Skip to content

What’s a ‘Conundrum Tea’? A trip back to 1898 provides the answer

A few attendees at the tea were surprised by what they ended up ordering to eat
An undated photograph of the Ashcroft courthouse at its second location, near the corner of Sixth and Brink Streets, where it was moved in 1900 and where the front tower was added. In 1898, while at its first location — on the 400-block of Brink Street beside the Opera House — the building was one of the first to be connected to the town’s new electrical system. (Photo credit: Ashcroft Museum and Archives)

125 YEARS AGO: NOV. 5, 1898

Work On The Streets: An appropriation for doing some much needed street work in Ashcroft has been secured and work has begun of filling up the unsightly holes and removing the stones from some of the back streets. The work should have been done years ago, and this is the first money that has ever been appropriated for work in this village since the town was laid out many years ago. The appropriation [of $300], while small, will do much that must be done.

Electric Light: The court house now has electric light. This is as it should be. There are so far over 40 houses connected with the water system and about the same number taking lights. There are quite a large number yet to be supplied.

Ashcroft Encomium: W.H. Dorman, Post Office Inspector, who has been visiting the Cariboo country, and who has also been through the rest of the province recently, states most emphatically that Ashcroft is the most progressive and prosperous town which he has yet visited. Next spring the setting out of shade trees and making of lawns will speedily make this one of the most attractive little cities on the line of the C.P.R. Healthy, mild climate, splendid fishing and hunting, and in one of the most fertile districts in the world, not only in mining but also in farming and stock raising, Ashcroft will, within a few years, be one of the leading cities of the interior of British Columbia.

Hallowe’en Entertainment: The entertainment and “Conundrum Tea”, given by the ladies of the Methodist church on Hallowe’en, proved a success, not only financially but also in point of attendance. The best item on the programme, especially to bachelors, was the “Conundrum Tea”. This afforded much amusement, and many were the mistakes made in ordering from the well gotten up menu. One well known young gentleman, who probably had fasted for a week in anticipation of a “square”, ordered “‘Bachelor’s Friend’ and a little of ‘Boston’s Overthrow’ on the side, please.” But, mark his surprise, when a cup of coffee and a cup of tea was brought him. The following was the menu, the explanation being in parenthesis: Greased Staff (Bread); Slice of Noah’s Kid (Ham); Fruit of the Vine (Pickles); Labourer’s Strength (Roast Beef); Boston’s Overthrow (Tea); Bachelor’s Friend (Coffee); Spring’s Offering (Water); Skipper’s Home (Cheese); Everybody’s Friend (Ladies’ Fingers); Elevated Feline (Catsup); Joy of Darwin’s Ancestors (Cocoanut); Marble Slab (Marble Cake); Ivory Manipulators (Toothpicks).

Hallowe’en: Nothing shields a person from the depredations of practical jokers at Hallowe’en. Even government officials are pestered. The post office was decorated with a Chinese sign and the custom house flagpole supported a wheelbarrow Tuesday morning.

100 YEARS AGO: NOV. 3, 1923

Parent-Teacher Debate: There was a record attendance at the Parent-Teacher monthly meeting on Thursday. The centre of interests was the question: Which is the best vocation for a woman, teaching, nursing, or music? In the material gathered, the arguments presented, and the style of delivery, it is safe to say the standard reached far surpassed anything of a like character ever attempted locally. In the voting which followed, the counts were Teaching (11), Nursing (10), and Music (18).

Potatoes: Quite a number of potatoes have been frozen during frost in the early part of the week. This took place in the event of those which had been plowed up and left in the field. Shipping has been renewed since the weather has become more favourable.

75 YEARS AGO: NOV. 44, 1948

One Dies In Train Mishap: The body of J. (Jack) Storoschuk, 28, who died in Lady Minto Hospital, Ashcroft on Sunday last as a result of injuries received on a C.P.R. eastbound freight mishap, was shipped to his home in Abbotsford. With three others, the unfortunate man was riding an eastbound flat car loaded with timbers. Making a bend about a mile west of Ashcroft, the side stakes on the car broke and the timbers shifted, some going to the track and taking the men with them. Doctors Mills and Green of Ashcroft attended the men, giving first aid and treatment in the hospital. Local police immediately went to the scene of the accident and conveyed the men to hospital.

Spences Bridge: The coyotes have been a headache to the farmers in town and surrounding districts, as the loss in chickens and turkeys has been heavy.

Hallowe’en Huge Success: Hallowe’en was a comparatively quiet affair in Ashcroft this year. The evening falling on a Sunday was probably responsible for the dual celebration on Saturday and Sunday both, but no damage was done. A successful Hallowe’en school party was held in the [Ashcroft] community hall, about fifty students from the higher grades attending. There was dancing and games and some wind witchcraft. The evening was rounded out by a buffet supper of cakes, sandwiches, cookies, and cokes. Everyone went home quite happy at 10 p.m… . The Hallowe’en Masquerade party in the [Spences Bridge] community hall was enjoyed by young and old. The evening was spent in games, contests, and sing-songs. Refreshments were served at 9:30 p.m. and dancing commenced for the parents… A very enjoyable Hallowe’en party was held in the [Walhachin] Memorial Hall for the children on Saturday evening. Ducking for apples and games of all sorts were engaged in until supper was served to about 30 children who did full justice to all that was placed before them. Candy bags were handed out to each child later on.

50 YEARS AGO: NOV. 1, 1973

Emergency Training Offered To Residents Of Cache Creek: If a disaster hits Cache Creek, who provides volunteers to arrange for food, lodging, and clothing for its victims? Where do the victims go for help? How do they locate relatives who have become separated from them during the disaster? Under a new agreement, signed earlier this year by the Provincial Civil Defence and the B.C. Division of the Canadian Red Cross Society, the solution to these problems lies with the Red Cross, which has undertaken the task of providing trained volunteers to set up and manage emergency welfare centres which will provide food, lodging, clothing, and a registration and inquiry service for victims. The Red Cross, in an effort to ensure that its volunteers are trained and ready to provide these services, is offering a new one-night course on emergency welfare services, to be held at the Cache Creek Community Hall on Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. Purpose of the course will be to teach volunteers how they can develop a disaster plan which could be put into immediate action in major disasters in their area.

Walhachin Fire: Both the Warren Zant and Frank Goring families wish to express their gratitude and appreciation to all those who donated so generously to help them re-establish themselves and their homes following the fire which destroyed both family dwellings two weeks ago. The kindness that has been shown both families is enough to restore one’s faith in humanity.

Lytton Court House: This drab, matchbox-looking building situated on the corner of Alonzo Way and 6th Avenue, is Lytton’s new court house. One wonders, on viewing, just how people’s minds function, when they are designing such a monstrosity, and why cheerful and attractive colours couldn’t be used, or why it couldn’t have been set back on the lot with a bit of attractive landscaping to enhance its appearance. To all citizens that have contacted us, it is just Blah! and everyone is very, very disappointed. Now, on looking over a picture of the new proposed Federal Building for Lytton, we find it has Class spelt with a Capital C. It will be a building that all citizens can be proud of.

Ambulance Service: Some time ago it was noted that the Government intends to implement province-wide Ambulance Service. The Villages of Ashcroft and Cache Creek would benefit well from this service. A report from the Ambulance Service at Ashcroft indicated that in 1972, 54 of the calls were for non-resident, four calls were for Ashcroft residents, and three calls were for Cache Creek residents. Since Ashcroft and Cache Creek have to contribute on the basis of $1 per capita, it is very clear that both Villages are paying for ambulance calls for people who do not live here and are in effect contributing to the costs far out of proportion to Village use. We are paying for something the Provincial Government should be attending to.

Mesa Speed Limit: A letter from the Highland Valley Company requested playground signs and 20 M.P.H. tabs to be installed at the approaches to Mesa Vista Drive. The Police Dept. are requested for stricter enforcement, thereby protecting children entering the park.

Winter On Its Way: We have snow on the surrounding hills this morning to the 500 foot level, and while snowflakes fell in some areas, it was too mild (at least above 32 F.) to stick, but it’s the usual warning. Time to hunt up your longjohns!