James MacLennan, son of David James, stands beside his automobile.

James MacLennan, son of David James, stands beside his automobile.

The original pioneers of the North Thompson

The MacLennans settled in the valley in the early 1900s and remained ever since

For more than a century the MacLennans have called the North Thompson Valley home.

More specifically, those who hold the family name have lived on District Lot 1716 in Clearwater since David James MacLennan arrived from Dingwall, Scotland and took up the property in 1903.

David James’ grandson Warren MacLennan, who currently resides on the piece of land, said it was likely the knowledge the Canadian National Railway would be cutting through nearby that inspired his grandfather to put down roots in the area.

“We always just assumed it was because the railroad was coming through the valley,” said Warren.

“With the railroad coming through, that created a boom for railroad ties, so that’s what a lot of the settlers were doing— cutting railroad ties for the railroad and we have pictures of grandpa carving logs to make them—I think logging was their mainstay at that time.”

Before coming to Canada, David James worked as a lawyer in the court system of Dingwall, a town roughly 50 miles from Glasgow, where his father served as mayor.

David James left for Halifax, by way of Liverpool, England in 1902 and received the deed for the property in the North Thompson a year later.

Not long after acquiring the deed, his girlfriend Susan joined him in Canada and the two got married, a relationship that was surrounded by a bit of controversy, Warren said.

“First of all she lost her mother as a very young girl and her father was over in Panama working on the canal, so after she lost her mother she went up to Dingwall because she had relatives up there,” said Warren.

“But they were of the Order of Masons, which I don’t know a lot about, but my great grandfather was kind of a staunch religious fellow and his son taking up with her wasn’t the best thing.”

Warren added this rift may have been the very reason his grandfather moved to Canada in the first place.

He and Susan would marry in Kamloops shortly after her arrival, and Warren added he also has the certificate of David James for when he became a Mason himself.

“I can just see it would have rubbed his father the wrong way because his father was also the mayor of the town at the time, so you had to keep yourself in line.”

Being one of the first settlers in the area, David James would end up wearing a few different hats in terms of jobs, including the first Justice of Peace, likely because of his law background.

The MacLennans also operated the first post office once there were enough people in the area to warrant one, after they’d already making a farm along Raft River.

With his house in close proximity to the river crossing, on the wagon road, it made for an ideal location to put the post office.

Some of David James’ records show he established the post office in 1910 and a man from Chu Chua, named Eddy Fortier, delivered the mail weekly, all year round, from Louis Creek to Vavenby.

After their marriage David James and Susan began their family, and his son James, Warren’s father, would be one of the first students to attend Raft River School, along with his other siblings.

James was born on the farm and worked there while also doing some logging, until he got employed at Windpass mine, which it’s said he found interesting, particularly driving the ore truck up on the mountain.

After the mine shut down, James worked a few different jobs until he was employed by Eric Norfolk to work in his garage.

Some time around 1963 he bought the garage, which he operated with his wife until 1972 when he sold it and went back to work the farm until retirement.

“My dad (James) held onto the property then I acquired this part of it; I was more interested in farming than anyone else in the family,” said Warren.

“We’ve been here ever since grandpa—there were some hard times along the way.”