Biological station gets national recognition

It’s taken some time, but Nanaimo’s Pacific Biological Station is now considered a national historic event.

It’s taken some time, but Nanaimo’s Pacific Biological Station is now considered a national historic event.

Federal Environment Minister Peter Kent made the site designation last week.

Chris Sholberg, Nanaimo’s heritage planner, and Ted Perry, director of marine ecosystems and aquaculture division for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, now retired, made a submission for nomination in 2008 during the station’s 100th anniversary. The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada recommended the designation in 2009.

“We were advised by the government that there was room for additional site recognition under the national historic site program in this area,” said Sholberg. “After looking at a few possible sites the city’s heritage commission focused in on the Pacific Biological Station as a good candidate and together with the PBS we made a joint submission.”

PBS’s sister station, St. Andrew’s Biological Station in New Brunswick, was also declared a national historic event in the same decision.

“The idea was to recognize the history of the science at the facility more than the bricks and mortar of the site, which is why it’s an event,” said Sholberg. “A number of the scientists that have worked there have received the Order of Canada and the work that is done there is something for us as a community to be proud of.”

According to minutes from a July 2009 meeting of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, PBS was selected because: it is the first fisheries research institution in the country, established in 1908; it provided necessary facilities for Canada’s foremost fisheries scientists, including William E. Ricker and A.G. Huntsman, to pursue research and allow Canada to become a leader in fishery and aquatic research; and research at PBS was pivotal in advancing the study of commercial fish population dynamics and spawning characteristics.

The board also determined work at the station also greatly increased knowledge of the distribution of salmon stocks and put Canada at the forefront of Pacific fisheries science.

In 2008, during the station’s centennial celebrations, the city’s heritage department also recognized the facility with a ceremony and plaque presentation to acknowledge the important role PBS has played in Nanaimo.

Currently, the PBS is home to more than 200 scientists, technicians, support staff and ships crews. There are 22 structures on site including a four-storey office and wet lab, specialty storage, freezers and salt water pumping stations. The station is located on the north shore of Departure Bay and is accessible off Hammond Bay Road.

A ceremony and plaque presentation will officially take place to commemorate the designation in about 18 months.