Newly developed Education and Research Centre allows for four-season study

The accessible 2,345 square feet facility will be the new base of operation for student research in the park

The accessible 2,345 square feet facility will be the new base of operation for student research in the park. (Submitted)

The Wells Gray Education and Research Centre has seen a recent expansion, paving the way for greater opportunities for current and future students to study the diverse ecology of Wells Gray Provincial Park year-round.

Once operated out of the former Upper Clearwater Schoolhouse, donated to and used by TRU since the early 90s, the Research Centre will now call the new 2,345 square feet, four-season facility home.

The wheelchair-accessible facility is quite a step up from the former one-room schoolhouse, housing meeting, classroom and dining spaces, including a kitchen and sleeping quarters that accommodate up to 20 people.

The over 540,000-hectare park is located within the unceded Secwépemc lands of the Simpcwúl’ecw and Tsq’escenemc, known internationally for its old-growth forests, grizzly bear migration routes, and as a significant habitat for mountain caribou, a threatened population.

“TRU has a deep appreciation for the significance of this land to the First Nations surrounding Wells Gray. Their ancestors have inhabited this area since time immemorial and as such, they have a special relationship with it. We are grateful that our students have the opportunity to access and learn from the rich ecological diversity in the area,” said TRU President and Vice-Chancellor Brett Fairbairn.

Some 500 hectares of Crown land designated for educational and research purposes border the Education and Research Centre’s property in addition to the adjacent five hectares of land donated to TRU by lichenologist Trevor Goward and Helen Knight.

Over the past 25 years, the site has logged over 24,000 user days from the many researchers from TRU and other western institutions that have used the old facilities to study within the park.

The new Education and Research Centre cost an estimated $861,000, funded through major grants, gifts and contributions to TRU.

“Over the past 25 years, TRU’s Education and Research Centre has provided hundreds of students with memorable, hands-on experiences with Wells Gray’s wildlife and all of the treasures that the park protects,” said Tom Dickinson, former Dean of Science and current faculty member in biological sciences. 

“These new facilities will allow even more future students to benefit from the unique learning opportunities that this place offers,” Dickinson said.