Don McIver never did seem to slow down. Here at age 89 in 2016, he shows off an original 12-foot lapstrake rowboat built by Campbell River boatbuilder Ed Painter in 1952. In the 1950s, McIver regularly rowed Discovery Passage in such boats. He later rowed one across Discovery Passage with his good friend Stan Goodrich in the 2016 Passage Across the Passage event just prior to which he posed for this photo to help promote the event. Photo contributed

Don McIver was a champion of the environment and steadfast community contributor

Best known for his efforts to protect the Beaver Lodge Forest Lands

Campbell River lost a champion of the local environment on Nov. 20.

Don McIver, 93, championed a number of causes but will certainly be remembered for his role in preventing the Beaver Lodge Lands from being developed into housing subdivisions. Just as importantly as his work for his causes was the way he worked on them. He was a quiet man, civil in his dealings with everybody but steadfast and unmoveable when it came to the cause.

I came to know Don in the early 1990s through covering the re-instatement of the Beaver Lodge Lands experimental forest and the later structure developed to govern it going forward.

In the ensuing years, Don kept in touch with me by dropping by the Campbell River Mirror office to discuss issues or promote programs he supported, most notably Operation Eyesight. With his distinct, soft, high-pitched voice, Don was always cheerful explaining the value of things.

Our encounters often occurred outside the office, he would literally stop me on the street to chat about seemingly everything under the sun. Besides talking about issues, he’d occasionally reminisce about his years in the logging industry taking note of early reforestation programs he was involved in.

And he was a thoughtful man. When he read about my son earning his gold Duke of Edinburgh Award, he called me up and said he was making a donation to Operation Eyesight in my son’s name. It was a touching gesture reflecting his interest in youth, concern for developing countries and charitable nature.

Operation Eyesight is an international development oganization working to eliminate avoidable blindness through donations from individuals, corporations and organizations. It brings sight-restoration and blindness-prevention treatment to millions.

Don was a member of a group of individuals who halted the City of Campbell River’s extensive plans to develop the Beaver Lodge Lands into much-needed housing and major road network. He was active in Campbell River Fish and Wildlife Assocation and the Campbell River Environmental Council (CREC), an umbrella group of local conservation organizations.

When the City of Campbell River unveiled extensive plans to open up a popular forested area for housing subdivision, it was members of CREC that pointed out to the city that the area known as the Beaver Lodge Lands was deeded to the province as as an experimental forest back in the 1930s by forest industry magnate H.R. MacMillan. MacMillan recognized even back then that the province’s rate of harvesting trees would leave the cupboard bare and that replanting was needed. So, he donated about 1,000 hectares of forest west of what would become the City of Campbell River for that purpose.

The area was clear cut and then re-seeded with all manner of species with the intention to see how well they regrew. They regrew well, for the most part, and over the decades the community at the mouth of the Campbell River grew and grew as well. The forest west of the community had become a popular outdoor recreation resource and the deed to the province was filed and mostly forgotten. When the city recognized that its historical pattern of growth – spreading south along the foreshore – would put too much pressure on services, the decision was made to push development westward. An extensive plan of streets and cul de sacs was drawn up.

Don and others in CREC said, “Wait a minute, isn’t it a provincial forest?”

They set about finding proof of that in the form of the actual deed written up by McMillan and the province. Which they did. It brought all the city’s plans to develop all that forest land to a screeching halt. In the ensuing years, portions of the original deeded land had been carved off for the airport and for the college.

To reinstate the original deed, trade-offs had to be negotiated and the city pointed out the need for a secondary north-south road for safety reasons as much as traffic movement (if the Old Island Highway was blocked, how would evacuations or emergency vehicle movement happen). That became the Dogwood Street extension which currently slices through the Beaver Lodge Forest Lands. To protect this forest from further encroachment, a specific piece of legislation had to be drafted and passed by the provincial legislature. That was facilitated by then-North Island MLA and Attorney General, Colin Gabelmann.

It was a massive story and took a huge effort on the part of a lot of people to see that the forest was protected and that an administrative structure got set up to oversee it. Former forestry manager and later Beaver Lodge volunteer Ron Burrell said Don was a driving force in the development of the Beaverlodge Trust Committee. He collaborated on the many issues in the formation of the “Beaverlodge Resource Use plan 1994” which has been updated and remains the guiding principle for activities in the Beaverlodge, Burrell said.

“(Then-Forest) Minister (Andrew) Pettter called Don ‘The Protector of the Beaverlodge,’” Burrell said. “Don remained a strong voice for the protection and conservation of the Beaverlodge for the last 25 years.

“His integrity, honesty and commitment to the environment set a very high standard and our community owes him our thanks.”

Coun. Charlie Cornfield agrees that Don was an integral part of the effort to reinstate the Beaver Lodge Lands as well as the trust committee formed afterwards.

“Don was on there right from Day one and stuck with it for us all,” Cornfield said.

It was not an easy structure to set up, Cornfield said. Most people considered the Beaver Lodge a park (and still do). But it’s not a park and the committee was set up to ensure the spirit of the original deed was maintained.

“Don was instrumental in making sure that that happened and the government stayed true to the (original) trust,” Cornfield said.

Cornfield says Don was a “good fighter” but was always respectful no matter that you had a different point of view. But he didn’t back down.

“If he believed in something, he stood up for something he believed in,” Cornfield said.

A trail in the Beaver Lodge Lands is named after Don. Cornfield says that’s a fitting tribute.

“Don lived a good life and contributed lots,” Cornfield said.

RELATED: Donald Charles McIver

RELATED: Back to the Passage

RELATED: Beaver Lodge recognition


@AlstrT
editor@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kuterra’s smolts will come from Cermaq hatcheries. (Whole Oceans image)
Cermaq to supply salmon smolts to land-based farm Kuterra

Emergent Holdings, which operates Kuterra, and Cermaq signed a four-year agreement

Candice Woloshyn prepares her flower beds for the next season at her ‘Dirty Girl Flowers’ farm in Merville. Despite the pandemic, Woloshyn was able to sustain her homegrown business as community members opted for regular deliveries of fresh cut flowers. Photo by Binny Paul/ Campbell River Mirror.
Vancouver Island flower farmers were blooming as the pandemic wilted everything else

Floriculturists saw increased subscriptions as fresh flowers became a ‘sight for sore eyes’ during isolation

Dispatcher at Campbell River fire dispatch centre during wind storms on Dec. 20, 2018. Photo courtesy Campbell River Fire Department
North Island 9-1-1 celebrates 25 years of serving the community

From mountainous areas to forested landscapes and pristine oceanside communities, North Island… Continue reading

Campbell River's new hospital, July 2018
Nurse diverts opiates and falsifies records at Campbell River Hospital

Nurse facing disciplinary action for moving opiates out of the hospital

The recently acquired Thulin family car, photographed in front of the Willows Hotel in 1912. MCR7453. Courtesy Museum at Campbell River
No license to drive

A Look Back into the History of the Campbell River Area

Carolyn and Steve Touhey came across a pod of humpback whales while on their boat Sunday, Oct. 25. Photo supplied
VIDEO: Boaters encounter pod of humpbacks in Georgia Strait

Pod spotted between Comox and Texada Island

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada/USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
U.S. election results one factor that could impact immigration to Canada next year

The survey polled 1,523 Canadians between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25

The voting station mimicked a real voting station in Nicole Choi’s classroom at Chilliwack middle school on Oct. 22, 2020, where students had to show their ID (student cards), be checked off a list, and mark a secret ballot behind a screen. (Jessica Peters/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. students choose NDP majority in mock election

More than 90,000 youth took part in school-based election process

Crew transport bus at the Trans Mountain pipeline project work site in Burnaby, March 2020. (Trans Mountain)
Check your workplace COVID-19 safety plans, Dr. Henry urges

Masks in public spaces, distance in lunchrooms for winter

B.C.’s Court of Appeal is in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Judgment reserved in Surrey Six slayings appeals

Six men were killed in suite 1505 of the Balmoral Tower in Whalley on Oct. 19, 2007

Kelowna City Hall has been vandalized overnight. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna City Hall hit by anti-pandemic vandalism

Graffiti condemning the virus appears overnight on City Hall

Most Read