Columbia River Treaty exhibit at the Nakusp Library

Exhibit ran from Sept. 18-21 and featured the history and lead up to the signing of the Columbia River Treaty

If you were to visit Nakusp’s public library this weekend, you might have noticed there was something a little different about the place.

In one part of the library, and exhibit had been set up detailing the events that led up to the signing of the Columbia River Treaty in 1961.

The exhibit featured a variety of information, from a timeline of the events leading up to the treaty and the construction of the dams, a list of wildlife that inhabits the Columbia and Kootenay Rivers, to the controversies surrounding the treaty itself.

“I think it’s very showy, and it’s trying to tell the truth, I suppose,” said Sharon Montgomery, curator of the Nakusp and District Museum.

“I was caught by the pictographs here that were destroyed, and that’s just across from Burton, she said.

“They were having a meeting in Nakusp about what to do with them, and meanwhile they were blasting them out on the highway. We have copies of them in the museum, so you can still see them.”

The exhibit didn’t try to shy away from, or hide any of the controversy that surrounded the treaty.

B.C. law required a license for water works, which involved a public hearing process. Hearings for the CRT dams were held between September and October of 1961, about six months after the treaty had been signed.

Because the design of the dams was already entrenched in an international treaty, any discussion on the treaty and its merits were out of order.

While it featured gains from the treaty, such as co-operative river operations, flood control for urban and agricultural areas, and relatively inexpensive electricity, it also made sure to show the losses that arose from the treaty. Things like losing mature bottom land forests for sustainable logging, a water transportation network, as well as numerous habitat losses for fish and other wildlife.

“I thought it was really well done,” said librarian Susan Rogers. “It was very informative, and captured the pros and cons of both sides.”

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