Celebrating Cathy Cook!

Nov 28, 2019 | 41-4, Blog, Governance, Statement, Video | 0 comments

In my final statement of the decade I acknowledge the career and passion of Cathy Cook.

From the start of my tour of the Saanich Seed Orchard & Nursery, Cathy demonstrated her deep passion for her work. When I heard she was retiring after nearly four decades of service to our forests I knew I needed to highlight her contribution to our province.

Thank you Cathy Cook!


Over the past two years, I’ve spoken a lot about our relationship to trees. Mostly, I’ve talked about how we are cutting them down, but today I’d like to focus on another aspect of the industry.

In 1965, the seed orchard on the Saanich Peninsula, now operated by Western Forest Products, opened its doors. It’s now the oldest continually operating seed orchard in Canada. In 1980, a tree nursery was built, and the first crop of seedlings was produced in 1981. Over the years, the seed orchard has produced enough seed for over 137 million seedlings. Five primary species are harvested from within the coastal forest ecosystem: western red cedar, yellow cedar, Douglas fir, hemlock and spruce.

The fruit of the orchard, such as the one on the Saanich Peninsula, are the cones. Seed is extracted from the cones, and seedlings are grown in the nursery. It’s all a vital part of the reforestation efforts across our province.

On a recent tour of the Saanich Forestry Centre, I immediately recognized that the people who work there strive for excellence. One such individual is a constituent of mine by the name of Cathy Cook. She has worked at the Saanich forestry centre for 39 years. I was immediately taken by Cathy’s passion for her job, which she is retiring from at the end of this year. During her time at the centre, she has managed the seed orchard, pursuing the mission of the orchard through eight different owners.

Under Cathy’s guidance, the nursery has an incredible rate of success. And 2018 was her third-highest rate of germination, at 92.8 percent. Over her career, which includes other seed orchards, Cathy has overseen the development of an incredible 197.2 million plantable seeds. Today I raise my hands to the work Cathy has done over her career, ensuring that our forests can be replanted.

Speaking about relationships, in my brief time with Cathy, I can see that she is deeply connected to each one of the millions of seedlings that she has raised. She leaves behind an impressive legacy, one that will certainly be difficult to follow.

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