British Columbia

Seeds buried in 1967 time capsule will be replanted to find out how B.C. crops have changed

A collection of seeds from Dawson Creek, B.C. from 1967 will be replanted this year to find out how the region's plants have changed.

Seeds were chosen by wheat pool manager from Dawson Creek, B.C.

An agricultural hub, Dawson Creek once had 13 wooden grain elevators, although by the 1960s new technology reduced the number needed to just two. (Dawson Creek Art Gallery)

A collection of seeds buried since 1967 are going back in the ground this year — only this time they'll be allowed to grow as part of an agricultural experiment to see how crops have changed in the last half-century.

The seeds, contained in vials, were placed in Dawson Creek, B.C.'s centennial time capsule in 1967 by Harold Lindballe, who was a seed buyer for the Alberta Wheat Pool at the time.

Now 84 , Lindballe said he never expected to see the seeds again.

"It never even dawned on me," he said.

He chose the seeds, which have names like "Frontier" rye and "Gateway" barley, to reflect the agricultural industry of northeast British Columbia at the time. According to historical documents collected by the South Peace Historical Society, Dawson Creek was referred to as an "inland empire" due to the success of local crops ranging from flax to rapeseed. 

They were then placed in a time capsule with the instructions to be opened on July 1, 2017.

When mayor Dale Bumstead discovered the seeds, he wanted to know if they would still grow.

"To be able to have the opportunity to plant those seeds, and grow them, and think those were part of the history of our community... there's something kind of magical about that," he said.

Wheat, barley, oats and others seeds from 1967 will be planted near Dawson Creek this spring to find out how crops have changed. (Dale Bumstead)

To that end, he's passed them along to the B.C. Grain Producer's Association to be germinated.

Association president Rick Kantz said it's tough to say whether the seeds will be viable, but it will be interesting to see if the plants have changed over the years.

"Whether they're tall or short or how many seeds there are on a head... It's going to show where we've come from," he said.

With file from George Baker

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