Year in Review: A look back at 2021

Lindsay MacInnes helps her daughter Alexandra clip in her skis for her lesson with the rabbits program on Sunday Jan. 17. This image was published in the Jan. 21 issue.Lindsay MacInnes helps her daughter Alexandra clip in her skis for her lesson with the rabbits program on Sunday Jan. 17. This image was published in the Jan. 21 issue.
After the rain came down, the Tsao family’s igloo collapsed. Now, they have a cool fort to play out of, where Lucas Tsao has been keeping watch. This image was published in the Feb. 11 issue.After the rain came down, the Tsao family’s igloo collapsed. Now, they have a cool fort to play out of, where Lucas Tsao has been keeping watch. This image was published in the Feb. 11 issue.
Eric was lost in concentration painting a paper mache dinosaur egg at Riverside Child Care. Denise Boden, ECE, stopped by the Times office to grab some old issues and we were happy to oblige! The dinosaur eggs turned out great and Boden said the kids had a lot of fun. (I’m sure they’re all caught up in the news as well). This image appeared in the March 4 issue.Eric was lost in concentration painting a paper mache dinosaur egg at Riverside Child Care. Denise Boden, ECE, stopped by the Times office to grab some old issues and we were happy to oblige! The dinosaur eggs turned out great and Boden said the kids had a lot of fun. (I’m sure they’re all caught up in the news as well). This image appeared in the March 4 issue.
Members of the Vavenby Fire Department took part in a live fire practice. A designated vehicle was lit on fire with a propane torch and the team practiced their skills in putting out the blaze. This image appeared in the April 1 issue.Members of the Vavenby Fire Department took part in a live fire practice. A designated vehicle was lit on fire with a propane torch and the team practiced their skills in putting out the blaze. This image appeared in the April 1 issue.
Madyson Clark spent the day at Peacock Hair Studio in an effort to fundraise for new equipment for the upcoming dirt track racing season at the Clearwater Speedway. This image appeared in the April 22 issue.Madyson Clark spent the day at Peacock Hair Studio in an effort to fundraise for new equipment for the upcoming dirt track racing season at the Clearwater Speedway. This image appeared in the April 22 issue.
This head-turner GMC got a lot of attention as Grama, with her hot pink hair and driving gloves, made her way through town for Cruisin’ Clearwater. This image appeared in the May 13 issue.This head-turner GMC got a lot of attention as Grama, with her hot pink hair and driving gloves, made her way through town for Cruisin’ Clearwater. This image appeared in the May 13 issue.
A couple Raft River Elementary students were all smiles as they gave Const. C.S. Lockwood a high five on their way to school. The two riders were part of a cohort of kids who took part in the bike train during Bike Week. Members of the Clearwater RCMP detachment, Clearwater and Blackpool Fire Departments and Borrow Enterprises were set up along the route to help control traffic to ensure the bikers got to school safely. This image was published in the June 3 issue.A couple Raft River Elementary students were all smiles as they gave Const. C.S. Lockwood a high five on their way to school. The two riders were part of a cohort of kids who took part in the bike train during Bike Week. Members of the Clearwater RCMP detachment, Clearwater and Blackpool Fire Departments and Borrow Enterprises were set up along the route to help control traffic to ensure the bikers got to school safely. This image was published in the June 3 issue.
These four puppies were happy to be out on the water. Bronte Dowell, his girlfriend, a friend and the pups took a trip up to Clearwater Lake for the first time and went for a paddle. The four dogs, Nala, Journee, Willow and Rosie, also have an Instagram page (@thesquishypack) and go on lots of adventures. This image appeared in the June 17 issue.These four puppies were happy to be out on the water. Bronte Dowell, his girlfriend, a friend and the pups took a trip up to Clearwater Lake for the first time and went for a paddle. The four dogs, Nala, Journee, Willow and Rosie, also have an Instagram page (@thesquishypack) and go on lots of adventures. This image appeared in the June 17 issue.

After the year that was 2020, many of us were more than happy to wave it goodbye and welcome in the new year. While we did get a relatively normal-ish summer, we experienced more waves of COVID-19, feeling like we’re on a roller coaster we should’ve gotten off of long ago.

Though the year wasn’t what many of us were expecting, there are many examples of how we’ve made the best of a less-than-ideal situation: our kids were able to play sports again and participate in tournaments; community generosity continued to shine as local groups such as the food bank, the hospital auxiliary and the high school boy’s soccer team saw extraordinary support and the sound of engines could be heard in the community as the Clearwater Speedway opened after over a decade of closure.

But in 2021, we also saw community division, natural disasters that brought B.C.’s third-worst wildfire season and floods that took out numerous major highways, and now it looks as like we’ll be ringing in the new year in a similar way as the last — with restrictions.

This year, let’s wish 2021 a hearty goodbye, remembering that we cannot have the good without the bad: Goodbye 2021, here’s to 2022.

January

After a year hiatus, kids sports returned to the arena, as minor hockey players and figure skaters were back on the ice. Little ones were also able to learn how to ski as the rabbits program returned to Candle Creek Trials.

A man was in hospital and a dog dead after a serious crash near Vavenby mid-January. The collision shut Highway 5 for a significant period as emergency crews worked to rescue victims and clear the scene. Mounties were looking for witnesses or dash cam footage to better understand how the collision took place. Alcohol was believed to be a factor.

A fundraiser for “Smiley” Dave Cooper went much better than expected. Less than 24 hours after revealing an idea to memorialize her step-father, Barb Davy’s phone was pinging non-stop with messages of support, as well as donations — reaching a third of their goal in a short amount of time. A few days later, the family had surpassed the initial $3,000 goal to erect a bench in memory of Cooper with a plaque in Pogey Park. The idea to install the bench in North Thompson Provincial Park’s Pogey Park area was because of her mother, Jan Cooper, and Dave’s connection to the area, having taken care of campgrounds in the area for decades.

While the area didn’t get a lot of snow, one family still ceased on an opportunity to have some backyard fun. After 40 days of hard work, and a lot of fun, the Tsao family had finished their backyard igloo. Armed with a spray bottle, Michelle Tsao started building the structure in mid-December and despite the lack of powder or gravity’s inevitable pull, she, along with the help of her two boys, Liam and Lucas, and husband, Usoff, managed to create a cute little snow hut. Usoff said the lack of snow didn’t deter Michelle at all, as she “had the patience to shovel snow from all over the yard to make the bricks.” The space was accented with a few lights, a welcome sign and some throw pillows.

February

Many Clearwater and area residents were able to improve their Internet connection, substantially increasing upload and download speeds, thanks to Elon Musks’ Starlink system being introduced to the area. The project, still in beta at the time, gave some of the most remote families, where cell service was barely achievable, the ability to watch Netflix, surf the web and work from home — at the same time. A very freeing opportunity for many.

A low-flying aircraft had many valley residents wondering what in the world was happening in their little neck of the woods. A quick few were able to snap a photo of the plane and posted to social media where discussions ensued to get to the bottom of what it was an why it was flying over Clearwater. The Times called an Royal Canadian Air Force 19 Wing in Comox to inquire about the aircraft. After a few more phone calls and emails, the answer was finally found. The plane was a CC-130J Hercules aircraft from the 436 Transport Squadron of the 8 Wing in Trenton, Ont. This particular aircraft had left Ontario on a mission to bring a radar to 19 Wing to Comox. From there, it flew to Edmonton and then back to Trenton the following morning.

A housing needs assessment report done by the Thompson Nicola Regional District showed Clearwater residents what they already knew — rental properties are in high demand, but the district lacks the supply. Rental properties increased more than 50 per cent from 2011 to 2016 while household properties dropped nine per cent. The average renter makes about $36,144 per year, while rental prices continue to increase and 17 per cent of Clearwater families are considered “low income,” 24 per cent of those with children below the age of 18.

After voluntarily suspending construction before the new year, TransMountain re-mobilized it’s “7,000-strong workforce.” The safety shut down was in response to two serious incidents that took place: a contractor at the Burnaby terminal was seriously injured in December 2020, and an SA Energy employee was fatally injured on site near Edmonton.

March

A coalition was established to find a new veterinarian for Clearwater after its long-time vet announced his retirement. The demand for a veterinarian in the Clearwater area has increased as many people in the district and surrounding area have an array of animals, including horses, pigs, cattle, llamas, ducks and chickens, as well as cats and dogs.

Evergreen Acres Senior Housing Society received a grant of $300,000 from the Wells Gray Community Forest Commission to build a new amenities building for the senior’s complex. The new building will b 3,000 sq. ft. and will be stocked with a full kitchen, as well as dividers to hold multiple events for the senior residents.

The Clearwater Times donated $240 to local horse rescue Appaloosa Allies, after a subscription campaign held throughout the month of December.

Dr. John Soles announced his retirement as a family doctor in the community.

Interior Health announced COVID-19 vaccinations clinics throughout the interior as vaccines became more readily available in B.C. The majority of clinics had the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

The Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital Auxiliary purchased a new ventilator for the hospital after receiving funding from two local charitable organizations. The North Thompson Communities Foundation and the Clearwater and District Hospice Society each provided about half of the $53,000 price tag in grants to the auxiliary to purchase the ventilator, something that had been on the hospital’s wish list for quite some time.

Vaccines arrived in Clearwater, with those aged 80 and over getting their first shots against the coronavirus mid-March. As of March 22, 70,000 first doses had been administered across the interior.

The Times was a finalist in the Newspaper Excellence category int eh BC & Yukon Community News Media Association’s 2021 Ma Murray awards in its circulation class.

April

Clearwater’s dreams of becoming a year-round event and wedding destination gained steam thanks to a $250,000 grant from the B.C. government. The funds, provided to the Clearwater Ski Club and Lodge, came from a $90 million community economic recovery infrastructure program. The grant was earmarked for upgrades and add capacity at the lodge, as well as maintain the ski hill and provide lights for night skiing.

Forest View Place would become the new home for a few hens. Local retired carpenter Daniel Boudreau was the mastermind behind a chicken coop fit for a king in a green space behind the building. He and recreation coordinator for Forest View Nicole Weber worked together to bring the project to Clearwater.

Protesters identified as “accomplices” of the Tiny House Warriors and Braided Warriors group locked themselves to TransMountain equipment for 12 hours in an effort to protest the pipeline expansion project. After 12 hours, the two protesters were cut out and arrested for breaking and entering.

A fire in Vavenby decimated a home, leading the surrounding communities to come together in support. Not too long after the incident, a GoFundMe was created for the family to raise money to pay for a place for the family to live, as well as purchase new belonging, such as clothes.

After a year without youth sports, both soccer and minor baseball were gearing up for a new season. The Clearwater Youth Soccer Association had to shut registration early due to “unprecedented” numbers registering.

An attempt to provide a temporary fix to the Clearwater River Road washout came to a halt after crews discovered the slope to be too unstable to support repairs. The washout was another blow to Clearwater’s tourism industry, having happened after heavy rain and flooding in the area. Whitewater businesses in the district were geared up to begin a late season after a spring and early summer of lockdowns in 2020, only to have the only access road to the park and key whitewater access points wash out.

May

A petition effort by Tammy Arishenkoff to keep David Ennis, formerly Shearing, from achieving parole garnered 88,469 signatures, equalling 4,000 pages. She is a childhood friend of Janet and Karen Johnson. The girls and their family were murdered by Ennis on a family trip to the Wells Gray Park area.

Firefighters tackled a blaze that consumed a home in Clearwater. Both occupants of the home got out safely, but there was very little left of the residence and the contents on the property. A GoFundMe page was created to support the elderly owner of the home.

Forest View Place said hello to new chickens. The project was the brainchild of former carpenter Daniel Boudreau who constructed the coop and planned to name it after his wife Lynda. The chicken house has an interactive design, allowing the residents to pull on various strings to open windows into the coop.

The District of Clearwater hired a new chief administrative officer as the current CAO, Leslie Groulx, had announced her retirement. John Thomas, the new CAO, would begin the new gig at the end of June.

The City of Kamloops began plans for a memorial for fallen Snowbird Capt. Jennifer Casey on the one-year anniversary of the devastating plane crash that took her life during the Snowbird’s “Operation Inspiration” flight across Canada. The memorial would have a home in the future Fulton Field Park, which will be located on Tranquille Road near the Kamloops airport.

June

Flags were lowered to half mast at the District of Clearwater, as well as many establishments in Clearwater and across the country after the graves of 215 children were discovered at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops on May 27. The remains were found by using ground-penetrating radar. Residents throughout Clearwater and around the world were urged to show their support to those grieving by putting teddy bears on their porch and leaving their light on at 5 p.m. There were dozens, if not hundreds, of teddies left on porches across the North Thompson Valley.

Local restaurateurs were happy to finally allow indoor seating again, after a two-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many owners said it felt one step closer a feeling of normalcy.

Thick, black billowing smoke could be seen from miles away after a tanker truck caught fire on Highway 24. When emergency crews arrived, the chief on duty deemed the fire unsafe for crews to attack, and ordered them to pull back. About 10 minutes later, the truck exploded. The B-train tanker truck was carrying 38,000 litres of gasoline and 15,000 litres of diesel. The driver of the truck was okay.

Indigenous and non-Indigenous members of the community gathered in orange shirts and regalia, some with drums in hand. The ceremonies were held at the Dutch Lake Community Centre field. Later in the day, a drum ceremony was held at Clearwater Secondary School at the tennis courts where 215 orange ribbons, and almost as many teddy bears, had been tied to the fence in honour of the 215 children found at the former residential school in Kamloops.



newsroom@clearwatertimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter