Life in the not so distant past

Dear editor

In and around Ashcroft and Cache Creek 56 years ago. There was very

little in both towns in those days.

Ashcroft was the place for the locals to shop for grocery and every

day needs (mostly at the Chinese store, Wing Chong Tai). They sold a

lot of food there. Jack Kirkpatrick owned the hardware store next

door; Murray Kane the plumbing store; the little hospital was at the

far end of the main street – the new hospital had not been built at

that time; the old tomato cannery (Aylmer) was still on the main

street. Shoi Saito and Betty, Chris and Bonny had the Shell station at

the corner; Jack Glover had the B.A. oil franchise; the big beer pub

and hotel at the far end of the street was owned by Jack Chatvaire, an

ex-policeman from Victoria.

There was only one policeman in Ashcroft to look after the region. His

name was Corporal Tooley. He was six feet, seven inches in height.

Big John Bundus owned the welding shop. His mom was getting on in

years and had a very nice little Austin car for sale. I bought it for

$150. It was just like new an I had it for a few years.

The Oasis Hotel in Cache Creek still had work being done to it. There

were two separate beer rooms – one for the men, the other for the

ladies and their husbands. (Beer was 10 cents a glass.)

I was the manager of the B.A. gas station (gas was 45 cents per gallon

– 10 gallons and you got change back from a $5 bill). Cigarettes were

45 cents plus two cents tax. Tires, second grade, were $16. First

grade tires were $24. Wages were from $2-$4 an hour, and I worked 10

hours a day, six days a week.

Bethlehem Copper shares were going at 17 cents a share. A bus driver

who lived in Cache Creek sold his house and his car and bought shares.

When he sold them, he made a million dollars.

The Fraser Canyon was not finished. They were still blasting and the

road was very narrow in places. A young bus driver who had only been

working for a short time, took a load of people to Vancouver. He got

half way down the Canyon and refused to go any further. They had to

send an old timer driver down to take over the bus.

Winters used to get very cold – -40-50 with the wind blowing.

Most of the ground in Cache Creek was sold for very little money in

those days. Five hundred dollars would get you a big lot.

There was very little in regards to buildings in both towns. There was

only one motel and it was owned by Bert Collins. There were only four

gas stations (B.A., Home Oil, Esso and Shell). Everyone knew

everyone.

The rodeo in Ashcroft was the big event of the year, and a great time

was had by all.

Most decisions about what went on in Cache Creek in those days were

made by Alan Parke, who then owned the Bonaparte Ranch, and Bert

Collins. They had the most property there. Both were very good men.

Basil Jackson owned the Hat Creek Ranch. Mr. Parke’s sister was

married to Mr. Jackson.

The First Nations’ Chief of the Bonaparte Indian Band was a very nice

man, Johnny Pierro. He was like a grand dad to all the little kids. He

could not read or write an was in his 60s way back then. He had an old

Ford car and could drive, and would take all the little kids to

Ashcroft on a Saturday for a treat. Cpl. Tooley, the policeman, knew

he had no drivers license and could not read or write, but turned away

and never bothered old Johnny.

When Bethlehem Copper started up, this was a very good thing for it

made work for the young men from the Reserve.

Perhaps there are a few of the old timers left like me, in and around

the area. I am 81 years old, and perhaps other old timers can add to

all this.

B. Booth

Kamloops