This trappers cabin was part of the camp. (Timber Country)

Logging at Bear Creek correctional facility

Timber Country is written by local author Glen Small and provides a historical telling of the logging camps in the North Thompson Valley. His father, Reg Small, came to Clearwater in 1932 and was instrumental in encouraging investment in the area. The following is an excerpt about the Bear Creek Corrections Camp.

The Bear Creek

Corrections Camp

In 1957 the Provincial Government and the Department of Corrections decided to build a minimum-security prison in the upper Clearwater area.

The buildings to be used were prefabricated in Kamloops and then hauled to Clearwater, 14 miles up the Park Road, to the jail site next to Fage Creek. The inmates were housed in tents while the buildings were assembled; initially five bunkhouses were erected to house twelve men each.

Added to that was a large cook house, wash and shower house, shop, office and administration buildings. All these were filled with about 60 inmates, instructed by a 14-guard staff. This was known as Bear Creek Corrections Camp.

By 1960, the camp began its forestry side: they built a little sawmill. The whole idea was to have an intersting facility to train inmates to work and to gain practical experience to better ready them to find employment after their release.

The sawmill made fence posts, timbers and planks for bridges and rough lumber to be used by forestry and government projects. No projects were to be sold to the general public. The jail had their timber supply right beside them; they also had their own cat and skidder, so they did all of their own logging and sawing.

They never tried for much production. The whole idea was to teach a safe and proper way to do basic logging and to show those interested how to perform jobs within the mill. They taught the trades of welder, saw filer, mechanic and millwright. All these trades would improve a man’s experience to attain employment on the outside.

The Bear Creek Corrections Camp supplied at a cost to the Clearwater Sno-Drifters Snowmobile Club the pre-cut buildings for snowmobile chalets. Three of them were built and even partially erected by inmates. The inmates had a great opportunity to work in many aspects of the forest industry. They worked hard and I bet they slept well too.

The inmates were a real asset to the community as they attended to other jobs as well, like clearing snow from the senior citizens housing, maintenance of parks, cutting trails, building fencing and countless other jobs.

Some of the inmates got involved in making totem poles, which became a very interesting and rewarding endeavour.

In about 1978 the Bear Creek Camp was relocated and rebuilt up by their mill, a mile or so away, leaving their old site empty near the main road. It became a convenient place for people to camp overnight when travelling up to the park.

In 2002, Jim Morgan, the senior corrections officer advised that the facility would close down on March 10. The inmates will be transferred to Kamloops or other institutions. The wise government decided to save money by closing it down, but in the end will spend far more to build new prisons to look after these minimum-security inmates than it would have if they had kept the Bear Creek facility operating.

Timber Country: History and Pictures of Logging Camps in the North Thompson Valley was written by Clearwater local Glen Small. The third printing of the book is available for purchase at Buy-Low Foods, while quantities last, along with a variety of other local authored books.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is an independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C.’s 1st vaccine-induced blood clot case detected in Interior Health

Interior Health also recorded 52 new cases of COVID-19

(Kamloops This Week file photo)
Probe into TNRD spending taken over by federal police unit

Financial Integrity Sensitive Investigations Unit is now reviewing the case

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Stolen truck found broken down on Highway 97C, Williams Lake suspect arrested near Ashcroft

A security guard first noticed the truck, and thought it looked suspicious

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
57 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

Thirty people in the region are in hospital, 16 of whom are in intensive care

File photo
Stolen Alberta vehicle found in flames in Blue River

Local RCMP also attended house fire evening of May 2.

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Findings indicate a culture of racism, misogyny and bullying has gripped the game with 64 per cent of people involved saying players bully others outside of the rink. (Pixabay)
Misogyny, racism and bullying prevalent across Canadian youth hockey, survey finds

56% of youth hockey players and coaches say disrespect to women is a problem in Canada’s sport

Most Read