Category Archives: About Town

Emporium Gone Now

The Emporium was the only store in Coalmont for many years but closed in 1988. It was built by Walt Smart and he moved from his previous location across the street in what is now called the Coalmont General Store. The hope was to add a second story later. That never came to be, and now it is all gone.

On Monday, June 26 Bob Reichert arrived with his big excavator and demolition began. The building had become quite derelict and there was not much to save except the memories. The new owners of the property plan to landscape the lot. One thing is for sure, the old familiar view when you enter Coalmont is very different and will take a little while to get used to.

The excavator starts work
The excavator starts work.
Most of the building is down
It doesn’t take long before most of it is ready to haul away.
The view at the beginning of town is different now
The view at the entrance to town is very different now.
View of Emporium July 19, 2015
Here is what the building looked like on July 19, 2015.

Abie Moving On

Abie - Eberhardt Nipkov
One of the well known personalities on the Coalmont landscape is moving. Abie, who’s real name is Eberhardt Nipkov, has lived here since 2003. He first visited this area in the 70s, but it was in the 90’s that he started coming to stay at the Granite Creek Forestry campsite. Even back then he was known for his red diesel VW Rabbit, a model who’s engine and mechanical details he probably now knows better than most people ever will.

His attitude of tenaciously insisting on conquering mechanical items in his life is in his blood. His grandfather, Paul Nipkov, was the inventor of mechanical television which paved the way for modern television.

Abie is now settling into a new life in Princeton.    §

Kiaira’s Art Cart

Kiaria Anderson

Kiaira Anderson has opened a new business in Coalmont. You may have seen it as you drive by the Hotel. This is our traditional business corner and Kiaira brings her Art Cart here on many days. She sells baked goods and crafts so please stop and have a look. §
Kiaria Anderson and her Art Cart

Little Coalmont

The little village of Coalmont just got smaller – a whole lot smaller!!! Brian Swanton of Lion’s Head, Ontario has been reconstructing a G-scale garden railroad of the Kettle Valley Railway. Among other towns that he is recreating for his model, is the town of Coalmont. This isn’t a toy train set he’s building – this is art combined with history!

Mr. Swanton contacted the Sternes for photographs of old buildings in Coalmont so that his replicas can be as accurate as possible to the originals. His skills are truly amazing. The model is complete with mini people, mini cars, mini trees – well, you get the idea. His outdoor setup is approximately 60 feet by 40 feet with an indoor area of 25 feet by 4 feet. The outdoor track length is 580 feet and the indoor track area is 150 feet. Sit back and enjoy a ride on Mr. Swanton’s train and see Coalmont’s very own “mini me”. A Youtube video of his setup is on Youtube.

Below are some close-ups of Swanton’s Coalmont recreations. The September/October edition of “Garden Railway Magazine” will include an article about his railway.  ~ Diane Sterne

Old Coalmont Courier buildingCoalmont General Store


Coalmont HotelCoalmont Station

Horses Found On Auction

One of the Coalmont horses

A reader has spotted the horses which were here last summer and which subsequently disappeared, leaving us wondering about their fate. Coalmont resident Debbie Hong sent in this interesting information about the current whereabouts of these seemingly neglected animals. Debbie writes:

“This ad was posted on the Facebook Page BC Auction Horses. I can’t seem to post the pics but unfortunately they are the ones that are gone, but not forgotten, from Coalmont.”

“These horses are booked into Valley Auction’s THURSDAY Feb 25th SALE…. viewing will be permitted from Saturday the 20th on at the Valley Auction Sale Yard. Please remember these horses have been abandoned since June 2015 and MUST BE SOLD THROUGH PUBLIC AUCTION….. no one is to attempt purchasing them private prior to the sale…. go meet them…. they are super friendly and looking for attention. Please also note, there is no registration papers or confirmation of age available, these are just guesses listed below…..

1) Black stallion, thinking around 4 years old.
1) Buckskin, seems gelded, maybe coming 2 years old.
1) Mature bay brood mare, seems heavily in foal, quiet and gentle, stands about 14hh if that.
1) solid face bay mare, might be coming 2.
1) wide blazed bay mare might be coming 5.
1) bay mare with star stripe snip seems to be about 3 years old….

“I guess someone was tired of feeding someone elses horses since last summer and is now trying to recoup the cost of the feed and care, this being a brutal winter when it comes to the cost of hay. Hopefully they find homes and do not end up in the meat buyers pen, not that there is anything wrong with slaughtering horses but these ones are deserving of a long term home.”    ~ Debbie Hong

Previous stories here and here.

Where’s The Phone?

As we all know, our Telus payphone eventually did get installed, thanks to the hard work of Bob and Diane Sterne who were simply not going to give up.

Unfortunately, after all that we still got somebody with an emergency need wandering around town because they couldn’t find the payphone. No wonder. Telus had provided us with a sign, but it was only visible if you had a view up and down Front Street. So, the Sterns put further pressure on Telus and it payed off.

Today, there was a package from Telus with an additional sign and Bob put it up right away. Hopefully now someone traveling on Parrish (at Coalmont Road), or even along the KVR trail, will be able to see it.

Thanks to Bob and Diane Sterne, as well as David Fowler from Telus, for getting this happening for us.

Bob installing signTwo signs now

Just A Note

Sorry We're Closed sign

The Coalmont is closed. The food cart is gone. There’s no party tonight.

Chris and Sylvia had a good run and a lot of fun was had at the Coalmont Hotel since they re-opened the pub on October 28, 2013. (see story)

We have no more details about what brought this on, and all you’ll see is a note of thanks to the community posted in the window.

Note:

Montgomery Warren Sings About Hattie

Montgomery Warren

Diane Sterne writes: “A musician named Montgomery Warren stayed with us and has written a song about Hattie McBride. I have posted it on YouTube.

Written and performed by musician Montgomery Warren, this song depicts the life of Madam Hattie McBride who was murdered in Coalmont, B.C. in November, 1920. Her beautiful headstone can be seen at the Granite Creek Cemetery and fortunate visitors may smell her flowery perfume as she drifts through town. Her murder was never solved.   §

Horses Gone

Earlier this week the owners of the seven horses came back. They had been away on a working trip for about four weeks. While they were gone, the horses were penned up in a tiny space on crown land next to The Bailey Bridge. The situation had become a community concern and several people put in a lot of work to make sure the animals were fed and watered.

It’s one of those strange Coalmont Stories. Shortly after returning, the couple left town again but the circumstances are less clear this time. According to reports, the horses were taken away in a trailer. All that remains is a well trampled patch and the posts from the electric fence. We can take it for granted that there is also a lot of horse manure and an old travel trailer.

The crown land lot by river

Joe Lucas of Coalmont

Information from Joe Lucas of Coalmont, B.C. Recorded before his move to assisted living in Penticton, B.C. June 24, 2015. ~ By Diane Sterne

Joe Lucas in Coalmont, 2015Joe Lucas was born in London on October 8, 1930. He was a true Cockney because he was born within hearing distance of the Church bells of St. Mary Le Bow. He has a sister and two brothers (plus one deceased). Joe lied about his age to get in the Merchant Marine at the tail end of WWII. The first ship he was on was a tanker. He was in the British Merchant Navy for 10 years. While in London, Joe was a butcher in Brixton, England. He made sausage and cut meat. Joe sailed with his brother, Jack, from Liverpool to New York on the Saxonia. When they arrived in New York they had planned to fly to Vancouver, however there had been a huge snowfall. They were stranded in New York for three days and then took a bus to Chicago and another bus to Vancouver.

Joe continued his trade as a butcher in Vancouver and worked for Kelly Douglas & Co. of the Super Valu chain. From there he went to work for H.Y. Louie Co. of the IGA chain and opened their new store in North Vancouver. Wishing to work for himself, Joe ventured into the cabaret business and owned the El Mocambo Dine and Dance in Burnaby. He was partnered with his wife’s brother. His first wife, Myrna, was a singer in the club. It was the first licensed cabaret in Vancouver that didn’t have a restaurant license. This was in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s.

Eventually Joe and Marilyn left this business and worked for a customs broker in Vancouver.

When Joe and Marilyn decided to retire, they planned on moving to Princeton. They put down a deposit on a house, but it turned out an offer had already been accepted on the property. The Lucas’ decided to move to Coalmont and purchased a building that was about 3 years old. It had not been finished and the lower half of the house was originally built to be a Firehall in Coalmont. This never happened so the Lucas’ purchased it and made it their home. At first they owned three lots and then expanded it by two more lots to include what Joe owns today. The property was eventually amalgamated into one large lot on the corner of Columbia St. and Bettes Ave. Their plan was to live in Coalmont in the summer and Arizona in the winter. Unfortunately on April 2, 2001 while coming home from Arizona, Joe’s wife passed away in Nevada.

Joe has lived in Coalmont for about 25 years and has one son, Mike, who is a professional drag racer in Fort St. John. Joe has travelled the world throughout his exciting life and will be missed when he moves to Penticton sometime in July.

Joe Lucas' house in Coalmont, 2015

Heather Deanne Lutz

Heather Lutz

Heather Lutz

January 24, 1968 – June 4, 2015

Survived by her much loved partner Todd Lester, her mother Margaret Tissuer (Ron) and brother Trevor Lutz (Laura) and her extended Tisseur and Lester families. Predeceased by her father Daniel Lutz in 1996.

Todd has a little house on Columbia and Heather first came here seven years ago. She initially enjoyed walking, rollerblading and bicycling around town, until the disease made it too uncomfortable to do so.

Heather is deeply missed by her family, as well as extended family members, friends, and collegues who loved her.

There will be a Celebration of Life: Sunday, July5, 2015 at 1pm Sullivan Hall at 6306-152 St., Surrey, BC.

Horses In Coalmont Again

There are horses in Coalmont again. This little equine family, which includes a new baby, was looking for a place to stay and has temporarily settled next to Nick’s Gold Pan Inn down by the river. The owners are actively looking for a permanent place. Although the horses are well looked after and happy for the moment, they will need more suitable lodging before the winter – ideally much sooner. Please contact the Courier if you can help.

Family of horses beside Gold Pan Inn

Coalmont used to have lots of horses when the town was first established. There were two liveries on Front Street which were built right at the beginning. One is still there. The Colliers had their stable in upper town and were transporting coal by wagon in the summer and sled in the winter.

A few years back regulations were enacted which disallow the keeping of farm animals in most areas. In fact land use zoning and other by-laws do not actually permit quite a few of the freedoms which Colmontians enjoy. We all want laws to apply to others while we prefer our own exception. That’s human nature. Now we have some horses here again. Hopefully they will be welcome for a little while. Horses represent an important and colourful piece of our history and this could be seen as an opportunity to engage in a little nostalgia – and perhaps also a little tolerance.
~ Ole Juul

Smart Meter Concentrator

First smart meter repeater in town

It looks like Fortis installed the first smart meter concentrator here yesterday.

Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) requires a medium to provide continuous point-to-point communication connectivity. Your smart meter (to be installed next week) needs to connect to an aggregation node and have a data uplink to the AMI Control center. Typically, a local AMI system includes smart meters and data concentrators. Also, each smart meter can serve as a hub or repeater for other smart meter communication with data concentrators.

There are more steps to the whole chain. Obviously what starts at your meter will have to end up in a Fortis control centre. The equipment shown here, located on Main Street, will have backhaul communication. It could connect to satellite or possibly the China Creek Internet tower.   §

Our New Telus Phone Is Here

new payphone on Front Street, 2015
Our new payphone came today. There was no ceremony, no speeches, no band. A pickup drove up and within minutes the job was done. It looks good though. Kudos to Telus for coming through.

It’s a very functional unit from which one can make free 911 calls and all the other calling features which one would expect. No coins, which is probably a good thing because it’s just one less thing to break and for Telus to deal with. There’s a soft glow light inside the top of the hood which is both welcoming and functional. One can also imagine that with the unit being on the wall of the Telus building, the technicians who frequent this location will keep an eye on it, and perhaps even change the light when it goes out.

The new location has advantages and there is no question that the phone looks good there. It’s also nice and private for those who enjoy that. Perhaps the biggest advantage is being off the street so the snow plow won’t block it in the winter time. That driveway is typically kept clear when it snows.

The only drawback of being on the Telus Building, is that it can’t be seen from the Coalmont Road (Parrish Avenue) or the KVR trail. A blue sign was placed on the telephone pole on the corner, right where the old phone booth was located, and that makes it clear that there is a telephone around. But it can’t be seen from there since it is in the woods now. Another sign could probably fix that problem.

It’s been 10 weeks since the original payphone got destroyed on March 29th (story here), but it’s all good now. Telus came up with a phone, and it looks great.

new payphone on Front Street Telus building

new payphone in the woods at dusk

Trail Widening Moving Along

Argo has been ditching the Coalmont Road and when they do that there’s free fill to be had. Today they continued using it to widen the stretch of the KVR between Parrish and the Betts shortcut. As seen in the pictures below, the first half of the block has been done previously, and now they’re continuing on the second half. Area ‘H’ representative Bob Coyne was not aware of any plan involving this work, and the Regional District Parks and Facilities Coordinator, Justin Shuttleworth, was not available for comment. If anybody has any knowledge of what the plan is, and who is behind it, please say so in the comments below.
KVR Parrish to Betts 2015 East

KVR Parrish to Betts 2015 West

UPDATE: Several people with an interest in the KVR have called to say that this is the area where there was a sidetrack on the old railway and because of the width, this would be a good place for a staging area for trail users, and perhaps also a helicopter landing.

Edith Rice and the Overwaitea Timbers

Edith Rice 2015The old Princeton Overwaitea building has been demolished. They started the Friday before Mother’s day and they took pains to save the big beams and stack them carefully to the side. Who knows how far those will survive into the future and what new history they will embody.

Overwaitea has been in Princeton since the thirties. The first store was on the corner where the drugstore now is, and it was there all through WWII. The second store was on Vermilion about where the museum is now, and that location lasted until the big new store was built on Bridge Street.

Edith Rice saw the construction of that building and she remembers some of the people who used to serve her there. Maria Sadegur worked in the new store. And Judy Robinson worked in the Vermilion store and was an employee until she retired. But it was seeing those big timbers that really brought back memories.

Edith lived at the Roany Creek Ranch with her husband Eugene Rice where they operated the E.C. Rice Logging and Sawmilling Company. Eugene passed away in 1999, but Edith is still there and the mill, under the same name, is now operated by their son Ernie Rice.

The original mill was built by Eugene in 1952. Edith says “it was more of a tie mill”, meaning for cutting railway ties. In 1965 Eugene rebuilt the mill to a larger version. He did a lot of the work himself, like the panograph, live rollers and carriage, but the log turner was built in Penticton. Custom sawing became his specialty, and that’s what Ernie still does there.

It was in 1968 before the snow when they got an order from the contractor for those huge beams that went into the Overwaitea building. The beams were 32 feet in length, the longest they could cut. Nobody else in the area could handle lumber that size. Edith remembers taking the invoice to the building site and they had already put the timbers in place. “This would have been fir, pine is not strong enough. The inspectors wouldn’t have passed it otherwise.” It is interesting to note that trees big enough to produce timbers that size would have started growing in the century before Canada’s confederation.

The Overwaitea beams came from the Roany Creek Canyon, which is where Eugene was cutting at the time. He would have bid on lumber and got forestry permission. “It was quite a process – lots of paperwork” Edith said, adding “Once we had a rail car of lumber destined for Africa – through some lumber broker. There was sure a lot of paperwork for that.”

Eugene also cut lumber for customers in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver. He always left at night so he’d be there with the order in the morning. One time he was to go down with a load of wood but the order wasn’t quite finished, so he had to phone down to say that he’d be there the next day instead. That was the night of the largest land slide in Canadian history. The famous Hope slide. Had the order been finished, he would have been right about there when the slide occurred, and the history of the Roany Creek Ranch and Sawmill would have turned out quite differently.   §

Our Payphone Is Coming Back

Telus has just informed us that they intend to replace the payphone. David Fowler, who manages the payphone business for Telus, contacted the Sterns with the good news. He will be working with their technicians to ensure that this new payphone is installed and operational as soon as possible.

Diane Sterne writes:

Mr. Fowler operates out of the Calgary office. He will be working with their technicians to ensure that this new payphone is installed and operational as soon as possible. We are very grateful to Telus for listening to us and coming to a compromise that should work for everyone. We also wish to thank Alex Atamanenko (Federal MP), Jackie Tegart (BC MLA), Bob Coyne (RDOS Area H Rep.), all of their staff, members of the public and the press who instilled in Telus the importance of this much-needed phone. They were all instrumental in helping us arrive at this workable solution.

Mr. Fowler supplied the following details:

  1. The payphone inside the Coalmont Hotel will be removed and replaced by one accessible to the public 24/7 in an outdoor location.
  2. They will be installing that new payphone on the Telus building on the north side of Front Street, just east of the Coalmont Road.
  3. They will be installing a payphone sign(s) at the original booth location directing people to the nearby, new location.
  4. The new payphone will be of a robust design with free calling to 911, credit card calling, collect calls through an operator, but no coin slots.