Category Archives: About Town

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.

Smart Meters Here Next Month

FortisBC will soon be installing advanced meters in Coalmont. We have confirmed that there is indeed a work order for our town, and they will be doing the work between June 22 and June 26. Meter exchanges will take place Monday to Friday between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Just like when your meter is normally read, you do not need to be at home.

Despite motions opposing the installation of smart meters in many municipalities, the provincial government has insisted that installations would proceed. FortisBC started installing the new meters in late 2014, are doing the Similkameen area now, and will finish with the Kootenays in late 2015.

Although the basic technology is considered by some experts to have been outdated long before it was even proposed, Fortis still believes that their implementation carries many advantages. It is not clear just how many of those are of benefit to the end user but they place more billing options, fewer estimates, and online tools, at the top of their list. For a more complete sales pitch on Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI) visit Current privacy concerns appear minimal, but future advanced options offer significant intrusion. At this time three years of data will be available for immediate retrieval and four additional years will be archived.

FortisBC was unable to tell us what the actual implementation of the Coalmont rollout will look like. The basic technology utilizes the spectrum between 902-928 MHz but how the connection will be made here could be different. With no cell coverage, it will likely be through satellite backhaul. The latter is expensive but FortisBC claims that it is still worth it to them in many cases. We will have answers to these kinds of questions after the first meter goes in on June 22nd.   §

Coalmont Food Cart


Coalmont Burger

Chicken on bun

The Coalmont Food Cart is now open and here to stay. Opening times are noon ’til after dinner, Tuesday through Sunday. Prompt service, but if you’re really in a hurry you can call ahead: 250-295-6066.

Coalmont Burger
    Home made beef paddy with lettuce, Monterey Jack cheese, and of course, our smoked onions.

Big Game Bratwurst
    Bison, Venison, and Elk. With smoked onions, Dijon mustard, on a Parisienne bun.

Chicken Sub
    Grilled chicken breast with Tzatziki, cucumber and lettuce.

Good Ol’ Smokie
    The traditional standby with smoked onion and cheese.

Weekend Specials
Watch for smoked meats, pulled pork, smoked brisket, baby back ribs. Menu changes every week.


Chris Berringer

Chris Berringer came here with his partner Sylvia to operate the historic Coalmont Hotel about a year and a half ago (see Coalmont Hotel Open). It has been a great success, not the least because Chris knows how to give people what they want. Now he’s going one step further and offering the food service that customers, indeed the Coalmont area, has been asking for. Open 6 days a week. With the Coalmont Food Cart conveniently right outside the door to the Saloon, you can take your food inside and enjoy it with a beer and company, or you can just pick it up like it was a drive-through. Perhaps the best part is that Chris has been cooking since before many people were born and that means that you know it’s going to be good.   §

Save Your Appetite

Rumour has it that the Coalmont Hotel Food Wagon is coming back very soon.

corner of food cart

It’s out front of the Hotel again, reminding us of how nice it was to have a place to get food without having to drive miles or (shudder) cook. It could be open as early as this weekend. Apparently there are some surprises in store, but you’ll just have to wait. Come back here to find out. We’ll have the story for you.   §

Plan B

Everybody has a phone plan. Some are better than others, but you get what you can afford and now that Telus has turned us down for a replacement payphone we’re looking at plan B. The price is right, but unfortunately includes no long distance.
tin can and string phone

Our plight for an emergency public phone was reported by multiple media outlets today. Global News did a story which ran several times. At 5 p.m. we heard Telus representative Shawn Hall say “The phone’s been damaged multiple times over the last couple of years. Costs us about $5,000 to put a new phone in each time.” That does sound like a lot of money to pay for multiple incidents. However, nobody here remembers more than one time in recent history where there was damage – and that was a broken handset. Is it possible that Hall is including the many times that the phone was non functional because their service to the whole area was borked?

From the Coalmont perspective that phone has been very important for a long time. Some of the serious emergency issues have already been mentioned, but one person from Granite Creek also pointed out that when their kids needed a ride home because the school bus failed to show up in the snow, used the payphone to call home so they could get picked up.

Telus also doesn’t seem to care about providing service to the many people who don’t have a home phone because they are only here on weekends or part time. This payphone is a regular place for some to stop and make a call when coming from Tulameen or the coal mine. There are also several people in town who can’t afford a phone and they can be seen at the booth several times a week. Again, Hall has a different perspective: “It’s a very, very low use phone. Used really only a few times a month. We just couldn’t justify putting a phone back in after this last time it was damaged.

One can understand that a full replacement is indeed expensive and that this phone didn’t make a lot of money. In fact no one ever remembers seeing someone come to collect money from the box – and that includes yours truly whose front window looks directly down on said phone booth. But there is more to corroborate Telus’ tale of woe. Several regular users confide that you didn’t actually need money to use that phone. It’s impossible to confirm that now, but could it be that Telus was actually looking for an excuse to stop that service? They do seem to go to some length to deny anything that could prove value to them or a need for us. In fact it’s starting to look like their plan A is our plan B.    ~ Ole Juul

Abandoned by Telus

Telus has informed us that they do not intend to replace the pay telephone here in Coalmont.

The location of the, now gone, payphone was just at the entrance to town and the first thing you see when either coming here by road or traveling through on the trail. It was well known to recreational off-road vehicle enthusiasts who relied on it being there should they need to call 911 while in the area.

Vic Verdi, Executive Customer Relations Adviser at Telus wrote in an e-mail this morning. “I have spoken with a few team members about getting the payphone replaced. Given the costs associated to replace this, we are not prepared to replace the payphone at this time.

This is not good news for this community, nor for the Trans Canada Trail users. This public telephone was the only way of getting emergency help in the area. There is no cell service.

Telus has a different view. “There is a payphone available at the Coalmont Hotel” Verdi said. Indeed, old timers here know about that phone. They may also know where to contact the proprietors to come and let them in when the saloon is not open. Visitors to the area, such as Trans Canada Trail users, would never find that phone, and these are the people most at risk.

With no cell service many feel that something needs to be done to provide emergency contact for those who don’t have a house with a traditional landline. On any given weekend, that could be half the population of the area because we have a very high level of tourism in these parts.

Some local protest is expected. Already our BC MLA Jackie Tegart, Member of Parliament Alex Atamanenko and the CRTC have been contacted. Bob Sterne says there will be something about this on the CBC Daybreak Show Thursday Morning.   §

Unusual Visitor to Coalmont

California Quail April 20, 2015

I thought you might be interested in this. On Monday, April 20, we spotted an unusual visitor to Coalmont. This lovely California Quail spent well over an hour perched on some brush in our little community.

It is extremely unusual to see them around here. It certainly is the first one we have seen here during our 6 years in Coalmont. Many long-timers we have talked to say they have never seen or heard of one in the Tulameen/Coalmont/Princeton area. We don’t know if he has decided to stay in the area, or if he has any other friends or family with him, but we would be thrilled if he decided to make Coalmont his home.

Hopefully others will get to see him, and find that he has set up housekeeping here. He would be a welcome neighbour, in our opinion.

~ Faye Davidson

Good Things In Coalmont

Opinion: Some recent events in Coalmont have ended up in court and elicited considerable interest further afield. The Similkameen Spotlight painted a colourful picture with the headline Coalmont ‘spiraling out of control’.

That quote is from a Provincial Judge, and to many here it comes across as a slur. It might be relevant had it been limited to this court case – a story about escalating ructions centering around a specific situation. True, a number of nearby residents have been unpleasantly effected, but this is far from being a community wide issue. That the court documents purportedly listed at least one person central to the case as being Coalmontian, when in fact they were visiting from the lower mainland, does not help to clarify the picture.

Coalmont is certainly not out of control. This is a diverse community, and there are indeed some real characters, but there is also a measure of empathy and social understanding. Yes, there are strong feelings and opinions, but people are really much more tolerant than they sometimes sound.

In fact the issues which lead to a Judge’s apparent generalization only serve to underline just how much outsiders don’t know us. Despite our differences, there is still concern and real help being offered to those who have gotten themselves into a difficult place. The reality is that our humanity will prevail.

Although I do appreciate the drama and intrigue, I’m not sure that many readers from out of town, specifically Princeton, have the perspective to understand that they are hearing an enhanced colouration of our famous local mythology. The view from here is really quite different. And that is a good thing.

~ Ole Juul

Man in phone booth hit by car

A car driven by Rolly Giroux has demolished the Coalmont phone booth, destroyed one household’s water well, and sent one person to hospital.

Around noon today Warren Spence had stopped to use the phone booth at the corner of Front and Parrish. Mr. Giroux, driving an uninsured vehicle, came by and drove directly toward the booth with Mr. Spence in it. According to Spence he saw Giroux coming straight toward him but was not able to move away fast enough and was still left bleeding. Reportedly the injuries are not life threatening but still fairly serious. Spence has long been a sworn enemy of Giroux who is well known for his threats. It is unclear whether this was an accident or not.

Giroux, who lives at the other end of the block, went home. Spence apparently had a companion in his truck who was able to drive to the hospital. The police then arrived at the scene, took some pictures, and then went to visit Giroux whom it is assumed was with them when they left there a short time later.

Regardless of intentions, the worldly consequences are not good. Mr Spence says he will be laid up for at least 6 weeks. Furthermore, the loss of Coalmont’s phone booth is no small matter. It was the only emergency phone serving this area and section of the Trans Canada Trail. There is no cell phone coverage. The well behind it is now partly caved in and is exposed to further contamination by surface water and rodent access. This was a source of drinking water for two properties. In addition, the goats and other animals which Giroux was caring for at his residence will need attention while their master is away. It is not known when, or if, he will return.

We Still Need Firewood

Nick Saban March 2015

After being down on the coast for the winter, Nick Saban came back late Monday evening. It was dark, and it’s still cold around here. Putting in a fire was on the top of his mind. There’s always dry firewood neatly piled in front of the cabins for when there are guests. To his surprise, and consternation, it was gone.

The pile by the main house was gone too. Someone had saved themselves some work and picked up almost two cords of wood where it was easy to get. How nice for them. We don’t see this kind of thing much locally and people tend to help one another, so one can imagine it was someone from further away. Nick has been here for over 40 years now, so he knows how to cope. Still, as he puts it himself: “I don’t have the stamina to load wood like I used to.” At 72 years old, that is no surprise. Although Nick is an unusually fit person, we all run out of steam eventually.

Life in Coalmont can indeed be a bit more work than city folk would be used to. Getting in fire wood is work enough, and so is splitting logs and feeding the stove – but in the winter there’s snow that needs shoveling if you want to get in, or out, of the door. In fact the snowplow will typically plug up people’s driveways to the point where older people will just have to stay home because it is hard or impossible to dig themselves out from that. Nick cites that as one of the reasons he has taken to going to the coast. However, with spring nearly upon us, he’s looking forward to riding his bike around and enjoying the outdoors life that this area has to offer. Before it starts to get cold again in the fall, he’ll also be bringing home some more firewood.   §

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.    §

Evacuation Concerns for Coalmont

The Tulameen River this morning looks like time has forwarded to Spring freshet. It is amazing the havoc weather can create and so suddenly. As I look out, the temperature has been plummeting and the downpour of rain all night abruptly turned to snow. At least it is a dry snow, not the heavy wet that contributed to the ice jam on the river. We will have to wait to see if we are out of the woods yet.

Come spring there should be less debris floating down the river to cause problems if what is going by our place is an indication.

The Tulameen Fire Department deserves commendation for their proactive action in going door to door alerting residents of the possible danger, and to be prepared in case an evacuation was needed.

I would like to be able to commend Argo Road Maintenance as well, but they have done nothing in our community to be commended for as we waited to see what might happen.

If you own a 4×4, or live along Coalmont Road, evacuation would not have been a problem, as it is well maintained.

For those of us who do not fall into that group, the condition of the side roads was and still is this morning deplorable. Unnecessary delays and serious problems may have occurred. Normally I would not consider this an issue as I realize we are low on the priority list for ploughing, and every one works around this.

When such a serious issue as this occurs, standard procedure would be to alert all civil authorities of the danger. If Argo was proactive, the very first thing on their priority list should have been to dispatch a plough truck to address the situation.

Thankfully we seem to have dodged a bullet this time and may we never need to be placed in this position again.

~ Ken Davidson

Flood Warning for Coalmont

There is a flood warning for Coalmont and anyone along the Tulameen river. People are asked to remain on standby and be ready to leave town on short notice. Apparently there is a significant ice jam about 7 km up the river and it was already looking dangerous before it got dark.

Fire Department volunteers have been walking about town and knocking on every door to make sure that people are aware of the situation. Residents are being told that if they hear a siren, to leave immediately and head toward Princeton. The siren will be from the fire truck.

The last time there was a flood in Coalmont was in 1995 about this same time of year. That one caused considerable damage and it reached from the river up as far as the Hotel. Hopefully the dyke which was built then, will be protection enough if the current ice jam breaches.

The Tulameen & District Volunteer FD Fire Chief is Jody Woodford, and the hall number is (250) 295-6688. Emergencies should be reported to 911.   §

Haloween Winner

Lonnie At Halloween

The night was completely dark and quiet except for the sounds of deer moving about in the shadows. Suddenly, there it was. Outside of the odd post-party morning, most of us here don’t usually see things like this. This was real. Other creatures walking about in the night knew it, and kept their distance. Scary! . . . Until a soft voice spoke out: “I’m wearing the blue lights so I don’t get run over”. Hello? I’m sure I saw several cars drive into the ditch. You’re not going to get run over! Who are you?

It was Lonnie Boyd on her way to a party. In the end she won the best costume award. The Coalmont will be providing her with a free one night staycation in the honeymoon suite. This prize includes a $50 gift certificate for use in the pub on Saturday evening and breakfast served ensuite on Sunday morning. Congratulations Lonnie!   §