History When registered as a society on April 28, 1978, under the presidency of Paul Griffiths, the BC Speleological Federation was primarily a Vancouver Island/Lower Mainland organization with membership grouped into six “charter” chapters, the Port Hardy Caving Group, Discovery Passage Caving Group (Campbell River), Vancouver Caving Association, Cave Exploration and Research Group (Vancouver), Victoria Caving Group and the Canadian Speleological Society of British Columbia Region  (despite its expansive name, a Vancouver Island based society registered since 1973). For the next 8 years, despite its name and stated purpose of representing the organized BC caving community, the BCSF remained estranged from the other large Vancouver Island caving society, the Vancouver Island Cave Exploration Group (VICEG), which traced its origins back to Clarence Hronek’s November 1962 formation of the Victoria-based “BC Cave Hunters”, the first caving organization in Canada.  Another small, independent group on the Lower Mainland organized in 1970 by Clarence and Gerritt van der Laan, BC Speleo Research (originally BC Mainland Cavers), also remained outside the fold.  By the early 1980s, the charter chapters of the BCSF had ceased to exist as distinct entities as the Federation began to operate more like a society of individual members.  In May 1983 another, small group of independent cavers formed the loosely organized Vancouver Caving Club. The advent of new blood in the caving community and collaboration on cave rescue following a cave SAR incident at the end of 1983 began to bridge the gap between BCSF and VICEG.  The tragic death of a UVCC/VICEG caver during an Island Speleofest in 1986 served as the final catalyst to bring the province’s two main organizations together. A process to transform the Federation into a more open and inclusive “umbrella” organization for all BC caving groups began with a very constructive and well-attended combined meeting in November 1986 and continued throughout 1987 with a consultative process coordinated by new BCSF Director Phil Whitfleld from VICEG.  A single comprehensive publication, the BC Caver, replaced the monthly editions of VICEG News that had been produced since January 1971, the intermittent Subterraneus and Dripline newsletters of the BCSF and the “neutral” Island Underground publication that had helped to bridge the gap in 1985-86.  Paul Griffiths remained at the helm of the Federation until 1998, but by 1989, once-rival VICEG members had become integrated into the leadership of the organization and its directors included representation from Vancouver, Prince George and Kootenay cavers as well as those from the traditional base of Vancouver Island.  In 1992, the Federation altered its constitution and bylaws to transform it from a society of individual members into a true federation of member organizations.  A key intent of this change was to encourage individual active cavers in various locations around the province to organize themselves into local clubs of five or more so as to pool equipment, experience and initiative, with the Federation providing formal recognition, communications, conservation and safety expertise and such provincial level political support as might be needed.  With each local club represented on the Board of Directors proportionate to its size, this structure would recognize possibly diverse local interests and foster local pride and a sense of identity and responsibility, while providing a neutral provincial level forum for advancing common interests. The 1992 reorganization resulted in a Federation representing a small number of unaffiliated cavers and the four local caving clubs active at the time.  Over succeeding years, new groups formed while some faded away or merged into others as core members came and went.  The following list outlines the local groups recognized as Federation members at various times.  Current member organizations are underlined. The Prince George Devil’s Club (~18 members), formed in Prince George and Quesnel in the mid-1980s. Members worked closely with Alberta Speleological Society members in exploration of caves in the McGregor Range northeast of Prince George and many were also involved in organized Search and Rescue.  Principals included Gord Meakin, Vern Richardson and Lance Amos.  Merged into the Northern BC Caving Club in 2001. The Golden Speleological Society 1992-2001 (~14 members), based in Revelstoke and Golden, organized by Glenn Leidloff, Carol-Ann Leidloff  and Peter Kimmel and including several Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Park wardens.  Dissolved in 2001 owing to lack of members. The Vancouver Caving Group, formed in 1983 and a member of the BCSF from 1992 until dissolution as a member organization in 2009 (~10 members), a proudly disorganized group of dedicated cavers led by McMaster veteran Tich Morris and overlapping into VICEG membership . The Vancouver Island Cave Exploration Group (~50 members), tracing its origins to the 1962 BC Cave Hunters and a registered society since 1973 (previously registered from 1967-70 as the BC Speleological Society and the Canadian Speleological Society) based on Vancouver Island, but including members from other parts of the province and beyond who were involved in Island caving.  Joined the BCSF in 1987 and continues today as the largest member organization (over 80 in 2011). Leadership in the 1990s included Bill Bourdillon, Rick Coles, Gerry Fowler, Tim Penney, Pat Shaw and Phil Whitfield. The University of Northern BC Caving Club (~41 members), organized in 1993 by university administrator Clive Keen and including a core of non-university cavers including Bob Rutherford, Ben van Noort, Craig Smith and Steve Smith.  Maintaining a higher profile than the Devil’s Club, UNBCCC members also focused attention on the Dezaiko and McGregor Ranges, notably Fang Cave.  The club produced at least 15 issues of its own journal, the Aardvark from 1993-96.  Took the name Northern BC Caving Club (NBCCC) in 2000 because of weakened ties with the University and a desire to broaden its appeal. The University of Victoria Caving Club (~25 members), originally organized in 1970 but largely dormant after 1973 and not formally recognized as a member organization of the BCSF until 1994.  In practice, many members have been  involved in recreational caving only during one or two university years, though some gravitated to VICEG when they became more seriously “hooked” on caving.  Jim Jacek, also a VICEG member, has been a long term mentor. Northern Vancouver Island Cave and Karst Explorations (~10 members), a small group formed around Mike Henwood of Port McNeill in 1984 and recognized as a member organization of the BCSF in 1995.  Membership officially lapsed in 2002 after 3 years of non-participation. Its activities as a recreational caving group became blurred with Henwood’s activities as a commercial tour guide, particularly in the Artlish River Caves. The Chilliwack River Valley Cavers (originally ~19 members), formed by Rob Wall and Chris Dyck in 1994 and a member organization of the BCSF since 1995.  The club expanded to over 30 members by 2005 but shrank to fewer than ten following the loss of access to high elevation caving areas in the valley and concerns about pressure on the valley’s few remaining accessible cave resources. The Under Achievers Cave Exploration Group (originally 10 members), formed around Trevor and Nancy Moelaert of Kelowna in 1996, joined the Federation in 1997 and remained a member organization until after the Moelaerts’ move to Vancouver Island in 200_.  Dissolved as a member organization of the BCSF in 2009 with members shifting into VICEG.  Engaged in exploration of significantly long, deep cave systems at “Holely Mountain” on the west side of Strathcona Park, Vancouver Island, as well as other activities. The Northern BC Caving Club replaced the UNBCC in 2000 and merged with the Prince George Devil’s Club in 2001.  It continues to represent northern BC cavers, many of whom remain active in SAR, and it  has distinguished itself in the exploration of new caves in several remote areas of BC Parks. The Association of Unaffiliated British Columbia Cavers (AUBCC), created in 2005 as a “shell” member organization of the Federation in order to provide a formal mechanism for coordinating and representing any individual cavers who were not members of established local clubs.  As a federation of member organizations, the BCSF would otherwise have no provision for individuals.  Unaffiliated cavers can elect a Director to represent their interests on the BCSF Board The West Kootenay Caving Consortium, a small group of cavers in the Nelson- Kaslo area, including Cody Caves tour operator Kevin Stanway and long-time caver and cave diver John Pollack.  The group was recognized as a Federation member from 2005-2009, after which time the remaining members folded into the AUBCC. The Commercial Cave Operators Association (subsequently the Western Canadian Cave/Karst Tour Operators Association), created in 2005 to bring interested cave/karst commercial operators into the Federation in order to improve communications and coordination of interests and activities.  Originally including two guiding operations in BC and two in Alberta, the Association represented only one in BC and one in Alberta as of 2011.
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