In memory of Jack Kirkpatrick

A reader writes with memories of the late Jack Kirkpatrick, a man of many stories.

Dear Editor,

When a long-time resident like Jack Kirkpatrick passes on, a heck of a lot of Ashcroft history has passed on into The Great Immensity with him. Still, there is some satisfaction in knowing that some of that history is in the archives: here in the museum in Ashcroft, and also in the archives in Victoria. In numerous interviews, or just in casual conversation, Jack painted a picture of an era covering the 1920s and 1930s I found fascinating.

Jack’s stories about his time as a boy in Venables Valley in the 1920s with his mother, Rita Fooks (née Evans); his days on the ranch at the slough, two kilometres out of Ashcroft, where he lived in a house I wrote about that was destroyed by an arsonist; his time as a clerk in the general store in Spences Bridge; and so much more, as we sat in Jack’s Tingley Street home, he and the late Bill Munroe and I, having drinks at happy hour. All have been recorded one way or the other., thank God. It was all too priceless to be forgotten in the ether of time.

Jack was a gold mine. He spoke about his life as a boy, his mother gone away to work as a camp cook. She had to go, to provide for him and herself. Jack spoke of his loneliness for her, there on the ranch, even though his caregivers were good and he was going to school in the old Lady Byng school at the end of Brink Street.

He talked about his time in Venables Valley with his mother, about the way she cut down trees to provide heat. The way she fashioned a life for them in that isolated valley, tucked away in the limestone cliffs; a valley that feels every kind of weather there is in this river canyon.

He talked about the native Indians living above the Thompson south of Spences Bridge; how they rolled into the village in their horses and wagons over the Toketic road, bought what they needed in the general store, and noted they always paid for what they needed.

There was the poignant picture of Mary Anderson, still young and beautiful, reaching into her dress to pull the bills out, Jack’s boy heart melting a little. He told me of his father, Tom Kirkpatrick, who—like so many thousands of men—left the area to look for work “up north”, and never came back.

These stories came out of Jack bit by bit. He wasn’t really a storyteller. Nevertheless, Jack left a picture: many pictures, many images of that time and this area. When he returned from the Second World War, he and his mother helped found the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #113 in Ashcroft.

Jack sold cars from the building on 3rd Avenue across from the liquor store. He went broke, he said, because they sold too many cars, and had too many used ones they’d taken as down-payments. He and his wife Reta started McLeod’s store on Railway Avenue, and their business thrived. Jack had bought some land up at Pimainus Lakes, east of Spences Bridge. They built a thriving fishing camp, adding cabins and amenities. They spent summers up there in their fine lodge in the Jack pine facing one of the lakes.

Ross Darlington and I spent many happy hours fishing while camped out there, where the wind blows and the clouds hover unpredictably. Many an evening was enjoyed in the lodge with Jack and Reta.

This letter in no way describes the man, who curled and danced and drank life to the lees. Still, I had to write something about the man I knew.

Esther Darlington

Ashcroft

 

 

Just Posted

Prescribed burns to take place around Lytton, Spences Bridge

BC Wildfire Service will only conduct burns if conditions permit

Flooding hits Highway 97 north of Cache Creek

Recent warm temperatures are causing an increase in flooding on area roads

Golden Country: Fact or legend?

Sasquatch have long been reported in our region, but do the creatures really exist?

B.C. minister says rural internet is ‘railroad of the 21st century’

Jinny Sims talks details about the $50-million provincial and possible $750-million federal funds

Suspected car thieves captured walking down B.C. highway

Three individuals from Williams Lake in custody after Gustafson’s Kia break in and theft

Five highlights in the 2019 federal budget

Latest budget includes a sprinkling of money for voters across a wide spectrum

Facebook to overhaul ad targeting to prevent discrimination

The company is also paying about $5 million to cover plaintiffs’ legal fees and other costs

B.C. mosque part of open-house effort launched in wake of New Zealand shootings

The ‘Visit a Mosque’ campaign aims to combat Islamophobia

‘That’s a load of crap’: Dog poop conspiracy spreads in White Rock

Allegation picked up steam through a Facebook page run by a city councillor

Explosives unit brought in after suspicious boxes left at B.C. RCMP detachment

Nanaimo RCMP issues all clear after packages were found on lawn earlier in the day

Newfoundland man caught after posting photo of himself drinking and driving

The 19-year-old took a photo of himself holding a beer bottle and cigarette while at the wheel

2019 BUDGET: As deficit grows, feds spend on job retraining, home incentives

Stronger economy last year delivered unexpected revenue bump of an extra $27.8 billion over six years

Carfentanil found in 15% of overdose deaths in January: B.C. coroner

Carfentanil is 100 times more powerful than illicit fentanyl and used to tranquilize elephants

Kids found playing darts with syringes in Vancouver Island park

Saanich police is urging people to throw out their syringes properly and safely

Most Read