History & Future:
Work in Progress

Dorte & Thor, Mayor Ian Sutherland and Sq. C. of C. President Gord Prescott
Award presented by Patricia Heintzman.

" The Squamish Chamber of Commerce and the community of Squamish present this
Award of Distinction to
Thor Froslev
In recognition of his significant and enduring contribution to the social, environmental, artistic and economic tapestry of the community of Squamish (and the Republic of Brackendale).

Dated at Squamish, B.C. this 31st of January, 2004."

 Brackendale Art Gallery has been in operation since 1973. Thor Froslev's dream of building an art gallery out in the woods somewhere began in Vancouver:

During the 1950s and 1960s we didn't have a place to hang our paintings. Vancouver artists were starving for a place to exhibit. And if you wanted to play music there were only a couple of coffee houses, The Classical Joint for one. If you were an actor there were few venues available. If you wrote a play you could kiss it good-bye. It would never be seen. Only George Ryga was able to break the barrier.

On top of that we were stifled because there was only one art critic, working for both major papers, and she was not interested in helping us. So we either had to do something about it or live with it. 

I started looking at land all over southern B.C., on my fly fishing trips, and weighing the pros and cons. One day, in 1968, I was fishing at Dragon Lake with Jack Grundel, Jim Killburn and Wade Chernenkof. Jack had started B.C. Fish and Game Magazine. So I asked him "Where do you think I should put this dream of mine?" Jack said "It doesn't matter where you put it, Thor, as long as you do a good job they will find you." One day I found myself fishing my favorite river with my fishing partner,Gary Weir, again talking about my dream.

Starting the original roof, 1972:
Tony Waterfall, Frank Hoy & Thor.

The Belfry Studio, 1995: Toby Nilsson,
Ian Ridgeway, Derek Smith.

And Gary said "I'm sick and tired of listening to you spouting off about your dream. We have fished all over the province, looked at all the places. Now will you make up your [ ] mind." So I said "If I take Jack at his word, I should put it right here"

That was just up here at the confluence of the Cheakamus and the Squamish Rivers. We packed up our gear for the day and walked up to Brackendale, to Boomer's Alpine Cafe and Service Station, for coffee and pumkin pie. We looked out through the window and there was a sign saying "!/2 acre of commercial property For Sale" with a phone number. I realized that the time had come to act.

On Feb. 20, 1970 I bought the property, with a low down- payment and low monthly payments, from Harry Sims. We built a fence in 1970, poured the foundation in '71, started building in '72 and opened, 15 months later, in '73.

To be continued...

 Over the years countless people have supported the dream with their enthusiasm, labour, materials and patronage. Artists, musicians, cooks, craftspeople, willing hands, strong backs, masters and acolytes, volunteers and employees: there are far too many to aknowledge here individually, and each one has a story.

Since the original building opened in 1973, the Gallery has continued to grow: a new kitchen, workshops, the New Stage, more workshops, renovations, repairs, landscaping. The latest additions include a large multipurpose workshop, the Bell Shop, the Belfry Studio, the Sunroom, the Timber Frame building which has become the Chapel, a chicken coop [or perhaps a sauna.... ] and now......

to man
all his
rights to



Design for tower

Brackendale Eagle Aid Station & Data Centre
Story by Patricia Heintzman

As eagle enthusiasts congregated at the Brackendale Art Gallery on the morning of January 9, 1994, many could sense it would be a day to remember. The air was fresh and spirits bright as volunteers set out on the 7th annual Brackendale Winter Eagle Festival Count. Previous festival counts had seen steady increases in the number of eagles, and to most observers there seemed to be even more bald-headed raptors calling the Brackendale area home that winter. Hope was high for a record-setting day.

A few hours later counters with totals in hand began to trickle into festival headquarters at the Brackendale Art Gallery. The evidence in numbers was tallied and a world record 3,769 eagles had been spotted and accounted for. Brackendale and its feathered visitors were now on the world stage and the need to educate, observe, learn about, protect and care for the white-headed visitors was undeniable and even more immediate.

In 1996, after many months of lobbying and promotion by the Brackendale Art Gallery's Thor Froslev, local conservationist and bird advocate Len Goldsmith, and a handful of other dedicated individuals, the Brackendale Eagle Reserve was formed. And with the preservation of 1,500 acres of land along the Mamquam, Squamish and Cheakamus rivers, protection of the Brackendale eagles and their habitat was initiated.

The political progression of this land continued in 1998 when it was designated the Brackendale Eagles Provincial Park (Class A). Permanent and protected eagle habitat had finally been established but the daunting task of ensuring the longevity and sustainability of the entire ecosystem that attracts the bald eagle to the area was just beginning.

In the continuing evolution of the eagles in Brackendale, Thor has conceptualized a new centre for research, data collection, education and emergency care. Although currently only drawings and words on paper, the Brackendale Eagles Aid Station & Data Collection Centre will be a constructive and tangible step in further understanding and preserving these amazing raptors and the environment that draws them. Part research lab and immediate care centre and part art, this unique facility will become an integral aspect of eagle conservation and help in our greater understanding of the complex biodiversity of the ecosystem that sustains this phenomenon, says Thor.

The Eagle Aide Station adjacent to the Eagle Tower will give injured birds a fighting chance at survival. These birds, under the watchful eye of local veterinarians, will be assessed, given initial medical treatment and stabilized before being forwarded to rehabilitation centres in the Lower Mainland with the ultimate goal of increasing survival rates of injured, sick and malnourished birds in the area. It could also be a precursor, says Thor, to a full-fledged rehabilitation centre complete with ambulatory, emergency and long-term care facilities.

The first floor of the Eagle Tower will house a research centre where local and visiting biologists, birders and naturalists can accumulate and assess information about eagles, salmon and their habitat, and all that contributes to the complex and balanced environment needed for healthy animal populations. Its goal will be to contribute to the understanding of the "big picture" so that Brackendale can continue to sustain this unique natural phenomenon and ensure the survival of the eagle's winter home in Brackendale.

This research centre, aid station and bell tower is the crowning achievement in the eclectic Brackendale Art Gallery, complementing and continuing a "work in progress" that has celebrated art and its relationship to our natural world for more than 30 years.

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