Plans in the works to get the Old Opera House up and running

Community news and events from around Ashcroft and area.

Andy’s In-land port makes sense

The Regional District is right behind our Mayor on this one. With the proposal in the Lower Mainland to turn 220 hectares of prime farmland into a port, Andy has pushed for the port here. This makes sense. And the loss of the rich farmland doesn’t.

The Regional District is contacting the Premier, the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Transport. But the railroads, both CN and CP, have been reluctant to respond to the plan for the Ashcroft port, despite the federal pledge of $5 million. It is an uphill battle.

In the end, it always seems that the money trail leads to those who will benefit most. In this case, the loss of yet more prime farmland doesn’t appear to be a concern. I’m reminded of Tobiano. They took that piece of prime farmland out of the agricultural land reserve, and the bottom dropped out, and the land lies in a kind of limbo, with a defunct golf course and marina in a kind of no-man’s land.

En Plein Air

Yes, it’s French, and it simply means painting out of doors, an activity that has been around for 140 or so years. It is a challenge to paint out doors.  Despite those wonderful paintings of wheat fields glimmering under a hot Arles sun by Vincent Van Gogh, and those happy sunlit afternoons in a garden by Claude Monet, that sun, that wind, even a bit of a breeze, can be formidable when you are painting en plein air.

Nevertheless, the result of painting in out of doors brings a wonderful freshness of color as the light plays over the land. And that is the kind of challenge that fine artist, Pauline Ogilvie envisioned when she planned the En Plein Air event in Ashcroft on May 22-23. Artists from this region and beyond will be in our hills and mesas that week. A show of “wet paintings” will be held on the 23rd in Heritage Park on Railway Avenue, along with music. A special event for all.

Ashcroft Opera House

A big event this past week was John Kidder’s presentation to Ashcroft Council.  John wants to bring the heritage building back into our lives. Live entertainment, including plays, various concerts, including classical, movies, plays and such are envisioned.

John is hopeful he can have the building opened this year. But there is much to be done, including raising the money for things like costly renovations.

It is hoped that a co-op can be formed, and that monies from provincial, federal agencies can put the plan into action. John’s late father, Kendall Kidder, was keen years ago, to restore the Chinese cemetery in Ashcroft. He was a good friend. I know Ken would have been absolutely delighted to see the cemetery restored as it has been by volunteers who worked like Trojans to give the burial ground the dignity that it deserved after so many years of neglect.


I had no idea that the little piece I did on bawdy houses of yesteryear would provoke the righteous response it did. Some readers stopped me on the street to say how much they enjoyed the article, and learned. Sensationalism was never intended. The object was to inform. But I’ve been accused of exploiting an industry that has been worldwide since the dawn of recorded history, and that goes back 4,000 years. Indeed, there are stories in the Bible that make my article pretty sedately academic. I am thinking about David, who had his general assassinated so that he could have the general’s wife. And that incredibly evil man named Lot. And I won’t go into detail about what he did!

Some of the material for my article came from Rosemary Neering’s carefully researched book, Wild West Women, a Whitecap publication. Ms. Neering devotes a good 12 pages to the subject of prostitution.

But the assertion that I should be writing articles that “deepen our love” and “enlighten our appreciation” of others is utterly bewildering. What have I been writing, then, these past 40 years, in my beloved Cariboo country? I write about people, any of whom have given their lives literally, to their respective communities. People who volunteer their services, year after year, without compensation of any kind. People who live out their quiet lives in quiet neighborhoods, doing for each other. Quite ordinary people. Yes, but, in their own way, to my mind, extraordinary in their ordinaryness. Self interest?  Not a smidge of it. The theme of most of my articles, in fact, is survival. How people survived and, in Gordon Matthews words, “Grew where they were planted”. And that includes prostitutes. They’re people. And the ones I wrote about lived at a time when there was no social safety net, none at all. And there wouldn’t be for another 75 years.

In summary, if there was no preachment of the evils, no moralizing of the pitiful state of people, I make no apologies for that. I assume that my readers are intelligent enough to read my articles in the context which I intended.

Automated Garbage Collection

The birds tell me that there is some opposition to this. There is always opposition to almost everything of course. But I will go online thinking Ashcroft has made the right decision on this one.

The complaint, one of them, is that they are ugly. Well. Ugly is on wheels. Is streamlined in appearance. And commodious enough to contain those black bags of garbage I see alongside cans and other receptacles which our Public Works crew has had to pick up and heave onto the pile in the old garbage truck. And then, to have to hang on to the back of the truck as it makes its uneven way along our thoroughfares. I’m surprised Work Safe hasn’t stepped into the picture on this one.

No, the new method of picking up garbage will save on labor, and increase the efficiency of garbage removal. It is a progressive step. But it is Change. And some people cannot deal with that in a thoughtful manner.


Good grief! Isn’t there a village by-law that regulates the height of fences? If there isn’t, there should be. There is an unsightly fence at the property behind the Ashcroft Library. And I have seen another fence or two along the lanes that have been erected. If the object is to hide the premises, the question is, why? I hope the erection of high fences (anything over five feet) doesn’t become a trend.

Spring Clean Up in Ashcroft

Ashcroft’s streets and avenues are scrupulously clean of gravel, winter detritis, and litter. It is a pleasure to drive along them. Our Heritage Park, recently thatched and weeded, with the tulips and other colorful bulb flowers coming up, is a joy to do my works in. Rev. Jim White told me recently that the park’s design was done by Mrs. Beck, an architect, and wife of former Cache Creek Pentecostal Church pastor, Jeff Beck. It is a charming walk through the replicas of the town’s history. The design is full of little surprises. I notice visitors in the park appreciate them too. I have only one suggestion. That a sign be placed on the water wheel, or near it, as I’ve seen visitors getting inside the walls, to take pictures, informing that it is out of bounds. Perhaps a length of rope around the area, will stop people from getting inside the waterwheel structure?

Closing the barn door

Stores and shops in Ashcroft have a questionnaire asking what people think of the Wellness brand. I’ve written about this in letters to the editor, but I must add another note to the controversy. I was informed that very few persons objected to the brand at the time that it was being discussed. And that criticism and questions made to the branding question were not particularly welcomed at the time. I wasn’t here and didn’t attend those meetings, so I am not in a position to comment on that complaint. I am just wondering why the delay in objecting to a brand of Wellness, a year after the event? What does this accomplish? God knows, I’m all for expressing an opinion on any thing that costs money, like the brand did. But there is and was a time and and place for complaint. But now? I don’t think so.

Esther Darlington MacDonald