Category Archives: History

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.

Our Cemetery Violated

Granite Creek Cemetery has once again been attacked by irreverent treasure seekers. Over the weekend there were more than sixteen holes dug by someone – presumably in search of interesting historical items. The desecration took place in the Chinese section, so it seems the impostors had some idea in mind relating to that culture, at least as it was in the early days of gold mining in this area. There is a sign at the historic graveyard with a map showing the layout of the plots.

Cemetery Plot Map Sign

The Granite Creek Cemetery is one of the few places where there is a memory of the many Chinese miners who came here and died here. They were not shown much respect in their day, and it behooves us to remember them now as they contributed much more to the life of the day and history of this Province than is generally written about. Other important pioneers of the area, such as Foxcrowle Cook, are also buried here. What some visitors may not know is that this little country graveyard is still in current use by local families, many of whom trace their roots back to those exciting days of the 1880s when Granite Creek attracted hard working pioneers who laid the foundation of what we have here today.

Cook headstone at Granite

For more information on Granite Creek visit

Update, 2017-05-28
A reader has requested that we post pictures of the actual holes dug. Here are four examples. There is an exhumed Chinese grave in each photo, so you can judge the proximity and size of the holes that were dug over the May Long Weekend. This is less than half of them. Some of them overlap, leaving an area about 2 metres across disturbed. This is actually a delicate archaeological situation and requires more than usual sensitivity on the part of visitors.

grave site disturbance (1)

grave site disturbance (2)

grave site disturbance (3)

grave site disturbance (4)

Granite Shows New Life

GCPS web site picture
By George Elliott

Signs of Life Coming to Granite Creek

The 1885 Gold Rush in the Similkameen Valley centred on the tiny creek near present day Coalmont that was named Granite. A settlement grew at the site and miners arrived from as far away as California looking for new rivers and creeks to mine. Within two decades after being partially rebuilt following a fire in 1907, the community was largely abandoned and has been known as a ghost town since the 1930’s.

The Granite Creek Preservation Society was formed in 2013. The group’s mandate is hefty considering the historic significance of the once thriving gold town. The GCPS desires to protect the territorial integrity of the town site. Through their efforts they have worked to provide an understanding of the importance of the historical, archaeological and geological aspects of the ghost town and surrounding land. The group has taken on this task in order to encourage continued study of the significance of the historic gold mining town.

It took the GCPS 18 months of hard work to reach a major step in their preservation efforts. That was when they were granted a License of Occupation with the approval of the RDOS. The LoO is a requirement before any kind of physical preservation can take place at the town site. The GCPS has had a self-guided interpretive walking tour on their radar for years. The LoO allows them to proceed with a plan, with the assistance of the RDOS, to place a total of ten story boards/interpretive signs at Granite. Two will be in the area of the Granite Creek Cemetery with the remaining eight to appear within the footprint of the ghost town site.

Each sign will feature photos of landmarks or buildings as they once appeared and a documentation of what may have happened at the location during the height of Granite Creek’s popularity. Signs will recount significant activities, identify key community leaders and important buildings adding to the experience of walking the streets of what was once one of the largest settlements in British Columbia.
Grant applications are currently in process to assist with funding this exciting development of bringing life to Granite.

Cemetery Also Set To Come Back To Life

Prompted by contact by Consumer Protection BC, the GCPS is in the process of becoming the Operator of the Granite Creek Cemetery, which was closed in 2007. Although the group had been unofficially taking care of the cosmetic appearance of the Cemetery as well as researching and documenting burial records for the site, they recently opted to apply to become the official Cemetery Operator.

The process is complicated as it involves several steps, the first being obtaining a Lease for the property where the Granite Creek Cemetery sits. The goal of the Society is to reopen the Cemetery to allow for full body burials, cremated remain interments and the scattering of cremains for residents (and the families of residents) of Coalmont, Granite Creek and Blakeburn. The group is early in the stages to reopen the Cemetery and is hopeful they will achieve this goal within 2017.

Letters of Support for the GCPS becoming the official Operator of the Granite Creek Cemetery can be filed online at this link or comments can be mailed to the Senior Land Officer, Thompson-Okanagan, MFLNRO, at 441 Columbia Street in Kamloops, BC V2C 2T3.

You can also support the Granite Creek Preservation Society by becoming a Member. Membership is $10 per year and you can join online at Or if you prefer, you can just make a donation to support the efforts of the GCPS in preserving the ghost town and Cemetery.

Please visit the Granite Creek Preservation Society web site.

Our Historical Artifacts At Risk By Radical Move

The Princeton Museum and Archives houses some of our most dear historical artifacts from this area. Individuals and families have donated their heirlooms and fonds so that they will survive into the future and be available for generations to come. This, along with education and interpretation, is the job with which a museum society is tasked and which is the core of their constitution. Museums can often raise money and provide a focus for tourism, but that is only relevant in as much as it benefits their main goals, and not as ends in themselves.

The Princeton and District Museum and Archives Society has been in existence and run by volunteers since the 1950s. Currently there is a part time manager who makes the whole thing run smoothly. These last few weeks a plan by the Town of Princeton to take over the museum has come to light. Exactly what they believe to be “the museum” is not clear yet, but it looks like they are asking the Museum Society to dissolve and give the collections to them. This is putting the artifacts at risk because the town has no mandate such as a museum society does. Presumably some new legal document would be written up, but obviously that could not be sanctioned or approved by the people who had made donations in the past. These people made a deal with the museum society and not with the Town of Princeton.

At this point it is not known what the outcome will be. We do know that the building is owned by the town. We also know that the museum society is an official repository of First Nations artifacts in the valley. The First Nations view of a possible transfer is not known. In any case, this is going to be an interesting situation which will no doubt bring out some heated discussion between those who support the traditional role of one of our oldest cultural institutions in the area, and those who wish to see a more radical political and business approach as the way forward.

If you are interested in participating in these discussions and becoming a member of the Museum, please come to the Annual General Meeting Thursday 17 March, 7 pm at the Museum on Vermilion.

Hot Weather

The current British Columbia heat wave is even more impressive here. Yesterday we got up to 38°C – possibly more. The last time it was this hot around here was in 1996, and that was “only” 34 degrees. There were records broken in several other areas. At 41.1°C Lytton takes the prize as usual.

Perhaps because it is still early in the summer, there are fewer restrictions on fires than one might expect. Specifically, forest use is unrestricted and campfires are permitted, but burning of waste is prohibited as is grass burning and anything more than a small well controlled fire. For ban and restriction details, see the Open Fire Bans in Kamloops Fire Centre page.

The British Columbia Wildfire Management Branch has an up-to-date web page of Fire Prohibitions and Area Restrictions. It’s probably a good idea to bookmark that.   §

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

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

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.   §

A Tale of Three Trails

Friday evening’s informational meeting in Tulameen regarding trails was very well attended. In fact one person in the audience pointed out that he hadn’t seen such a turnout for a while and that this was surely testimony to the fact that here is an issue which many people care about. However, the issue which many in the audience had expected to confront, was apparently not the thrust of what the presenters had intended.

Planned speakers were the Regional District Parks and Facilities Coordinator Justin Shuttleworth, president of the China Ride Trails and historical trail researcher Kelly Cook, and Bob Coyne who is our Regional Representative, but for this occasion was here on behalf of China Ridge Trails Society. On hand also was Ken Reeve from the Vermilion Trails Society.

The meeting was sponsored by the Tulameen Community Club who had sent out notice with the following call.

ATTENTION! Mountain bikers, hikers, walkers, quadders, dirt bikers, snowmobilers. ALL users of the Trans Canada Trail and all other trails in our area…. now is the time to find out what/where/when/how you can and will be able to use the trails now and in the future.

Perhaps that is what set the audience’s expectation. It certainly became clear soon after the meeting started that a fair section of the audience, and certainly the notable number of Coalmontians present, were there to air their displeasure with how they felt about their access to the trails in general – mostly regarding the new Provincial off-road motorized vehicle regulations as this has fired up many people.

Justin Shuttleworth is the Parks and Facilities Coordinator for the Regional District. He claims to have no agenda regarding the KVR trail but says he has put a lot of time into this. He is concerned with trail maintenance and explains that it is currently being done through Vermilion Trails Society. His stance on usage is that it is, and should be, “respect based”. It is interesting to note that there are 5 active Trans Canada Trail groups in the RDOS. Currently the district jurisdiction stops 11 km short of Brookmere, but they’re trying to get that section included. The most interesting part of his presentation was regarding the recent slide by the second trestle on the KVR. Shuttleworth says that the geotech report just came in today and they will be looking at that to determine the way forward. He feels confident that money will be found to clear up the slide but it could take a little while. The best case scenario would see the job finished by the end of summer.

Bob Coyne’s presentation about the China Creek trails was short but informative. He points out that the reason that they request non-motorized only use is that it causes a lot of damage to the snow grooming equipment and actually costs them time and money, neither of which they have a lot of. Here, Kelly Cook interjects that it would really be better to avoid the negative expression “non-motorized” and instead talk about “self propelled”. They have single track bike trails and 40 km of trail which they maintain in the winter time. Coyne also says that the China Creek trails are all designed for family use. There was some argumentative resistance from the floor regarding the China Creek policies, but in the end it looked like people understood that there is access for everybody to that area and that it is imperative that certain trails be designated for specific uses or it won’t work.

Kelly Cook presented on her research and work with the Hudson Bay Heritage Trail. This is the fur trail, and not to be confused with the Dewdney Trail. In fact it has roots going back much further in history. But perhaps the most significant local role, indeed in Canadian history, is that this trail as used by the Hudson’s Bay formed the basis of Canada establishing sovereignty in this area. The trailhead is at the Tulameen museum and it goes all the way to the Coquihalla. It is unfortunate that there is no parking in Tulameen for those who want to start a hike there, but perhaps that can be remedied in the future. More work will be done to manage trail usage and we can expect to hear a lot about this exciting project in the future.

There was not anything to fault or argue with in Kelly Cook’s presentation, but throughout the rest of the meeting one could sense that much of the audience was there to get answers about motorized trail usage – specifically on the KVR.

Ken Reeve gave an inspired talk about community based choices. He advocates that the communities through which the KVR trail runs, should have the major say in what it will look like in their section. No one disagreed with that. However, as it turns out, Reeve was well prepared to answer the questions that many had really come with. He has talked with the RCMP regarding their plans. They have funding to enforce the new law and they intend to pursue a zero tolerance policy. Unregistered off-road vehicles will be confiscated – even if they are being transported, as there is a hope that this will cut down on thefts. Also, drivers must be 16 or over and hold a valid drivers license. This elicited some reaction from the audience, with one person yelling “you gotta be an idiot to not let your kid ride a dirt bike!” It seems that the new regulations will take some time for people to accept. Many want to vent about the changes, but at this point there is not really much to discuss. The information is available many places and will be given to people when they go to get their ORV license and insurance. (see earlier article) The issues about what to do with trail maintenance and individual community choices is still alive and well. Perhaps most important to many people who attended this meeting is that, at least in our area, the KVR will remain open to quads.   §

Signs To Honour Our History

New Smart Road Sign

There is now a smart new Smart Road sign. Thanks go to Chris Goodfellow, Brad Hope, and the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen for making this happen.

The earlier sign, paid for by the community, was stolen. The previous District Director, Brad Hope, subsequently persuaded the Regional District to provided a new one. The mounting of the sign was, however, left to the community. Chris Goodfellow volunteered his services and as you can see from the picture, did a splendid job. Read the original Courier story here.

Another sign had gone missing earlier last year. That was the memorial sign placed near the site of the old post office in the, now gone, town of Blakeburn. People were working and living there a few years before the post office opened in 1922, but everything closed in 1940 and it became a ghost town.

The Coalmont community had decided that it was important to put a memorial sign on the site to commemorate the place where people, some of whom are still around, were born, lived and went to school. Quite a few also died in the 1930 explosion.

Again, it was Chris Goodfellow who volunteered to do the work. The last one was also a community effort and the actual metal sign had been provided by James and Sharon McCulloch, who had the foresight to get two, just in case. Read the original Courier story here.

New Blakeburn Sign

BC Heritage Week

The theme for Heritage Week 2015 in British Columbia is Main Street: At The Heart of the Community.

The Coalmont Hotel is still the defining structure of Main Street, and our town. The picture below shows the original bank and drug store which are long gone because it is more practical to go elsewhere for those services. In their place we now have the splendid log home built by the Goodfellows. Along the way we have the Mozey-On-Inn, the office of which is a heritage building and the motel addition is in heritage style. Like many other places in BC, our Main Street has followed the history and evolution of a community.
Main Street Coalmont

Main Street Coalmont

Main Street Coalmont

You can see some more historical pictures of Main Street on the Coalmont Hotel History page.    §

The Granite Creek Machine Gun Fund

Life in remote Granite Creek in 1915 was not blind to the battles on far-off shores. Stories of war had reached the residents. Those who couldn’t join the fight did what they could to help the cause. A meeting in Princeton organized by Lieutenant-Colonel William Norman Winsby roused the locals and it was decided that Princeton and the surrounding towns would begin a “Machine Gun Fund” for the 47th Battalion. Two weeks would be allowed for subscriptions to be collected.

Lieutenant-Colonel Winsby was the commander of the 47th which was mobilized in New Westminster with recruitments made in New Westminster, Victoria and Vancouver. The 47th Battalion which was formed in February, 1915 served in France and Flanders. The Battalion was disbanded in 1920.

Foxcrowle Percival Cook was in charge of collecting money in Granite Creek and Louis Napoleon Marcotte canvassed nearby Coalmont. Men, women, teens, shopkeepers, Chinese, and prospectors gave what they could. Donations ranged from 50¢ to a whopping $30 (about $697 today) by F.P. Cook. Even Madam Hattie McBride donated $5 (about $116 today). An Ice Cream Social held at the Granite Creek Hotel raised $12.30 and a “lucky dollar” was thrown into the pot. In all, $116.30 was raised by the locals in Granite Creek and Coalmont. To put this amount in perspective, in 2014 dollars that would be approximately $2,704.00!

During WW1, 620,000 Canadian troops were mobilized. 58,990 were killed and missing (9.5%). 149,710 were injured (24.1%). 2,820 were taken as prisoners of war (.5%).

Story submitted by Diane Sterne. For more Granite Creek history see the Granite Creek Preservation Society web site.

Maryanne Woodford

10 May 1951 – 6 June 2014

Maryanne Woodford

Maryanne was born in Prince Rupert BC, and raised in and around Stewart BC, where she met and married her husband, William (Bill) Woodford, in 1969. They moved around BC for several years, lived in the Yukon for 10 years, relocated to Princeton area in 1983, finally to Coalmont in 1985.

Maryanne is remembered by the dedicated and tireless volunteer work throughout the communities of Coalmont, Princeton and Tulameen. Most notably are the countless years she dedicated herself to the Fall Fair. She loved her pets, gardening, crafts such as knitting and crocheting and being creative with the magic tree. She also had a passion for cooking and would teach her skills to anyone who was around. Fresh bread and canning was always being prepared though out the year and there was always a hot meal on the table with more than enough to go around.

Maryanne leaves memories with her family: Daughters – Jody and Sherry, Son – Garnet, Grand Children – Drew and Elyssa, Brothers – David and Richard, Sisters – Heather and Virginia, and several nephew and nieces. Not to mention everyone who had had the pleasure of knowing her.

One of her most remarkable characteristics would be for Maryanne’s determination and attitude towards life events; she never would let the hard times diminish her spirit and always would have a smile on her face and have a kind word about and to everyone.

Maryanne will be honoured in a Celebration of Life on the 28 June 2014, 1853 Columbia Street, Coalmont BC (Behind the Hotel) starting at 2 PM. Maryanne made it quite clear that she wanted everyone to get together, listen to good music, eat and have a good time.

The family would like all Memorial Contributions be donated to the Tulameen and District Fire Department.   §

RDOS Regional Heritage Strategy

The Regional District has been asking people what their connection to the region is and why this place is important to them. There were several public consultations already, but that was just the first round of public engagement. However if you didn’t hear about it (many didn’t) and still want to add your input, you can go to the RDOS web site and fill out the questionnaire on-line.

The approach that is being taken is a little different from what one might expect. They put it like this:

The Strategic Plan will identify important themes in the history of the Okanagan – Similkameen and, through public consultation, identify the heritage values and historic places that are important to the community. Based on these values, the Plan will outline the vision, goals and direction for the conservation and development of the region’s heritage resources, for the benefit of all communities in the region.

These are lofty goals indeed. Whether the public input will offer sufficiently rich data to be really meaningful to this perspective remains to be seen. Most people seem to understand the value of physical history and historic sites, but are less clear on sociology as it pertains to history.

There is a preliminary report “Regional Heritage Strategic Plan for the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen”. This already contains the basics, although there are a considerable number of factual errors. Some of them quite significant. Hopefully the researchers will take the time to consult with those who know the history of the area so that these errors don’t get carried forward. In any case, the intersection of academic study and the society under view is not always easy to pin down. As someone who wrote to us said:

My overall view is that it is way too deep and complex for the average person. There were parts of it I didn’t understand at all. Throughout the booklet there are orange sidebar blocks that ask specific questions. The reader is invited to give feedback on those questions to “help shape the forthcoming community consultation process, and help refine this Heritage Strategic Plan study”. An example of two of these sidebar blocks are: “Why is the theme of indigenous ingenuity so important to the heritage of Okanagan-Similkameen? What elements of this theme have not been addressed here?” and “what is the significance of regional governance to the heritage of Okanagan-Similkameen?” I found those questions too deep for my simple mind to wrap around. In fact, I felt like I was answering exam questions in school.

Hopefully we can all agree that paying attention to our heritage is important. It follows that it is a good idea to make some policy and set a course for future actions. You can read more about this project on the RDOS web site.  §

A Sign At Blakeburn

To mark and commemorate the lost town of Blakeburn, there is now a sign near where the company store and post office was once located.

It’s been 73 years since the power was turned off in Blakeburn and everybody moved away. With the ravages of time there is almost nothing left on the site and it is completely overgrown. Some people thought that was a shame. Bert Rice suggested at one of the Coalmont Community Association meetings that we should erect a sign. Everyone agreed, and the wheels were set in motion.

It turned out to be a project involving a number of people. I designed the graphic. Sharon and James McCulloch got the actual sign made (see previous story) and paid for it out of their own money. Chris Goodfellow then bought lumber and built the structure. That’s when his father, Eric Goodfellow saw the project and was thrilled that the place where he used to go as a kid was finally being honoured. The Goodfellows go back a long way in this area. (See Goodfellow Creek.) Eric then offered to procure a metal cap to finish off the top of the sign. To further show his appreciation he also donated $100 to the Community Association. He then went to the Tin Man where Fred Robbins made the generous gesture of doing the work for free since he too thought it was a good cause.

Placing the posts Blakeburn sign

This morning a small party consisting of myself, Chris and Penny Goodfellow, and Eileen Walsh, went up Blakeburn Road, turned left onto Arrasta Creek Forest Service Road and stopped at the original site of the Blakeburn store and post office. Waiting for us there was Bert Rice with his mini excavator on its trailer. Bert is clearly an artist with that machine. It didn’t take long for him to clear a spot, dig the holes, and arrange some rocks to make the place look nice. Now there is finally a marker for this unique little mining town of Blakeburn. People who travel up that way to explore or pay homage to the history will no longer come back saying they couldn’t find it.

Blakeburn Sign Party
Left to right: Bert Rice, Chris and Penny Goodfellow, Eileen Walsh.

Some may wonder about the dates on the sign. It is not clear exactly when the site really became the town of Blakeburn since it happened gradually at first. What is clear is when the name became official. That was August 1, 1922 when the post office opened. The post office continued until it was officially closed on June 15, 1940. Although the last shift at the mine already finished on April 8, it was the day after that the last sigh of a once proud mine was heard. On April 9 the steam power plant was turned off and the company whistle sounded for a very long time until all the steam was gone. That was really the end. ~ Ole Juul

Bert Rice Mini Excavator 250-295-6218 ~ Custom work available on short notice.
The Tin Man Metal Roofing 250-295-3743 ~ Metal roofing sales and installation.

Granite Creek Preservation Society

There was a meeting this afternoon at the Riverside Centre about Granite Creek. Twelve people attended, including Area ‘H’ director Brad Hope and long time Coalmont area resident Edith Rice, and it was decided to form the Granite Creek Preservation Society. George Elliot is the Chairman, Diane Sterne is Vice-Chair, John Bartlett is the Secretary, Tamara Malanchuk is Treasurer. Directors are: Todd Lester, Terry Malanchuk, and Ole Juul who will be in charge of Communications. Jon Bartlett will complete the paperwork necessary to form the society as he is very familiar and experienced with this sort of thing.

Granite Creek is an important historical place in British Columbia. It was the site of a substantial, though short, gold rush. Although the original population dwindled quickly, it was still a town of note for a number of years following – not the least because of its location in the heart of the Tulameen mining district.

This mining history in itself is noteworthy, but Granite was also the starting point for many immigrants to the area. There are still a number of families in the vicinity who can trace their first arrival to Granite.

The collection and preservation of information regarding such a place warrants serious attention. As for original building structures, little remains, but it is still possible that something can be preserved. The site itself has potential as a park. Memorial, educational, and interpretive structures could be of value. §

Edit: Since this is an important beginning, it is appropriate to list all the people who were present and who are the founding members. They are: Jon Bartlett, W. George Elliott, Brad Hope, Ole Juul, Todd Lester, Heather Lutz, Tamara Malanchuk, Terry Malanchuk, Edith Rice, Rika Rubesat, Bob Sterne, Diane Sterne. Membership is open to anyone with an interest in Granite but the Society registration needs to be in place before anything becomes official and a membership list can be compiled. For the time being, questions can be sent to granite (at) area-h (dot) org.