Back in Time

Historical Perspective


Shoppers in Clearwater were going to find it increasingly easy and pleasant to shop in their home town. All three local stores were planning, or implementing, improvements including new lines of stock, painting and building, new self-service racks, and greater variety and choice.

Bourke’s was centralizing each department: dry goods, drugs, groceries, produce, frozen foods and hardware.

Nelson’s had been painting and extending their display and the whole store seemed roomier and airier.

Clearwater General had been busy painting since before the snow began.


Capt. Arthur Dillen, who had just returned from active service with the U.S. Army in Vietnam, was a recent visitor in Vavenby, renewing old acquaintances en route from his parent’s home in Smithers to Fort Worth, Texas. Capt. Dillen was a former resident of Clearwater and a 1958 graduate of Clearwater Secondary School.

On his return to Texas, he would attend school for the instruction of helicopter pilots. For the past year, he had been piloting helicopters in Vietnam. It is hard for us to believe, he said, the sordid conditions under which the people are forces to exist there.


“It was unfortunate that a few ruffians had attempted to completely demolish the Flag Pole, which is the key factor in this guess the time contest,” said and Elks committeeman. “However, a friend attempted to reset the Flag Pole, but the same ruffians returned a second night to further their cause of destruction.

“The Pole is still the indicator of the ice break-up, and the time it falls into the water will set the time of the winning ticket.”

A small group of local employers attended Clearwater Secondary School to hear about a program that would involve placing students in work situations with willing employers to stimulate their interest. The program was designed to give senior students an opportunity to decide if they’d be suitable or interested in such positions.


A car was driven over the bleachers at the Sno Drifters race track and either set on fire or caught on fire, said Clearwater RCMP. A day later a local man reported a 1969 Dodge Sedan missing from the Sunshine Valley area and police later determined this was the vehicle driven over the bleachers.

Also around the same time, a Birch Island man reported damage to a vehicle that had shots through the radiator and the glass cab.

A fire of a suspicious nature occurred the same evening at a fruit stand located in the Wells Gray Hotel parking lot. Only minor damage was sustained.


The forest fire season had officially opened in B.C. and the Ministry of Forests was busy organizing fire suppression forces around the province. Fifteen air tankers and nine bird-dog aircraft would be stationed at air bases, lookouts would be staffed, and ground forces would be placed on alert.

More intensive use would be made that year of the lightning detection system, which gave early warning signs of possible lightning-caused fires.


A new multi-purpose building would be constructed at Bear Creek Camp in the summer, according to camp superintendent Dave Gates. The two-story structure would measure 40 feet by 60 feet and would be adjacent to the main building and near the first hut. A hobby room, a finishing room, two large activity rooms, a chapel, and two offices would be housed in the new facility.

The new building didn’t signal any planned increase in the number of inmates at Bear Creek, said Gates. It was intended to better cope with the needs of the present population.


It could have been much worse.

That was the key phrase on everyone’s lips at the rescue staging area following the derailment of a VIA Rail train south of Blue River.

“When it came time to stop, the car was teetering over the river and we all just froze up. I thought, ‘This is it — I’m going to die,’” said a passenger as she warmed herself by the bonfire in the rescue area that was set up near Berry Creek Forest Service Road.

All but two of the 13 cars of the westbound rain carrying more than 200 passengers and crew members left the railway tracks.


A heritage conservation bylaw approved by the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board meant that owners of historically important buildings would be able to have their property designated a heritage site, and thereby receive certain benefits, said Steve Quinn TNRD director for Area B.

The new bylaw would not mean the TNRD would be able to designate certain buildings as heritage sites against the owner’s wishes, he emphasized.

It would, however, allow the TNRD to work with property owners to protect structures that otherwise might be lost.


“At a recent school board meeting, the trustees voted unanimously in favour of recommendations that could make trades training easier in the school district. A committee with members from Thompson Rivers University and the school district would look into how to start the suggested program.

John Harwood, a local school board trustee, said the proposed program would let students get their high school diploma and a first-year trades certificate from TRU at the same time. The proposed program wasn’t just for high school students, he added. Adults would also be able to enroll in it.


Hard work by B.C. Forest Service firefighters contained a fire in Upper Clearwater to 15 hectares. The fire, which was started by backyard burning, was located about 25 km north of Clearwater near the road to Wells Gray Park.

An initial attack crew and forest officer responded to the Clearwater Valley Road fire after it was reported to the Kamloops Fire Centre. With the assistance of two air tankers and a bird-dog aircraft, the ground crews were able to successfully contain the fire.


Clearwater Fire Zone had its first fire callout of the season — a 1.7 ha blaze on private property next to Dunn Lake Road south of town. Forest protection officer Jim Jones reported he received the call at about 5:30 p.m.

The call had first gone to e-911, which had called Clearwater Fire Department. However, as the fire was located outside municipal boundaries, the call was transferred to the forest ministry.

Unfortunately, because it was so early in the season, the fire zone had no initial attack crews on hand so the call went to Clearwater and Blackpool fire departments under their mutual aid agreements, said Jones.


Central Interior Traffic Services out of Clearwater and other provincial partners had been working together to address an ongoing issue with commercial grain haulers dumping grain on roadside pullouts along Highway 5 between Valemount and Avola.

The practice had been happening for a few years and caused problems for the environment, wildlife and people driving that stretch of highway. According to RCMP, it was uncertain why it was happening, but one possible reason was to reduce weight before arriving at the commercial weigh scales in Kamloops.

The BC Conservation Officer Service (BCCOS) was forced to kill a black bear that had become used to hanging around one of the dump sites and was feeding on a pile of grain.

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