Valley Voices: Harry William Fairbrother

One of the more important ferry operators was Harry Fairbrother, who ran the ferry from Blackpool to East Blackpool until about 1970

Harry Fairbrother shows off a big fish he caught while operating the ferry.

Ferries were an important means of transportation during the early days in the North Thompson Valley. One of the more important was the ferry that ran from Blackpool to East Blackpool, and one of the more important ferry operators was Harry Fairbrother, who ran the Blackpool ferry for about 21 years until it closed in 1970.

According to information from his family and from the local history book Upper North Thompson Reflections, Henry William (Harry) Fairbrother was born July 11, 1905 in Long Eaton, England. In 1910 he immigrated with his family to Asquith, Saskatchewan. In later years he lived in Alberta and on the west coast, finally settling in Haney, B.C. with his wife Ina and their three children.

BpoolFerryAnglicanVanIn 1950 they moved to East Blackpool where Harry became the operator of the B.C. government’s reaction ferry on the North Thompson River.

A reaction ferry is unpowered and makes use of the force of the river’s current to move from bank to bank. Today there are only two on the North Thompson River, one at Little Fort and the other at McLure.

Built in 1909, the Blackpool ferry was the first of its kind on the river, having towers higher than usual to allow steamboat traffic to pass under the strung cable.

The ferry operated from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week, providing a vital link not only for the east side residents but also for the native Indians from as far away as Chu Chua who, with horses and wagon, crossed on their way to the Blue River vicinity to pick blueberries.

The North Thompson is a very powerful river and whatever the season Harry had a great deal of respect for it. The ferry service terminated in 1970 when Harry retired. He died at home in East Blackpool in 1985.

According to an article about his death in the Times, he had been an active member of the curling club in his retirement, often curling six or seven games a week. One of the more memorable occasions was when three of his brothers curled with him in the 1979 Clearwater Men’s Open Bonspiel. Frank, age 80, Harry 74, Ed 72 and Slim 68, had a combined age of 296 years – reportedly the oldest team of brothers to curl together provincially or nationally.

BpoolFerryInaHarryFairbrotherHarry had married Ina in 1935. The couple had three children: Don, Betty and Althea.

Ina took over the postmistress at the East Blackpool post office when Harry became the ferryman. At one point she was also the mail carrier. The CNR way-freight would slow down enough when passing their house to drop off and collect the mail.

Ina also retired in 1970 when the government closed the East Blackpool post office. She passed away in 1990.

The family home and post office that Harry built can be seen directly across the river from the regional park at the former Blackpool ferry launch.

 

Some have proposed that the park should be named after Harry Fairbrother.

 

 

Just Posted

Demonstrators take to Clearwater roundabout

Yellow vest protesters say it’s time for a change

Police chase ends in two arrests

Suspects in stolen truck evade RCMP from Alberta border to Clearwater area

A heartfelt thanks to the community of Clearwater

Editor, The Times: Our family, who gathered to celebrate Lucas Cowie’s life… Continue reading

Clearwater Rotary’s Christmas Light Up

Event draws both young and old to take part in its yearly activities.

Independent business in Blue River pays it forward

Blue River Sledz donates a generous amount of clothes to the less fortunate in Kamloops

REPLAY: B.C’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

Canucks score 3 power-play goals in 4-2 win over Oilers

Vancouver sniper Boeser has 6 goals in last 5 games

Microscopic parasite found in Prince Rupert water affecting thousands

More than 12,000 residents affected by the boil water advisory issued Dec. 14

Trudeau lashes out at Conservatives over migration “misinformation”

Warning against the “dangers of populism,” Trudeau says using immigration as a wedge political issue puts Canada’s future at risk.

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

Todd Hickling gathered donations and used gear to remove the cost barrier for kids to play hockey.

Canada’s ambassador meets with second detainee in China

Global Affairs says John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, met with Spavor Sunday

‘They’re coming:’ Flying cars may appear in urban skies by 2023

Air taxis will number 15,000 and become a global market worth $32 billion by 2035

B.C. VIEWS: Andrew Wilkinson on taxes, ICBC and union changes

Opposition leader sees unpredictable year ahead in 2019

5 tips for self-care, mental wellness this holiday season

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions urging British Columbians to prioritize self care through festive season

Most Read