This was originally published in the 2019 Gawailis (October) Dootilh.
After many years of riverbank erosion, the Kitlope’s Guardian-Watchmen cabin began to fall into the Kitlope River. Parts of the structure began to float away in 2017 and a plan was devised in 2018 to try to save the structure.
While a number of options were considered for the building, including its’ demolition, Haisla history and heritage values pointed toward a more challenging, but better outcome. Early in 2019, the Haisla Fisheries Commission (HFC) applied for funding through Coast Funds’ allocation for conservation projects. As an important base that has supported monitoring, conservation and research initiatives in the remote Kitlope water-shed, saving the lodge was an easy fit for the funding application.
Beginning in May 2019, the HFC began assembling structural materials on site for the lifting and moving of the building, as well as the construction of new concrete foundations approximately 50ft behind the cabins original location. This was followed by equipment acquisitions, working with marine transportation providers (including the Gitga’at First Nation), and area contractors that specialize in moving buildings, to get all the necessary lifting materials, heavy equipment, 55ft “I-beams” and hydraulic jacking systems on site.
With the help of the Gitga’at’s landing barge, the “Transporter”, all materials, equipment and crews were on site for the lift and move, executed September 10th. After months of planning, the ambitious (and sometimes stressful) project was finally completed.
The HFC will now be working with BC Parks on a vegetation management plan for the cabin location, going forward. Many thanks to all those that helped make this project possible and saved a part of Haisla heritage for generations to come!