It was a golden moment for Selkirk College and rural post-secondary education when the new book “Journeys Taken: The First 50 Years of Selkirk College” was launched. Hard to believe it was supposed to be a prison.

Brought to life by the loggers, miners, artists, small business owners and community leaders who dreamed of accessible post-secondary education for their children away from the glare of the big city, Selkirk College opened its doors to learning in 1966. Over the next five decades, the resourcefulness of those humble post-secondary pioneers has manifested in an ever expanding array programs that change thousands of lives each year through education that fits the needs of evolving economies.

Selkirk College Ski Team Training on Kokanee Glacier in the late 1960s.

To help mark the institution’s golden anniversary, a project team of Selkirk College staffers Takaia Larsen, Bob Hall and Marian Lowe put together the stunning 200-page coffee table book that traces the fascinating story of post-secondary in the West Kootenay and Boundary regions. [Ed note: KMC & CMC senior editor Tara Cunningham was also involved in editing the book.] Journeys Taken: Selkirk College – The First 50 Years is a beautifully designed volume packed with history, photographs and personal tales of the characters who helped shape today’s multi-campus institution that has grown from four original programs to more than 60.

At one point penciled in as the suitable site for a provincial prison, the Castlegar Campus at the confluence of the Columbia and Kootenay Rivers is the symbolic heart of close-to-home advanced education, but the story goes so much deeper. Unique offerings like the Ski Resort Operations & Management Program (SROAM) and the Contemporary Music & Technology Program were brought to life in Nelson where today’s students study in a campus first built for Notre Dame University in the mid-1950s. Journeys Taken includes the deep history of Nelson’s Tenth Street Campus that at one point in the late-1960s hosted the Canadian National Ski Team which boasted Olympic gold medalist Nancy Greene as part of the squad.

Protesting and activism were a large part of the Selkirk College culture.

More of an insightful narrative than an exhaustive history tome, Journeys Taken provides an entertaining look at the timeline of British Columbia’s first rural community college created by referendum. With thousands of lives changed through education earned at Selkirk College over the last 50 years, the places, people and programs featured tell a delightful story of how post-secondary has significantly enhanced life in the hinterland.

To learn more about the book, log on to Selkirk College’s website.

The Canadian National Ski Team was based at the Tenth Street Campus in the late 1960s