Coalmont was buzzing on Saturday. The big tent was set up on the corner of Parrish and Columbia. The BBQ was manned by Terry and Bruce who, with help from Marianne Slaeger and others, pumped out the hamburgers until they ran out in the afternoon. The smell must have wafted all the way to Princeton, because there were a lot of visitors. In fact Terry Malanchuck, who keeps track of these things for the Blakeburn reunions and can recognize where most locals come from, says he counted over 200 coming through, and believes there were almost 300. Others say around 150 but either way, for our little town, that is extraordinary!
It is rare to see that many people all together in this community. In fact, there probably hasn’t been as many gathered here since the 30s! The Coalmont centennial was indeed well marked. All this was possible thanks to Coalmont Energy Corporation who sponsored the event. Steve Dimond from CEC was on hand and in addition to giving a dinner speech about how this sponsorship came about, provided music with his portable sound system.
Many people in Coalmont put in a good effort here, but the star was definitely Lillian Young who organizes the annual Blakeburn Reunion and pulled together our Centennial Dinner with skill and grace. Lillian was born in Coalmont and grew up here in the 20’s and 30s. She has a lot of history here and can even remember MacTavish, the General Store proprietor, pulling the kids’ sleighs around with his new motor car – yes, times have changed.
As well as curious visitors and newcomers, there were quite a few old-timers such as Evelyn McCallum (left) and Edith Rice, pictured below. Evelyn is one of our local historians for the Princeton area and was recently awarded the first honorary life membership of the Princeton and District Museum and Archives. Edith we all know here. She has a long history in this area, including coming to Coalmont in the 40s and working the Roany Creek Ranch. There were many others from the old days, too numerous to mention, but it was fantastic to have them all here.
One of the features of the party was a display of historical pictures supplied by Bob and Diane of the Mozey-On-Inn. These proved to be very popular and they occupied many people’s interest. Terry Malanchuck spent a lot of time answering questions about them. At the end Bob came and announced that anyone could take one of the photos home, which made quite a few people very happy. The New Coalmont Courier also provided a little commemorative history flyer with a picture of the tipple on the front for people to take home and save as a memento. To complete the memorabilia, there were buttons and T-shirts available at the Coalmont Kiosk which had it’s grand opening this same day.
In the early evening the party slowed down as people went home, or continued on to the dance in Tulameen. The clean-up was quickly accomplished by enthusiastic volunteers such as Bob Reid, and in fact the whole affair really was a community effort. This was certainly a day to remember. §