White Rock History Club founders Herb Spencer (above

Club casts a ‘search light’ on the past

Local history buffs to meet monthly at White Rock Library

History buffs and aficionados on the Semiahmoo Peninsula have a new forum to relive the past with the White Rock History Club.

Formed five months ago by David Cotton and Herb Spencer, the monthly meet-up at White Rock Library aims to fill a hole in the community for those who wish to delve into stories from days gone by with fellow history fans.

“Both David and I have had a lifelong interest in history – he professionally and me as a hobby,” Spencer said, noting Cotton taught classics at St. John’s College of the University of Oxford in England for 35 years. “By profession, I’m a physicist, but I regard that as a training, not an education.

“I find history as the best laboratory for studying human behaviour. Ethically, we can’t do experiments on humans, but history gives us a kind of search light into different attempts at how humans behave in regards to each other.”

Five months ago, after initially meeting at the White Rock Philosopher’s Café, the two began to discuss the idea of creating a similar forum for history fans.

“We got talking about how we never really get into detail within the structure of the Philosophy Café with some of these more interesting historical aspects,” Spencer said.

After asking Cotton to review an essay on the history of Conservatism he had written, Spencer said both men agreed that it would be useful to discuss topics, like the one in the essay, in a more open forum with more voices added to the discussion.

Adding to the reasons to form a club was the sudden ending of a night class Cotton taught five years ago, which had left interested students without an avenue to pursue further education in history.

Once both agreed to form the White Rock History Club, Spencer inquired about spacing at the library and jumped at the last remaining space – the last Monday of each month.

Since the idea came to fruition, the duo has hosted three sessions of the club in the library’s meeting room, drawing between 20 to 30 people to discuss topics such as classical Greek democracy, the history of Conservatism and most recently, hunter and gatherer societies of the past.

“They have been very well-received. We want this to be a discussion, not just a lecture series. And it’s open to everyone, not just those with a professional history background,” Spencer said, noting the hunter and gatherer session was hosted by an anthropologist. “I think we’ve really tapped into something.”

The summer will feature speakers focusing Alaska’s contentious history following its sale to the U.S. from Russia, White Rock’s rail history, as well as Spencer’s wife, Eileen, who will lead a discussion on the history of women in August.

“It is sure to be quite provocative,” he laughed.

For more information on the White Rock History Club, call Spencer at 604-542-2299.

The next session on the history of printing will take place June 24 at 7 p.m.



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