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West Kootenay historian Ron Welwood dies at 81

Prominent West Kootenay historian and librarian Ron Welwood has died following a battle with lung cancer.

Welwood passed away Nov. 21 at 81.

He and wife Frances came to Nelson in 1969, where he was hired as the librarian at Notre Dame University. When that institution closed, he remained on campus as the librarian of David Thompson University Centre.

When the government announced it would also close the latter institution in 1984, community members began a sit-in to prevent the books from being removed.

Welwood supported the occupation, which lasted 90 days, until the government agreed to allow the collection to remain in Nelson. He and his colleagues worked alongside the protesters during that time.

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Subsequently, Welwood went to work in the library at Selkirk College, where he retired in 2000. At each institution, he was responsible for acquiring and preserving what he dubbed Kootenaiana — books, photographs, and other ephemera relating to the Kootenays.

He also wrote many articles on local history and helped create driving, walking, and cemetery tours of Nelson. He spent 20 years on the city’s heritage commission and a decade on the BC Historical Federation council, serving as president from 1997-99. He and Frances were responsible for bringing the BCHF’s annual conference to Nelson in 1997 and 2009.

The City of Nelson recognized the Welwoods in 2019 with a special citation in recognition of their contribution to the city’s heritage and cultural life.

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