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Maple Ridge musician raising money to make documentary about Sam Robertson

Agricultural pioneer was the first European to settle and farm in Maple Ridge

Maple Ridge musician Bruce Coughlan and his band Tiller’s Folly are raising money to create a documentary on the life and times of agricultural pioneer Sam Robertson.

Coughlan has teamed up with the BC Farm Museum to raise $5,000 towards production fees for the project called A Simply Extraordinary Life – The Story of Sam Robertson.

He is creating the multi-media tribute to tell Robertson’s story.

Born in 1823, in the Orkney Islands of Scotland, Robertson was skilled in boat building, carpentry, and cabinet making. According to the Maple Ridge Museum, he signed on with the Hudson’s Bay Company, whose ships stopped at the Orkneys for fresh water. He travelled to Fort Langley in 1843 and worked there for several years, working off his passage, but would row across the Fraser River and plant young fruit trees in natural clearings. When he took up his homestead in 1858, he already had fruit-bearing trees, the first in B.C. not owned by the Hudson’s Bay Company. He was the first European to settle and farm in Maple Ridge. Remnants of his orchards can still be found by the mouth of Kanaka Creek.

In the documentary Coughlan, will walk viewers through various historical sites and outline the significance of each location, telling Robertson’s story with archival images and original music by Tiller’s Folly. The documentary will end with the group’s feature music video called A Simply Extraordinary Life.

So far Coughlan and his partners have raised $900 towards their goal.

The project, he said, has already received partial funding through the SOCAN Foundation and they are now reaching out to other potential partnerships for support.

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“Songsmith Bruce Coughlan has a gift for pinpointing compelling characters from B.C.’s past. Whether it’s the last of the Royal Engineers, a grizzled tugboat captain or Victoria Cross winner, his songs help us walk in their footsteps,” commented Mark Forsythe, a former CBC Radio Broadcaster, co-author of The Trail of 1858: British Columbia’s Gold Rush Past.

Each donor will receive a personal invitation to the premiere presentation of the song and video A Simply Extraordinary Life of Samuel Robertson.

Donors may attend in person or view the presentation live online.

The fundraiser for A Simply Extraordinary Life – The Story of Sam Robertson ends on June 20, 2022.

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Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

I got my start with Black Press Media in 2003 as a photojournalist.
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