Former Upper Clearwater resident calls for end to feuding about the hall

Think of the beautiful old hall as “your child” - do you really want to rip it apart?

The Upper Clearwater Hall has been a source of controversy for several years.

The Upper Clearwater Hall has been a source of controversy for several years.

Editor, The Times:

It saddens me to read of the Upper Clearwater Community Hall and the “Hatfield and McCoys” battle going on.

Just a few years ago these same people worked together to restore this old building to the beauty it is today.

If only this building could speak … what wonderful stories it would tell! As a youngster growing up in the valley I can recall community dinners, box lunches, Christmas concerts, weddings, anniversaries, family gatherings, dances that lasted until daylight! I can still remember the teams of horses that had hauled the wagons or sleighs (our mode of transportation when roads were bad) tied up around the building!

However, with these happy memories there was also acrimony, even away back then! Often half of the neighbours were not talking to the other half! As I was a youngster I can’t recall what the ‘feuds’ were about but I do remember various community members not talking to each other! It caused my mother to coin the phrase, “Narrow valleys breed narrow minds.”

If memory serves me right the original name on the hall was CCF (Co-operative Commonwealth Federation that eventually became the NDP) and it was built mostly by members of that party. It eventually came under the auspices of the Upper Clearwater Farmers Institute (UCFI).

However, under whatever name, the people who constructed the hall built it for the good of the community, to hold the above mentioned activities.

The women provided the food for the dinners and dances, the men supplied the wood for the old barrel heater. Local musicians played for the dances – my mother, Cecile, on the piano, and the Ludtke brothers and Henry Hogue on the fiddles, sometimes there was an accordion. It was all very lively! Often the dances were spontaneous – this was before we had phones and electricity, so, to notify the neighbours about a dance that evening someone would drive, or go on horseback, to each of the rural mailboxes and leave a notice!

In the summer the attendance at these functions grew with the addition of road construction crews and forestry/parks personnel! The old hall was the centre and heart of the community.

I’ve not talked to anyone in the upper valley about the conflict over the present management of the hall, nor attended any meetings regarding its upkeep. All I know is what I’ve read in the paper.

Obviously, money and taxes are at the root of the conflict. My one question is how much is each landowner paying? Are we talking thousands or a few hundred dollars per year? We all pay taxes for things we’re not using (in my case, schools!) but, it’s part of the price for supporting the community and our lifestyle.

I wonder, is some of this conflict caused by “old-timers” versus “newcomers?” Are ‘they’ presenting ‘new’ ideas that neighbours who have lived there longer don’t want to accept? Or ‘old’ ideas that are outdated and rejected?

Surely, as adults, and with the good of the valley uppermost in their thinking, these people can sit at a table and give and take until this is worked out! Think of the beautiful old hall as “your child” – do you really want to rip it apart?

I remember going into the hall just after the major renovations – I was shown, with much pride and joy, each of the changes – the lovely kitchen, washrooms, lights, doors.

I was told the names of who had been responsible for this or that. I was in awe! Obviously, most everyone had been on board at that time and had worked as a team to get this building restored and equipped. Please, for the sake of neighbourliness, for history, for the future – work out your differences.

You’re all good people. You surely are not happy with all this discord. This is 2016. Please try to restore your community’s health! Will you really be ‘proud’ of your actions if the hall is closed?

Gloria Petre

Clearwater, B.C.