Category Archives: News

Centennial Party July 9

Magic Tree with 100sAfter putting up the Coalmont Centennial pages there has been more interest in this historical event. It was hoped that the Centennial Guestbook would generate some talk about what we could do to celebrate. Indeed, someone came to the rescue – Coalmont Energy Corporation. They have offered to sponsor a party for us here. Thank you CEC!

Every year there is also a Blakeburn reunion dinner held for the last survivors of that era. Those events have been organized by Lillian Young who grew up right here and knows how it was in the heyday of the town. This year she will organize the reunion dinner in Coalmont and we will have that together with our Centennial Party.

There will be a tent set up for the event, and a BBQ with burgers starting at noon. The dinner will start at 4:30 pm. This is a late date to be planning this sort of thing, but hopefully we will find musicians who will want to come and jam. We welcome other ideas for entertainment as well. Watch the Party Page for updates. Questions and suggestions can be directed to party@coalmontcentennial.com See you there!

Centennial banner over Walt's sign

HAPPY BIRTHDAY COALMONT!

Centennial buttonIt was June the 6th 1911 when the Columbia Coal and Coke Company registered the town plan in Kelowna. After getting off to a rocky start because of the intervening First World War, Coalmont took off and, as advertised, became “the centre of the coal and mining belt and the hub of business enterprise in the Tulameen valley”. Our little town thrived until the mine (by then in Blakeburn) closed in 1940. We nearly became a ghost town, but we’re still here!

Visit WWW.COALMONTCENTENNIAL.COM which was set up to commemorate our centennial. There you will find a pictorial “then and now“, links to more detailed history, and a GUESTBOOK for anyone to sign. The Guestbook has already garnered a few interesting stories and hopefully before the year is out will become an interesting little narrative. If you live here, grew up here, have visited here, or are simply a Coalmont wannabe, please add your two cents worth.

As many know, there is no grant money or funding for anything in our little town, but it is still possible that we can have some kind of celebration if we put our minds (and hearts) to it. Our 100th year has just begun! §

We have confirmation that there will be a celebration on Saturday July 9. Everyone is invited. This party is made possible by the generous sponsorship of the Coalmont Energy Corporation. More details to follow.

Tulameen Volunteer Fire Department Here

Tulameen Volunteer Fire Department burning grassLast night we witnessed the Tulameen Volunteer Fire Department in action here. They were burning off the grass on the old school ground along the highway. This greatly reduces the chance of a fire starting there during the summer. We are lucky to have this service available.

This being the time of year for cleaning up ones yard, some will want to have a fire. In this area you may contact the fire department to get a Burning Permit Application Form and Open Air Burning Permit. Contact information – (250)295.6688 or email to tulfd@nethop.net. There is more information on the RDOS site. §

Princeton and District Museum

This is our museum too. In fact the new Operations Manger is Coalmont’s own Sharon Anderson.

The Princeton Museum was established in 1958. It was known as the Princeton Pioneer Museum before being renamed the Princeton and District Museum and Archives.

Archival holdings include records of individuals and local organizations, mining reports, maps and photographs relating to Princeton and area including Tulameen, Coalmont, Granite Creek and Manning Park. Holdings also include an extensive biography file and newspapers. Inclusive Dates: ca. 1900 to present. Museum collection includes an extensive collection of fossil wood and rocks.

The Princeton & District Museum and Archives is currently in the process of renovating the existing building to expand into a portion of the building formerly occupied by the Town of Princeton Library. The executive and membership are excited about the challenging months ahead and the prospect of serving the public even better. The renovations will offer additional display area and an overall facelift to the museum. A grand reopening is planned for this summer.

New members are always welcome. Membership is $10.00 per year. If you have any questions, would like to join, or wish to donate to the museum, contact Sharon Anderson at 250-295-7588 or by email at princetonmuseum@telus.net. You can visit their web site here. §

April Weather

April 18 2011 evening snowGlobal warming aside, it looks like our springs are getting worse every year. Although remaining winter snow is confined to icy piles, it is cold and we have had flurries on a regular basis. Today was no exception, but this evening’s finale is a number too much. Is this really the week before Easter?

Tom Stout – Memorial Tribute

Portrait of Tom Stout Tom Stout passed away on the last weekend of January and we send our condolences to family and friends.

He was a significant figure in this area and is an important part of Coalmont’s history. Tom is survived by several children. His wife Gloria passed away a few years ago. Tom was loved by all and had a close friendship with Walt Smart. Hopefully we can publish relevant genealogical details and some specific history in the future. §

Walt Smart Passed Away

Walt Smart, who was born in Coalmont in 1923, passed away in the Kelowna hospital late Friday night.

Walt’s history in this area goes back to the original Granite Creek gold rush. He has left a big mark on Coalmont and his passing touches all of us. Old timers have fond memories of Walt’s store and his other community interactions. Newcomers knew him as a gentle man who was full of information and always great company. Tourists will know him from his famous signs. In fact, Walt’s sense of humour is famous.

WaltSmartJuly21-2010

Walton William “Walt” Smart was born in Coalmont in 1923…. His father was James Smart (1895-1950) and his mother was Ethel Margaret Holmes (1895-1965)…. Her father was Walton Hugh Holmes (1852-1940) one of the original placer miners at Granite Creek…. Walt joined the RCAF in WW2 and served as a Flying Instructor…. He met Astrid “Terry” Lambert (1918-1998) during the war, and they were married at Copper Mountain in 1950…. They had five children, Jim, Bill, Eric, Bob, and Judy…. If our records are correct, he has 9 grandchildren and at least 1great-grandchild…. Walt ran the Coalmont General Store from 1950-1972 and the Emporium from 1972-1976…. He moved five kilometres upstream on the south side of the river at that time and has lived there ever since. §

Photo Bob Sterne

The Princeton Museum

The Princeton Museum BuildingIf you “dig history” it’s time to join the Princeton Museum Society. Our Museum has undergone many transformations over the decades – from its early years in a log cabin to the building it is in today on Vermilion Avenue. Until now, the Museum has shared its accommodation with the Library but all that is about to change. This year the Library moved to a new location and now the Museum is ready to undergo a major face-lift. What was the old Library, will become the Gloria Stout Wing named in honour of Mrs. Stout who left a generous bequest to the Museum she loved.

The Museum will be closed until renovations are completed in 2011, but there is much to do. Decisions must be made, display shelves and cases purchased, and a general reorganization and cataloguing of the entire collection must be tackled. When completed, the famous Joe Pollard Collection of fossils and fluorescent minerals will have an updated home complete with black lights. The bar and gaming machine from Granite Creek will be properly displayed for all to see, and the entrance to the Museum will be magnificent. After walking through the main front doors, guests will move to their left where they will enter an area resembling a mine tunnel. The new Museum will house a meeting room where researchers can access the extensive Archives available. Archival material will be organized in the basement of the new Museum and an elevator will bring material up to the meeting room. The entire building will be updated with modern climate controls that will help protect the fragile contents inside. There will even be a unique gift shop.

This past summer, Coalmont’s own Sharon Anderson was appointed Manager of the Princeton Museum (replacing Nick Mills). She brings with her an extensive background ranging from accounting to experience applying for government grants. Her new position will be a challenging one that will involve hiring and overseeing a staff of summer students and keeping her finger on the pulse of the new Museum, but we are confident with her abilities and excited to have her on board.

This is a fresh, new start for the Princeton Museum and we need volunteers to come and share their passion for the past. Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month (excluding July and August) at 2 pm in the basement of the Princeton Tourist Information Centre. Membership is $10 per year. If you would like to become a part of history, please join us at our next meeting. We would love to see you there. ~ Diane Sterne (Bob Sterne photo)

Important Update: At the 14/09 museum meeting, it was decided to change the meeting times. The next meeting will be Wednesday, October 20 at 7 p.m. It was agreed that we might get a better turnout if we move the meetings to the evening. The meetings will now be held on the 3rd Wednesday of every month (excluding July and August) at 7 pm in the basement of the Princeton Tourist Information Centre.

New Location:
The next meeting of the Princeton Museum Society is Wednesday, February 16 at 7 pm in the Meeting Room of the Princeton Library.
The AGM is Wednesday, March 23 at 7 pm in the Meeting Room of the Princeton Library.

The Three Bears

The three bears at GraniteWild animals are normally afraid of humans. This is a good thing for us and it is particularly good for them. However, sometimes animals get used to us and lose that fear. Then we are both in trouble.

The bears we have seen recently were here because they found food. What happens in such a case is that they become “food-conditioned”, keep coming around, and soon lose their fear of people. That’s when they become a threat. It is unfortunate that once a bear has become used to this situation there is no going back. Catching them and moving them somewhere else has been shown to not work. The only solution is to put them down. This is a very sad situation. What is particularly sad is that it could be avoided. Leaving food garbage outside where the scent can attract bears is the main cause.

The recent invasion of bears in Coalmont has made it clear that we have a problem here. A problem with people. The three bears in the picture above died as a result of people’s garbage.

To really make the situation clear, here is an e-mail which the New Coalmont Courier received on Monday. It is from a local resident who witnessed the removal of the female bear and her two cubs.

The 3 bears are dead:

You probably know by now, but in case you don’t, all three bears were shot this afternoon. The two bear cubs were caught in the trap set by conservation officers. The babies were bawling all night long and mama was sitting nearby and ripping apart Maurice’s plum tree while she waited and watched her babies in the cage. Bob (brave man that he is) went out early in the morning to confirm what was in the trap and once again phoned conservation (he had called them last night and even though they are a 24 hour service, they don’t send anyone out until the next day). We posted warning notes on the doors to the motel rooms as we had guests with pets and children and didn’t want anyone getting mama bear ticked off more than she was. Practically the entire town showed up over the morning to look at the cubs. They were so adorable and small and were crying their hearts out. It was really sad. Mama moved to the edge of town and watched from there. Conservation arrived and after no luck hunting down mama, took the cubs in the cage out to the edge of the bush where mama was. Mama came out of hiding. The conservation officer shot and killed mama and threw her in his truck to the cries of the babies who could smell her. Then he went out to check on another bear sighting at the other end of town (I don’t know what happened there). He was going to take the babies out to shoot them as well. We have another trap set up where the old one was in case any of the other three bears wander in. Ray said he was “held hostage every night from 7 pm to morning” because of the bears coming onto his porch. He said even banging pots and pans didn’t frighten them. The conservation officer said he’d dump the bears off the road somewhere. Seems kind of a waste. Since they were killed, it surprised me they didn’t use the meat or fur for something. I wonder if any locals followed him to pick up the dead bears after he left? Anyway, it was a sad day in Coalmont.

Diane

Photo of the three bears taken by Lonnie a few days earlier at Granite Creek.

Coalmine Update

It is time for an update on the coal mine. Last month, the pending deal with the Australian company, Jameson Resources, fell through. They no longer have any interest in the mine and will conduct no further exploration.

Friday, August 06, 2010 Jameson Resources updates Basin Coal Mine Project status. Here is what they say:

Jameson Resources (ASX: JAL) has received notification that formal documentation to amend and extend the Option to Purchase agreement relating to the Basin Coal Mine Project with Project vendors Compliance Energy Corporation (CVE: CEC), could not be concluded due to the failure of Compliance Energy to secure certain waivers from Pacific West Coal Ltd (PWC), the lease holder.

The significance of the involvement of the British company (PWC) is unknown at this time. From a Coalmont perspective, the owner of the mine is still Compliance Energy.

Mining is a complicated business and there are many factors which can influence the outcome of a project. In this case there appears to have been a communications failure. Whether that was planned or not is unknown. Jameson reports:

The draft interim report shows that the project economics were severely impacted by increased operating costs largely as a result of projected processing efficiency being considerably less than that reported from the previous operations conducted at the project.

For now, the mine remains on care and maintenance and no future plans have been published. §

New RV Park Here?

Development Permit 17343It looks like we are getting a new full hookup RV park just across the river. At this point it is hard to say what exactly is going on, but all the truckloads of fill which we have seen going by in recent days were apparently destined for 1500 Blakeburn Road.

Previously there was a development permit for over 60 parcels, but that has since been withdrawn and it would appear that plans have changed. According to the RDOS office, we can expect a guide camp lodge to go up but what else we will see is still a mystery.

As usual we have local rumours. One person said that they were putting in a 70 unit RV park, but no one seems to really have any facts. One thing is certain, it is no small development. There is a foundation poured for what could be a nicely sited little lodge. The eyebrow raiser is that there is more to it than that.

What might be a little worrisome is the rows of RV pads with water and sewer hookup. How many of those can we expect? One would also note that an RV park requires rezoning, and according to the RDOS office there has not been any application for that.

View of presumed RV camp siteRegardless of zoning or development permits, many locals probably think of an RV park as a dubious development for Coalmont. Even just a few dozen more weekenders pursuing off-road motor sports could be uncomfortable for us since the general feeling seems to be that we have already reached our limit.

However, at this point in time we still don’t know what is really coming on Blakeburn Road. It is entirely possible that it will have little impact, or even a very positive one. We’ll just have to wait and see. §

Fire On The Hill

Yesterday we saw smoke billowing up over the mountain from the Blakeburn direction. Since there is now a fire ban in place and we are at a very dry, and the most vulnerable part of the year, this caused quite a lot of concern here in Coalmont.

A call to the local volunteer fire chief, Jody Woodford, did not give us the answers we wanted to hear. Apparently Forestry is calling it a “controlled burn” by Compliance Energy Corporation at their mine site, and that they have a permit – despite the fire ban.

However, according to several eyewitness reports, there was no one on the site yesterday when they went to look, and it appeared to be a slash burn. The word from our Area-H representative, Brad Hope, is that the office is well aware of it and that it is an old fire which flares up during hot weather. Whether this is just what they think, or this is what Compliance told them is not known at this point.

Woodford is personally very concerned about the way the Forestry Service is viewing the situation. She is under the impression that they do not want to hear about the fire unless it is clearly out of control. Hopefully this is not how they normally view large unattended fires near population centres, but if it is then we could be in greater danger from fire here in Coalmont than was previously thought.

Another witness who visited the site this morning, said that it looked like a slash burn and that there were also some trees on fire. They did not see anyone there keeping an eye on it. With no apparent monitoring of the situation, what are we to do here? Certainly the seemingly conflicting information from eyewitnesses and different authorities does not bode well.

Something looks wrong with the way we are managing fires in this area and it needs to be looked into. We need to feel safe and know that there is a system in place to monitor and hopefully control large fires – not just let trees burn close to our town because it is only an “old” fire.

It is hard to tell what the truth really is, but this is a story which needs follow up. Who is responsible? Who is monitoring? Who cares? The first two questions have no answer yet, and the last one is obvious – we do. §

UPDATE

It’s been a while since we’ve had some stories here. Of course this is Coalmont . . . but still.

Dominion day, or Canada Day as they call it now, has come and gone. The magic tree looked good, as usual. It was all decked out with Maple Leaf Flags to commemorate the occasion. Our little park is actually looking pretty good and is a nice place for tourists to stop.

A small indie company was filming a movie at the English ranch last week. “A Land that Forgets” is a “simple love story of a boy and a canoe in a town that is fading away.” From their web site: “Glass Curtain Pictures is a grass roots independent production company from Vancouver, British Columbia. Striving to produce works that respect the intelligence of the audience and challenge ourselves as filmmakers, we work together to co-produce and self-finance our own works.” Check out their website.

The development of 64 cabins across the river at 1500 Blakeburn road, has come to a halt. I believer these were supposed to be 1 hectare lots with water provided. From what I hear they had difficulty finding potable water up there and needed to get it from down here. I wonder just how much water 64 units would suck up. Anyway, I guess it’s a moot point now because I see that the development permit has been withdrawn.

There were some other Coalmont real estate sightings this year. Nic’s Cabins were seen for sale on Craig’s List for a very large sum of money. There’s other real estate for sale around here for large sums of money. That may be why they are for sale. A Langley RE/MAX office by the name of Treeland Realty is listing the Hotel for $675,000. Since the company mysteriously keeps a very low profile on the net, I’ll give a link to Vanislebounty’s local food Blog which does a much better job and is where I found the information. With all the talk about real estate around here, it’s interesting to note that our population is almost exactly the same as it was in 1940 when the mine closed. Zero growth in 70 years. That’s pretty impressive, and to many people one of the best things about this place. §

Coalmont Road Closed

Red Bluffs Slide October 21 2009The Red Bluffs is probably the most exciting part of the Coalmont Road, and has given more than one tourist pause for concern. Coalmontians are used to dodging rocks, and know that one of these days the whole road will continue on down. Still, when direct access to Princeton gets cut off, everyone pays attention. Although bigger than usual, this slide on Wednesday October 21 was already cleared by 2:30 pm. Kudos to the road crew who manages to keep our road drivable all year round. (Bob Sterne photo)

Rose Cosman

In Loving Memory of Rosina Marie Cosman, who passed away September 5, 2009. She was born December 11, 1935.
Rose Cosman
Rosina passed away at the Princeton General Hospital at the age of 73. She will be lovingly remembered by her husband Ed Cosman, of Coalmont; children, Fred (Tina) of Princeton, Jackie of Vernon and Patty (Graham) of Comox Valley as well as by her grandchildren; Desiree, Shyanne, Kyle, Christina, Ashley and Tiffany. Lovingly remembering Rosina will also be her sister and brothers; Shirley (Johnny) Schnarr of Sask, Carl (Amy) Watson of Chase and Bob (Chris) Watson of Sunshine Coast. Continue reading Rose Cosman

Remembering Jim English

Jim English
James (Jim) Wesley English of Coalmont, BC died on the ninth of September 2009 at the Princeton General Hospital of natural causes. At the time of his passing he was surrounded by loved ones. Jim was born on September 22, 1924 in Fort Vermillion, AB to parents Alvin and Mary English. He was the 4th of 11 children. Jim led an extraordinary life, starting when he left home at around age 11. At age 15, at the start of the Second World War, he joined the Canadian Armed Forces (Regimental Number K85494). He later transferred to the Seaforth Highlanders Continue reading Remembering Jim English

COMMUNITY PLAN REVIEW

The Regional District is currently conducting a review of the Official Community Plan (OCP).

Christopher Garrish, the planner for RDOS, informs me that so far, Coalmont has the lowest return on the survey. In fact it is at a piddley 2.7%! We can do better.

Everyone should have gotten a copy of the survey in the mail. If you’re like me and don’t check your mail every week, then do it now. This is important to the future of our area and the control we have over it. Anyone who didn’t receive a copy can participate on-line, or call to get involved. Here is the press release which RDOS issued.
Continue reading COMMUNITY PLAN REVIEW