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Kenneth Racey was born in Ile d’Orleans, Quebec in 1882, and arrived in B.C. in 1909. He first worked as an accountant at a Port Moody sawmill, and later as a manufacturers’ agent for timber and mining operations in the area that is now known as Sea to Sky country.
In the early 1920s Mr. Racey first rented an old cabin at Mons, later named Alta Lake Station, before he built his own cabin for his family at the south end of Alta Lake. He became an experienced ornithologist (bird expert) and befriended Bill Bailiff, a local trapper and prospector. The wildlife observations and collections of Mr. Racey were the most comprehensive ever made in Whistler. His studies in Whistler spanned over three decades, from 1920 to 1951.
Racey established the presence of 137 bird and 41 mammal species in Whistler, collecting well over 500 specimens. His talent as a preparator is still evident from the superb condition of the specimens he preserved. His private bird and mammal collection formed the basis for the Cowan Vertebrate Museum at the University of B.C., and his specimens now reside in museums across North America. Racey’s achievements seem all the more amazing when one considers that he had no formal training. He was a founding member of the B.C. Ornithologists’ Union and the Burrard Field-Naturalist Club and was a prominent bird collector in the province.
His publications generously credit a host of local contributors: Alex Philip’s find of downy young of the Common Loon on Lost Lake; Osprey observations from Alfred Barnfield; P.D. Lineham’s observations of the Trumpeter Swan; Mrs. Burbridge calling in a Common Loon on Alta Lake; numerous sightings from Billy Bailiff, as well as Fred Woods, Dr. Naismith, and of course, Mrs. Racey and their children Joyce, Allan, and Stuart.