincial land acquisition program, and it is now part of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. The oddest feature of the meeting is that there is no mention of Medicine Beach (which became our first acquisition), but at that time there was apparently no threat to its survival.]

Thanks to readers for their appreciation of this column, and for photos and comments that are coming in. I’ll try and make use of these in the appropriate place in the story, so that we can stay close to a chronological sequence.

PICA PAST (5): Anniversaries


This year, 2023, PICA is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its incorporation, the process by which a non-profit organization is registered with the Government. I do not have access to the original incorporation certificate, but according to later ones the date of incorporation was Jan 18th, 1993. The files do contain a list of Directors from 1992 Oct to April 1993. We should celebrate the initial team (whose names should be on the incorporation document) comprising:

Steve Wright - Coordinator

Brent Marsden - membership

Lynne Wells -secretary

Karl Hamson - treasurer

Jacquie Main - (constitutional committee).

Mary Reher - Co-ordinator

Another half dozen members are recorded as members of various committees during this period; Andrea & David Spalding, Larry Mudrie, Sandy Foley, Peter Kappelle, and Cindy Bratt. It’s great that most of these folks are still living on the island!

Medicine Beach - Our First Reserve

Image by Carl Hamson

Since we are celebrating PICA achievements, it’s appropriate to leap ahead to the establishment of Medicine Beach as our first nature reserve. An earlier story received feedback from Karl Hamson in the form of this photograph. His comments describe the occasion: “Pender Island Conservancy on a group hike to Medicine Beach upland 1994. It was here and then that I announced that a deal had been struck to buy the entire 20 acres. Everyone pitched in and we completed on April 1995.” Thanks Karl.

Now, for a little interaction. Andrea and I (David) are on the extreme right. Are you in this photograph? Do you recognize anyone else? If so, please send a note of who and where you (or others) are? This was a pretty special occasion, and it would be nice to identify at least some of the group.

PICA PAST (6) Organization, Promotion and Fundraising

Image by David Spalding

In June 16, 1992, five board members gathered: Jacquie Main, Mary Reher, Lynne Wells, Brent Marsden, and Steve Wright. The meeting dealt with membership approval of the constitution, which was to be printed and distributed to all the members. A revised pamphlet was being prepared by Patrick Brown and Pamela Brooks, surveying the membership, and advising about dues and the organization. Real estate offices were also being approached to distribute the information, presumably to new islanders in search of property.

Fundraising was also under discussion, but there is no indication in the minutes if a particularly site was being targeted, or if this was just to get the ball rolling. Ideas were being put forward — an August auction at Hope Bay store was projected, also possible walks for which box lunches would be auctioned; and a membership table at the Farmers’s Market.

Two further upcoming meetings were mentioned for the same month; one on 25th for further fundraising discussions, and one on 29th to discuss crown land and approaches to land acquisition.

Unfortunately, the minute book contains no minutes for the next twelve months. I wonder if they are still sitting in a box somewhere on someone’s shelf. (If you have served on PICA’s board at some point, it might be worth checking to see if you still have some papers that would fill a gap in the files?)

I turned to the Island Tides to see if missing meetings were reported there. Again, there are no reports on PICA activities. Not that the IT was not reporting on conservancy matters: but the paper served all the Southern Gulf Islands, and the excitement on the environmental desk at this period was on Galiano.

This island was the first to develop an active society, largely as a result of a complex situation that had developed between various levels of government, and the logging company MacMillan Bloedel(MacBlo), which was active on much of the island. Meetings, petitions, and discussions had addressed many of the issues, notably the disputed rights of MacBlo to convert forest held for logging into real estate for sale to would be-island dwellers. in 1992 the whole thing blew up with a dispute in the courts, in which MacBlo chose to sue individual directors of the Galiano Conservancy as well as the government and non profit agencies involved. This process was then known as a SLAPP suit, with the alleged intention of scaring off directors of non profits from interfering with the activities of big business.

Though not directly involving Pender, PICA directors must have read these news stories with alarm, wondering if a similar fate might be in store for them if PICA got in the way of the profits of big companies. However, it is clear that fund raising was nevertheless a priority, and it looks as if most attention was to be devoted to the promised auction, as the fledgling organization decided to see if it was practicable to raise significant funds to support acquisition of land for conservation.

I’m pulling together what information I have, and hope to tell something of the story of the great PICA auction next month.

PICA PAST (7) Time, Talent, and Treasure: A Fundraising Auction

From PIC archives

On Sunday August 2nd, 1992 PICA held an auction to raise funds for conservation.

I am indebted to Doreen Ball for an account of the auction, which was first published on the Facebook Forum in September 2022.

“Seed money was needed and the idea of having a Time, Talent and Treasure Auction was born. The owners of the old Hope Bay Store, Bob and Carol George, offered to host the auction and once islanders were asked to offer their time, talents or treasures, organizers were overwhelmed by more than 100 offers which ranged from paintings to a one-week B & B stay in Costa Rica; a Japanese dinner, a dozen farm eggs weekly for a month; babysitting; machine shop and welding; a custom-designed child’s dress; a bike tour for two with picnic lunch or tea garden - the items offered showcased the skills, talents and generosity of so many islanders.

Tekla Deverell, Judy Walker and Jacquie Main worked their magic in setting everything up, Linda and John from Corbett House offered credit card processing, and five island characters, Bill Deverell, Brent Marsden, Christa Grace-Warwick, Ellie Donahue, and the irascible Bob George (see photo) acted as auctioneers who coaxed/cajoled the crowd to part with more than $6,000, more than enough to get the conservancy registered and ready to start fundraising for Medicine Beach.”

The PICA archives include three photographs of the auction, two of which are reproduced here.

Even after 30 years it is possible to pick out some familiar faces. In the close up of Hope Bay Store photographer Kevin Oke stands in a blue shirt in the left of the doorway, and Island Tides publisher Christa Grace-Warrick sits facing the camera second from the left. In the more distant shot, auctioneer Bob George stands high in the middle of the scene. He is also seen in Patrick Brown’s close up in the Pender Post report of the auction.

It is always useful to document such scenes, so if readers recognize themselves or other participants in these photographs it would be great to have additional information, which can be emailed to the conservancy.

David Spalding, with text from Doreen Ball.

PICA PAST (8) Incorporation Achieved

Entry for the new PICA logo by Pamela Brooks and Doug Stanley(?)

On January 18th 1993 PICA was incorporated. This documents a formal registration of a non-profit organization with the government. The Societies Act governs the activities of such an organization, specifying what records must be kept, and permitting certain financial activity and the owning and management of land in the interests of the public. Registration makes it easier to carry on the activities of an organization and facilitates fund raising, as some funding sources are only available to incorporated organizations. Further details about the impact on PICA at incorporation are difficult to include at this point as the act has been revised several times, and current government information only reflects current requirements. Societies have to report annually giving names of directors and financial information. These documents (where available) give useful information about the history of the organization.

An unofficial index of board members in early years includes a list of PICA Directors 1992 Oct to April 1993, which would include those applying for incorporation.

Steve Wright - Coordinator (Constitutional Committee).

Brent Marsden - Membership

Lynne Wells -Secretary

Karl Hamson - Treasurer

Jacquie Main (Constitutional Committee).

Mary Reher - Co-ordinator

I believe all these former board members, except Jacquie Main— stalwart pioneers all — are still living and active on Pender, though not necessarily with PICA.

Other committee members in the same period (who were not apparently directors), included Andrea & David Spalding, Larry Mudrie, Sandy Foley, Peter Kappelle, and Cindy Bratt.

The first minutes in 1993 are of directors/executive on April 24th. There had apparently been an AGM, as “Issues Arising” were discussed. The only issue discussed was Clayoquot Sound [at that point perhaps the major conservation issue in the province. A letter of concern was to be sent out to members, but whether for their information or to encourage members to write in protest is not clear. The meeting lists other directors who had been elected, with new names including Bill Dunn, Helen Lemon-Moore, Marlis Anderson, and Linda Sokol. A newsletter was to be drafted, board meetings to be held every month, insurance looked into, and a corporate seal, Conservancy logo and membership cards developed.

David Spalding

PICA PAST (9) War in the Woods

The Pender conservation story represents a very small part of the British Columbia. The issue of Clayoquot came up at the 1993 PICA AGM, a reminder of the awareness of Pender residents of the much larger issues that were going on around us. Some background to PICA’s early efforts can be shown by looking briefly at B.C.s biggest controversy of the period, and Pender’s connections with another Gulf Island.

Clayoquot Sound on Vancouver Island’s west coast had been the scene of protests against logging of old growth forests since 1980, and by mid 1993 was attracting world wide attention. In that year more than 10000 protestors came to the area to protest logging, and another 5000 to support it. 853 people were arrested, in what had become the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history. Many protestors were indigenous people from the region, who pointed out that this was unceded territory, to which the Government had failed to negotiate access. Various attempts to bring the parties together to discuss solutions failed, and later in the year the NDP government came up with a plan which provided some protection, but also continued active logging of old growth.

Closer to home the first land trust was established in the southern Gulf Islands, when Galiano formed its conservancy association in 1989. Galiano was in a different situation from Pender in that since 1960 half the island was being used as a tree farm by forest company MacMillan Bloedel. In 1972 islanders noticed survey tapes on Mount Galiano, and learned that Mac Blo was planning to convert much of its tree farm into 1500 small lots for residential purposes. A complex conflict involved various levels of government, international business, and various interests among Galiano citizens, which since 1974 were working with the newly formed Islands Trust. An incredibly complex multi sided battle developed, some of it fought in the courts. At its peak in 1992, Mac Blo sued various agencies and individual members of the community. The Galiano Conservancy provided advice and assistance to the Pender organization, and PICA directors read about the Galiano conflict in the Island Tides and other news outlets. Over the next few years the battles waged, and eventually some parts of the Galiano were protected from the threatened massive development.

It is in this context of national and local strife that Pender’s Conservancy was established and began its work.

Selected Sources



David Spalding, including information from Doreen Ball and Chuck Williams

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