Community Engagement

Serving up learning at Loon Lake: Peter Bentley makes largest-ever gift to Forestry

Bentley Family Hall - Peter and Sheila Bentley_crop
Peter and Sheila Bentley. Photo: Don Erhardt


Forestry students, children with cancer, community groups and corporate teams are all eating better at Loon Lake thanks to a gift from philanthropist and honorary UBC alumnus Peter Bentley.

Loon Lake Research and Education Centre is in the heart of the Malcolm Knapp Research Forest in Maple Ridge. Since 1949 it has hosted thousands of forestry students, children at Camp Goodtimes, and participants in corporate and community retreats.

By 2013, the dining hall at Loon Lake had seen better days. Originally intended for field school students, it was serving 70,000-80,000 meals each year. People had to eat outside, rain or shine. Burst water lines and other inconveniences were not uncommon.

On a tour of Loon Lake, Peter said, “I was so impressed with the facilities; it reminded me of my young days out in the woods. But when we went to lunch in the dining hall I saw a few holes.” He adds, with his customary understatement, “I wanted to do something for UBC and I thought this would be useful.”

Thanks to Peter’s $1 million gift, the new Bentley Family Hall was officially opened on October 1, 2015.

Bentley Family Hall. Photo: Don Erhardt
Bentley Family Hall. Photo: Don Erhardt

The new dining hall has a seating capacity of 150 people, up from 90 in the old hall. The kitchen size has doubled. The building has a post and beam timber frame made of Douglas firs harvested from the Research Forest and milled and planed in its sawmill.

Much of the dimension lumber and finish materials were donated by forest companies including West Fraser Mills Ltd., Interfor Corporation, Western Forest Products Inc., Canfor, Cedarland Forest Products Ltd., and Andersen Pacific Forest Products Ltd.

The Bentley Family Hall will enable Loon Lake to thrive for the benefit of future generations of students, researchers, children, educators and community organizations. This project is the final stage of Loon Lake’s redevelopment, which began over a decade ago.

Peter‘s gift to the Faculty is the largest philanthropic investment from an individual it has ever received. “I’m glad to be in a position to help,” he says. “I’m an alumnus and so is my wife, and three of my five children are alumni too. UBC is a great university!”