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Ruskin Yesterday

When the Europeans arrived at the confluence of the Stave and Fraser Rivers the steep shore on Ruskin side of the Stave River was cover with a magnificent stand of trees. In the 1830s the cooper from Fort Langley found white pine here, the wood he needed for the staves of his barrels--thus the name of the river.

The recognition of Ruskin as a distinct community started with the establishment (1896) of the short-lived co-operative called “Ruskin Mills.” This sawmill was the first of a long series of lumber mills in the area creating steady work. The influx of workers and their families in 1896 warranted a school—Stave River School—and a post office carrying the name Ruskin even after the demise of “Ruskin Mills” in 1900. Around 1910 a railway station with the name Ruskin was established in conjunction with the construction of power stations at Stave Falls. That was also the time when the school was renamed “Ruskin School,” reflecting the consolidation of Ruskin as a community.

Residents call the entire area between Whonnock Creek and the Stave River “Ruskin,” regardless of municipal boundaries. The shore where the Stave River meets the Fraser River is still occupied by the logging industry as it has been for more than a century. Away from the shore Ruskin has kept its rural character. For many years logging, sawmilling, the damming of the Stave, and the power stations created hundreds of local employment opportunities providing some form of financial stability unknown in other areas. That work and the people who did it have diminished and sadly Ruskin had to give up its railway station, its post office, its general store and not too long ago its elementary school when it merged with the Whonnock School. The 1922 Ruskin Community Hall, however, survives due to the dedication of a group of proud volunteers. Credit: Ruskin Community web site.

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