Fred Braches has compiled his columns that have told the story about Maple Ridge, through the pages of the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News. Phil Melnychuk/THE NEWS

Maple Ridge historian saves columns in a book

Looking Back highlights 20 years of local stories

These days, it’s much easier to figure out what went on, back in the day, when pioneers were still carving out dirt roads and hewing huge trees, relying on horse power and steam engines to get work done.

Maple Ridge historian Fred Braches says thanks to the internet, it’s possible to look at records and see some of the actual documents that say conclusively what happened decades ago.

“Today, you can really dig into it and find out what the facts are,” Braches said. “The resources are so much larger.”

Braches has spent more than two decades researching and ferreting out the facts about the early days of Whonnock and Ruskin and bases his writings on the actual documents and records that he finds instead of relying on word of mouth or local legend.

“I can tell you, local history is so fickle. What people say as fact – is so much conjecture,” Braches said Thursday.

He recently self published a compilation of his contributions to the Looking Back columns that are regular features in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News.

The book is appropriately titled, Whonnock and Ruskin: Looking Back and includes columns from 1999 to 2017.

Braches also publishes his columns and findings online via Whonnock Notes ( and also wrote Searching for Pitt Lake Gold, published by Heritage House.

With a commitment to rigourous research (he cites a quote on the book’s back cover, “History isn’t a myth-making discipline, it’s a myth-busting discipline,”) Braches says it’s important that the City of Maple Ridge create an archives, a place where the public can go to pore through original documents, either from the community, or from the city itself, to ensure history is preserved.

“Maple Ridge needs an archives, not what they call and archives and museum, no, a real archives,” he said.

Many of Maple Ridge city’s documents are now stored in the Misssion Community Archives, he notes.

Looking Back is available at Black Bond Books in Valley Fair Mall in Maple Ridge. He plans to write more books.

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Fred Braches has compiled his columns that have told the story about Maple Ridge, through the pages of the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News. THE NEWS/files

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