Upcoming Events

EXHIBIT: Beehive Burners Behind Us

Date: March 25, 2020 12:15 am to July 31, 2020 12:00 am

March 2020 - T.B.A. 

Please visit https://www.pgrfm.bc.ca/Curatorial/exhibits for videos of the exhibit. 

Thousands of sawmills and planers, large and small, littered British Columbia’s landscape throughout the mid-twentieth century. Enormous amounts of sawdust, bark and other waste wood accumulated at these sites. This biproduct was buried and burned in open pits in an attempt to control the refuse. 

As a follow up to these techniques, conical steel “beehive” burners were designed to incinerate waste wood in a controlled and safe way. They soon became a fixture at almost every saw and planer mill in the province.  The many burners in Prince George produced a lot of ash and smoke which caused the atmosphere to become clouded.  

It was clear to artist, Louis J.  Englehart (1915-1989), that the technology of the beehive burner would not be utilized forever due to their environmental impact. He travelled to mill sites and created watercolor sketches of the beehive burners he saw. Englehart used these sketches as the base of the paintings exhibited here. These sketches are now stored at the Royal BC Museum. It was important to Englehart to record the B.C. landscape before the burners vanished. 

The BC government enacted the Environmental Management Act in 1997. Burners now require a permit to burn wood waste. Today there are only 33 burning facilities in B.C. Many abandoned beehive burners can still be spotted in the Central Interior of B.C. They are slowly decaying and being absorbed by the natural landscape.