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Publication: Canadian Press add link
Issue: 27 November 2008
Title: B.C. government honours 100-year-old forester
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B.C. government honours 100-year-old forester with $1,500 bursary

Published: Thursday, November 27, 2008 | 8:00 PM ET

Canadian Press: Dirk Meissner, THE CANADIAN PRESS

VICTORIA, B.C. - B.C.'s oldest living forester has some advice for people suffering through the current slump in the forest sector.

The industry, like trees, always comes back, said 100-year-old Lorne Swanell. He was honoured Thursday by B.C. Forests Minister Pat Bell with creation of a $1,500 bursary in his name at the University of Northern British Columbia's ecological science and management program.

Swanell, born in Victoria in 1908 and still living there, said he's seen many forest industry downturns, but he's also witnessed recoveries.

"It goes up and down," he said. "How long it will last, I don't know, but it will pass."

Swanell worked on British Columbia's first reforestation project in 1932 on West Thurlow Island, off the north-east coast of Vancouver Island.

He started his career in the early 1930s and went to work as a junior forester in Kamloops in the B.C. Interior where the area was in the grip of a serious mountain pine beetle epidemic.

In recent years, the mountain pine beetle has come back to destroy much of the Interior and northern pine forests.

Swanell, who served as B.C.'s chief forester from 1965 to 1972, also served overseas during the Second World War from 1939 to 1945.

Bell said it was fitting that Swanell was honoured in a ceremony at the B.C. legislature in the aptly-named Hemlock Room.

"A lot of history here on Mr. Swanell's part," he said. "Some very sound advice, and as Minister of Forests, I can tell you I'm going to be taking it to heart and listening to that gentleman."

Swanell said he's been amazed at the changes he's seen in the industry, especially when it comes to the utilization of the forest resource. He also said he never liked forest protesters, but recognizes their right to protest.

He attributed his longevity to a stiff shot of rum once in a while.