Agriculture in the East Kootenay
The History of Agriculture
in the East Kootenay project tells the stories of local
ranch families and how the development of each operation
reflected the social and political times. Ranching today
faces some unique challenges and understanding their historical
context will help lead to their resolution.
One of the reasons Lee asked me
to work on the History of Agriculture project was because he knew
I had been raised on a farm in Central Alberta and he assumed
that I understood some of the issues that surround the agricultural
industry. I thought I did when I began, but the more I learned
about it, the more I realized its complexities.
I thought, when I began, that
I was just going to be documenting chronological events in the
lives of ranch families. But in reality, little that affected
the families that were involved in the agricultural industry happened
in a vacuum. For example, many ranchers bought their first tractor
in the 1950s, a purchase that revolutionized their operations.
The mechanization of agriculture was only made possible through
the industrialization created by WWII and the economic boom of
the era that followed.
One of the lessons that I have
learned through my work on this project is that through documenting
and examining the events of the past, we gain an understanding
of what is happening in the present. If there are problems we
would like to solve now—and there usually are—it is important
to understand their history before we can find solutions. The
more we understand, the more interested we become in working together
to resolve present challenges.