From the July 16, 2012 issue of the Times: Jana Sasaki wields a roller as she makes a print from an etching. The Clearwater artist was about to hold an exhibition in Kamloops. Times file photo

Back in Time

50 YEARS AGO: A spectacular lightning storm started 18 fires in the Raft River Valley


A spectacular lightning storm moved through the North Thompson area, starting 18 fires in the Raft River Valley. The downpour helped quell a forest fire that had been burning near Messiter Lake. There had been approximately 100 men, three cats and water bombers in the battling to control it.

Blue River Television Committee was again urging Blue River television owners to pay their dues of $2 per month, which had fallen behind badly. Avola residents were holding up their end of the agreement.


Both Clearwater Timber Products and the Weyerhaeuser mill in Vavenby were closed to back up wage demands by workers. An IWA spokesman said there was no economic reason why the southern Interior forest companies could not meet the union’s demands.

Little Fort residents Mr. And Mrs. Matt Savoie had an exciting experience when a cougar came to their back step to attack their dog. Matt Savoie treed the beast and bagged it with one shot.

About 500 visitors and residents of Upper Clearwater signed a petition calling for improvements to the road to Wells Gray Park. The road should be well graded and gravelled to the park, they felt.


Clearwater Elks took part in a ceremony to burn the mortgage to their community hall. Honoured Royal Lady of the OORP Rene McMaster was given an engraved silver tray for her role in organizing a 1969 walkathon that started the hall.


Raft River Riders chose Michelle Turcotte as their queen and Debbie Davis as princess.

Four members of Clearwater’s Shadowfax Track and Field Club were to compete at the B.C. Summer Games. Tom Chudley was to compete in discus, Jamie Sallenbach in javelin and discus, Darren Sallenbach in 1500 and 3000 meter races, and Ron Floen in triple jump and high jump.


Doctor Helmcken Memorial Hospital should have 12 to 14 acute care beds, not the existing 10, said regional district rep. Paul Caissie. Occupancy rate was more than 90 per cent, he said, and sometimes reached 120-130 per cent, with patients using stretchers.


Michelle Hole, 15, came back with a gold medal in barrel racing and a bronze in flag racing from the BC Summer Games in Port Alberni. Tara MacMahon, age 16, won a bronze in key hole racing.

Fire destroyed a small strip mill belonging to Mike and Karen Aiechele near Miller subdivision. Aiechele, who supplied strips for Slocan, expected to be back in business in a few days.


A total of 61 vehicles were lined up and ready to go when a bailey bridge opened across a washout at First Canyon. The road to Wells Gray Park had been cut for almost exactly six days.


Several hundred people turned out to take part in the first ever Clearwater Revival Logging Sports event. Host Dennis Greffard said he hoped to hold a similar event the next year.

Matt Nicol of Blue River Wilderness Outfitting complained that the road to Murtle Lake was still closed. “Basically, my business is nil,” he said. Heavy rains in May had washed out the road in several places. Highways staff had estimated the cost of repairs at between $300,000 and $500,000. MLA Kevin Krueger held little hope of opening the road by fall.

Gilbert Smith Forest Products of Barriere celebrated the planting of its five-millionth tree with a ceremony near Thunder River north of Blue River.

Clearwater athlete Chris Meehan received the Premier’s Sport Award for male achievement in amateur volleyball. Meehan was captain of the Junior National Volleyball Team.


A forest fire burning 35 km northwest of Clearwater on the south side of Mahood Lake was100 per cent contained by the B.C. Forest Service. At its peak, the forest fire was more than 70 hectares in size and was less than a kilometre away from a number of summer cabins on the lake.

Clearwater Trout Hatchery celebrated delivery of more than a million baby rainbow trout that hatched from their eggs. The newborns were to be reared at the hatchery until released as fry into local lakes in the fall.

Fire danger conditions remain at the extreme level throughout the North Thompson Valley, and campfire bans would be put into effect if conditions didn’t improve, said Clearwater Fire Zone Fire protection officer Jim Jones. So far that summer, the Clearwater Fire Zone had responded to 11 forest fires and 14 nuisance fires, including a 70 ha blaze near Mahood Lake.

Thompson Nicola Regional District retained Davies Wildfire Management from Squamish, B.C. to begin preparation of a Community Wildfire Protection Plan for the entire TNRD.

Customers of Clearwater Cable were left without email access as the North Thompson Valley suffered a near total internet outage for 17 hours.


Clearwater council voted to award a $475,000 contract to a Quesnel company to complete the installation of an ultraviolet disinfection system in the Russell Creek water system. A Towns for Tomorrow grant of $400,000 would help pay for the project.

Clearwater’s new public works superintendent, Jared Brounstein, started work. Previously with the City of Chilliwack, he had diplomas in public sector management and civil engineering.

Logs should be processed in the same administrative jurisdiction they are harvested in, Mayor John Harwood told the provincial legislature’s special committee on timber supply in Kamloops. “I’m concerned that this area will be used to fill for those areas where the forest industry is not survivable,” he said.

After Hours Theatre presented It’s All An Act, three short one-act plays at Serenity Center for the Performing Arts near Vavenby.

Clearwater kick-boxer Damon Chase won two silver medals at the West Coast Can-Am Championships in Vancouver.


Canfor held an open house to explain its logging plans for Upper Clearwater. Blocks on the shoulder of Trophy Mountain and on the west side of the Clearwater River would yield about 200,000 cubic metres of wood, equivalent to between 20 and 25 per cent of Canfor-Vavenby’s annual allowable cut, said Peter Baird, general manager for forest planning.

The TNRD board approved spending up to $24,000 to upgrade Blue River Fire Hall. The hall was owned by Blue River Improvement District.

Clearwater Trout Hatchery was undergoing a $900,000 renovation. “Basically, what we’re doing is replacing the old concrete raceways with circular fibreglass tanks,” said hatchery manager Mark Green.

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