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Valley Voices from the Past: Wells Gray Info Centre opens in Clearwater

The popular info centre building had its official opening in June 1986
Clearwater’s new Wells Gray Park information centre, at the junction of Highway 5 and the Park Road.

The article was originally published 36 years ago on Wednesday, June 25, 1986, in The Times.

By Keith McNeill

About 100 people and one moose were on hand Thursday morning last week for the official opening of the Wells Gray Provincial Park visitor centre at the junction of Highway 5 and Park Road.

On hand to officiate at the opening was local MLA and Minister of Tourism Claude Richmond. In his remarks Mr. Richmond said Wells Gray is one of the number one wilderness parks in the world. He complimented the community on the support given the new centre and said this was the finest park information centre he’s seen.

Parks regional director Milt Goddard noted that construction of the facility had been “fast-tracked” from decision to build last summer to completion this spring. He introduced members of the newly-formed Friends of Wells Gray Association, which he said could be very important to the park’s future.

Parks zone supervisor Pat Rogers thanks the many people who over the years have contributed so much to the park, many of whom were on hand for the meeting. Ida Dekelver in particular received strong applause from the audience. She has donated several items for the centre’s displays, as has the Kamloops Museum.

Clearwater Chamber of Commerce representative Bill Mattenley said his group is looking forward to working with Parks Division to operate the centre.

Also assisting in the opening were Parks visitor services director Rick Howie, district manager Raoul Lussier, Clearwater Queen Lisa Wilgosh, her Princess Val Braaten, Mrs. Enid Colborne on the organ and the Grizzly Mountain Men (who fired several black powder cannon salutes — one of which is reported to have almost put a chip truck in the ditch).

Special guest was Jerry the Moose, Parks mascot for their 75th anniversary this year. Jerry is modelled after a pet moose raised by Ralph Ritcey when he was a resident biologist in Wells Gray.

Most comments overheard were very favourable about the new building. Local hotel owner George Marcyniuk said he was going to recommend to all tour buses that they visit the facility.

Total cost of land, construction, landscaping, paving and exhibits was put at just under $400,000.

Upstairs features a gift and information shop, a relief map of the park and exhibits on various aspects of both Wells Gray and other provincial parks. Downstairs is an outstanding painting of the view from Green Mountain lookout by local artist Ron Meyer.

Only criticisms heard were that there was still no adequate signage for the Wells Gray turnoff, the cost of the building and the colour (grey with green trim).

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Clearwater May Queen Lisa Wilgosh and Princess Val Braaten pose with Wally the Moose inside the new Wells Gray Park information centre during opening ceremonies.