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

Early morning break-in at Campbell River hardware store

‘Brazen’ break in at Adam’s Tarp and Tool in the early hours of April 9, RCMP say

Message from North Island MLA Claire Trevena ahead of Easter weekend

‘Our government is trying to assist, whether it is with rent or financial support’

Campbell River grocery worker’s car stolen while he works

A local grocery store clerk is missing his vehicle after it was… Continue reading

B.C. First Nations Health Authority launches virtual doctor program

Program to provide primary health care through COVID-19 pandemic

VIDEO: More than 85 people displaced by Campbell River apartment fire

Traffic is being diverted around Dogwood Street and 9th Avenue

Campbell River community COVID-19 agencies, services and resources list

The list outlines status of social agencies in the community

B.C.’s COVID-19 rent supplement starts taking applications

$300 to $500 to landlords for April, May and June if eligible

B.C. unveils $5M for mental health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic

Will include virtual clinics and resources for British Columbians, including front-line workers

UPDATE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, feds clarify changes

The CRA and federal officials are working to clarify the confusion around payments

VIDEO: B.C. singer creates frontline workers tribute song

Cambree Lovesy’s song saluting those battling COVID-19 draws interest online

Statistics Canada report looks at COVID-19’s impact on violence in the family

Police across Canada reported almost 100,000 cases of intimate partner violence in 2018

132,000 B.C. jobs lost just the start of COVID-19 impact, finance minister says

Finance Minister Carole James says ‘this isn’t the entire picture’

B.C. asking companies to contribute through online COVID-19 supply hub

New platform to co-ordinate, source, expedite supplies and equipment to support front-line workers

Most Read