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Hinton says goodbye to a forestry ‘pioneer’

Tyler Waugh

A former longtime resident of Hinton is being remembered as a pioneer of the forestry industry and a champion of outdoor recreation after passing away in Calgary last week.

Jack Wright first arrived in Hinton with wife Margaret in 1957 to work in the forestry department of Northwest Pulp and Power Ltd.

He was promoted to chief forester in 1975 and retired in 1987.

In those 30 years he is credited with establishing forestry philosophies and practices that endure today.

“He was instrumental in setting up the forest inventory and forest management programs at Hinton in the early days that set the gold standard for management planning and forest management across Canada,” said Bob Udell, who worked, volunteered and performed with Wright in Hinton over the years.

“He was a tireless and fearless spokesperson for the company, the industry and forestry in general.”

After his retirement Wright continued his involvement as a member of the Forest Resources Advisory Committee for another 27 years until leaving Hinton in 2016.

Richard Briand, chief forester for West Fraser in Alberta, said Wright’s ongoing legacy is one of long-term focus, policy development based on research and science, as well as frugal spending and innovative solutions.

“Also don’t be afraid to be the first to do something if you know it needs to be done,” Briand added.

Wright was raised in Pembroke, Ontario, where Udell said he first developed a love of the outdoors.

Wright spent countless hours working on local ski trails – particularly the Camp 29 trails – brushing, grooming and track setting with the help of the company who kept the road plowed, and provided him an old double track to do the job.

For many years he also kept the Wild Sculpture Trail in shape by brushing and clearing deadfall.

“These trails were part of his legacy, as he started the recreation program at NWP&P. He was also very active in the Friends of Switzer Park.,” Udell shared.

Udell added that both Jack and Marg were active in the arts community of Hinton. Marg taught piano for many years as well as leading the community band and seniors’ choir.

“Jack played cornet in the band and he and Marg sang in a number of choirs over the years,” Udell said.

Jack Wright passed away April 22 in Calgary. He was 89. Those who wish to honour his life are asked to please consider a donation to The Friends
of Switzer Park.