Community Papers

Kamloops at 200: Floods, heat just memories now

Elsie Shields recalls a hot arrival to Kamloops.   - DAVE EAGLES/KTW
Elsie Shields recalls a hot arrival to Kamloops. 
— image credit: DAVE EAGLES/KTW

June 30, 1971, was the day I arrived in Kamloops, having moved from Edmonton with two small children ages four months and three years.

A friend of ours was also moving with her two young children in a Ford Cortina.

What a trip that was.

We arrived in the evening, crossing the bridge and driving down River Road, past the old stockyards.

It was not what I expected to see and not very scenic upon entering.

At that point, we somehow found our husbands, who took us for dinner before going to our new homes.

These homes were on the edge of town, as I remember.

Greenstone was just about the last street up Columbia.

We were in a “new” apartment building.

As our furniture had not arrived, we slept on the floor. Our friends were one floor below us.

What a shock, moving from a three-bedroom home to a two-bedroom apartment on the top floor, with only our friends nearby.

The heat was, to me, unbearable and seemed to be neverending.

Our poor little air conditioner in the living room could not keep up so, most evenings, until midnight, were spent down at Riverside Park or on Mission Flats, which was a lovely place at that time.

I watched water bombers right up the hill behind our place.

The sidewalks were so hot one could not stay long outside, although inside was sometimes just as hot.

It was a very hot summer.

Work for our husbands brought us to Kamloops and lots of changes have taken place since then.

It is easy to forget all the construction changes to this marvellous city.

Hotel 540 has doubled in size.

The mall downtown has been completely changed.

The car dealerships that were downtown have gone elsewhere.

Upper Sahali, Aberdeen and Dufferin were not there.

It is hard to remember.

The first few years of Kamloops were tough.

We got caught in the flood of 1972 as the water came through the ground to chase us out.

The following year, a forest fire almost got us.

I thought I could not get out of town fast enough.

But, that is now just a distant memory.

Now, friends have been made and Kamloops feels very much like home.

The hills and mountains are a wonder, never ceasing to amaze every day, while the seasons — all four of them — are part of the beauty in this part of the world.

It took a few years to love this wonderful city, but it is an unique place to live.

The people of Kamloops are part of that unique aura.

Whenwe arrivedher in 1971, there were aspects of Kamloops that bothered me.

As time has gone on, I know I have become a true Kamloopsian.


— Elsie Shields

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