New Westminster's Fraser River Discovery Centre has named its 2011 inductee to the Fraser River Hall of Fame.
The Fraser River Discovery Society will hold a gala in October to add the family of Susan and Darwin Baerg and their eco-tourism business, Fraser River Raft Expeditions, to the Hall of Fame.
Every year, the society selects a business, group or individual who has contributed environmentally, socially or economically to the Fraser.
"It's an honour. It feels good. I was surprised when we heard and it felt good," Darwin said from his Yale-based business.
Darwin estimates he and his family and staff have taken somewhere in the ballpark of 50,000 guests from all over the world down about 65,000 kilometres of various sections of the Fraser and its tributaries since they started the business 25 years ago.
During that time, the Baergs have been something like floating emissaries for the river, teaching customers about the Fraser's history and environment, assisting academic researchers, hosting documentary crews, advocating for the Fraser's environmental health and salmon habitat, and taking part in many search and rescue operations on the river.
"Over the years, it's definitely been a real cross-section of experiences that we've had and that we're able to share with people as well. It's been good," Darwin said. "It's something that we enjoy and believe in. It's what we do."
He added that it was nice to be recognized when most Hall of Fame members are businesses from the Lower Mainland, where people tend to not appreciate how important the Fraser River is to B.C.'s history, economy and environment.
"For the majority of people, they see the Fraser River as an obstacle to get over to get back and forth to work . and they have no idea what's upstream," he said.
Catherine OuelletMartin, executive director of the centre said the Baergs and their family were a fairly easy choice to make for the 2011 induction.
"Fraser River Raft Expeditions and work that the Baerg family has done over the years applies perfectly to our criteria," she said. "They've been interpreting the Fraser River to their clients in a way that very few have done. They are a very successful business, and they promote tourism as well as an understanding of the Fraser River from an environmental point of view and economic point of view as well. They embody a little bit of all of the aspects of the Fraser River."
In addition to its annual Hall of Fame gala and fundraiser scheduled for Oct. 20, the society will also be organizing a "hell of a party at Hell's Gate Airtram" in Boston Bar on Sept. 10 to honour the Baerg family's contributions.
Past inductees include the Fraser Basin Council, Fraser Port Authority and New Westminster's Fraser River Pile and Dredge.