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In 1973, two house fires in Walhachin leave 10 people homeless

Residents and neighbouring fire departments prevented the fire from spreading to other homes
‘45 Pounds Of Pumpkin Pie’ (Oct. 25, 1973): ‘A real man-sized Jack-o-lantern for Corry Markin, weight 45 lbs. The pumpkin was grown in her parents’ garden in North Ashcroft.’ (Photo credit: Journal archives)

125 YEARS AGO: OCT. 29, 1898

Ashcroft Water: The water system in Ashcroft, while still somewhat interrupted by reason of the many connections being made with the mains, necessitating the turning off of the water each day, is a very satisfactory one. The force, with the 170 feet head, will give a powerful pressure at the hydrants, and streams will be thrown higher than a six storey building with great force. As our buildings have as yet only reached the moderate dignity of two storeys, the protection from fire will be very complete.

Ashcroft News: A little daughter came to the home of Mr. and Mrs. H.P. Lewis last Monday. Like all new babies, and especially the first one, it is the prettiest one in town.

Kamloops: Kamloops is a fortunate town in possessing the gold and copper mines that appear now to be of great value and of wide extent in the immediate locality. The town is beautifully situated in a healthy, genial clime and is now a busy little city of 1,500 people, has live energetic merchants and business men in general, and is surrounded by a great stock and agricultural country.

No Bones: The Standard says a human “scull” was picked up in Kamloops last week and no owner found. It must have belonged to some prehistoric boatman.

Halloween: Monday evening being Hallowe’en, there will probably be the usual loss of gates, etc. noticed on Tuesday morning.

100 YEARS AGO: OCT. 27, 1923

Gasoline Tax: A tax of three cents per gallon on gasoline will be considered at the coming session of the Legislature by the government, as a means of producing sufficient revenue to care for the increasing costs of highways and at the same time a way to decrease motor licences. The agricultural industry will be exempt so far as gasoline tractors and similar machinery is concerned.

Coquahalla [sic] Highway: James H. Kennedy, for many years chief engineer of the Canadian Northern Railway, has found still another pass from the coast to the interior. This is “via the Coquahalla” [sic] from Hope to a connection at the Canyon House or Thalia, as it is now called. [Thalia is on what is now called Coalmont Road between Highways 5 and 5A, about 40 kilometres south of Merritt as the crow flies.] The distance is about 60 miles of new road. Mr. Kennedy appears to assume that the objective of the tourist is Kamloops and Princeton when, in reality, the objective is more than any other the historic and far-famed Cariboo, and incidentally the balance of the province that can be reached from Spences Bridge. Just where Mr. Kennedy’s road is, no one knows. It begins at Hope and ends in a sort of dream.

Halloween Warning: The Ashcroft School Board warns all boys or others against molesting the school building either outside or in during the coming Hallowe’en night. This applies to all school property, and anyone found on the premises playing destructive pranks will be prosecuted.

75 YEARS AGO: OCT. 28, 1948

Bridge River Power: Ashcroft last Saturday morning was the meeting place for many prominent guests, officials, and newspaper representatives for the “take-off” for Bridge River, for the opening of the B.C. Electric Company’s, western Canada, largest hydro-electric project, which went into operation the same day, nine months ahead of schedule. [It is] the first 62,000 horsepower unit in a project that will eventually produce 620,000 horsepower. The development, which will be followed by a second 62,000 horsepower generating unit in February 1949, and a third equal capacity in October 1949, assures the industrial and domestic power future of the Lower Mainland and perhaps the drybelt Interior of British Columbia. Giant-sized construction to the present stage took two years. The Bridge River project is unique on the continent for its method of power production. Through engineering skill, a 1,200-foot natural difference in level of Bridge River and Seton Lake, which are separated by a mountain, has been utilized to provide a 1,200-foot head of water to drive vertical impulse generators.The massive project involved building a diversion dam and storage dams on Bridge River to force water into a 2.5 mile tunnel cut through the dividing mountain. A 130-mile transmission line built through some of the most mountainous sections of British Columbia carries the new electrical power to Vancouver and Lower Mainland areas.

Hat Creek Coal: Away back in the early nineties [1890s], George Finney discovered Hat Creek coal near the mouth of Marble Canyon on the Ashcroft-Lillooet wagon road. It proved to be a huge body and not a vein, as is usual with coal. In those pioneering days Hat Creek, at the mouth of the canyon, was a long way from a potential market in Ashcroft and it was impossible in horse and buggy time to deliver coal at such a distance at a price the consumer cared to pay. Coming by two-horse team and wagon required at least three days for the return trip. Same years later, Hat Creek coal found a market by motor truck, one day for the round trip. This was a successful new beginning. Hat Creek coal secured markets further afield at Lillooet, Clinton, and even Kamloops, as the coal had gained a good reputation. But the end came again when the owner at that time sold out a few years ago and the mine was closed down, while residents of Ashcroft are burning coal imported from Alberta. Now there is an agitation to extend the P.G.E. into the Peace river country to tap potential coal mines in that northern interior, while Hat Creek, with its inexhaustible supply, lies idle. How come?

Halloween Party For Children: Plans for the Children’s Halloween and Masquerade Party are complete for this Saturday night. The party this year is being conducted by the Canadian Legion W.A. and will be carried out as in previous years with a programme for games and dancing. Prizes will be given for the best costumes, and lunch will be served at the close of the affair. A charge of 25 cents is being made for adults to defray the cost of the prizes. All school children admitted free.

50 YEARS AGO: OCT. 25, 1973

Ten Left Homeless In Walhachin Fire: Ten of Walhachin’s residents were left homeless in a fire which destroyed the home of the Frank Goring family and the Warren Zant family, Wednesday evening, Oct. 17. Only because of the early hour of the fire was there no loss of life. The Zants and Gorings were attending the second meeting of the newly-formed Walhachin Cub Pack, in the town hall, when Leonard Vaughan burst in yelling “Frank, your house is on fire!” Nearly everyone in town rushed to the scene and assisted the families in saving some of their belongings, but a shift of wind sent sparks into articles piled across the road, and those too were lost. Only the Zant children’s guinea pig was rescued. The fire, of unknown origin, raged uncontrolled over an hour, but teamwork on the part of the residents, and a shift of the strong winds, saved the home of Ed and Marg Vaughan, and thereby prevented the fire from spreading to another five dwellings. Our neighbouring communities, notified by near-frantic phone calls, “cared enough to send the very best,” and to them we offer our sincere thanks: to the Savona Fire Department, which sent a 1,000-gallon water truck; to Cache Creek Volunteer Fire Department, which sent men who knew what they were doing in “disarming” the flaming hydro pole; to Ashcroft Volunteer Fire Department, which sent an ambulance-load of men and hose; to both Kamloops and Ashcroft detachments of the RCMP; to the BC Hydro crew which stayed on duty until power was restored to all residences; and to the anonymous BC Tel operator who put through the emergency long distance calls without even asking for a number. Thought for today: Have you paid your fire insurance?

New Industry On Pavilion Lands: The Pavilion Indian Band has concluded an agreement with Steel Brothers Canada Ltd. for development of a portion of the limestone deposits located on Pavilion Indian lands approximately 30 miles north of Lillooet. The agreement calls for construction of a 200 tons per day rotary kiln lime plant to be in operation by the middle of August, 1974, with construction expected to start this month. This is a major development for the Pavilion Indian Band from which the band will derive great benefit in terms of revenue and employment for band members. When in production, the plant will directly employ 15 to 17 persons from the surrounding areas. This major limestone operation will service central and northern British Columbia industries presently being supplied by outside sources.

Highland Valley: Just a note to the many hunters and sportsmen coming into the area. It’s a very good idea to carry a compass when tramping through the woods. Some places are quite dense and it’s easy to get turned around. A compass could save one a long walk to say the least.

Halfway: Halfway residents with school age children are hoping that now the road work in that vicinity is pretty well completed, maybe somebody will put up some signs warning motorists on Highland Valley Road that the school bus stops there to pick up and discharge children. Some parents are quite concerned that cars and trucks come around the corner too fast to stop, especially when the road is icy.