Back in Time

Historical Perspective

  • May. 5, 2020 12:00 a.m.


The construction section of the highway five miles this side of Blue River was a sea of mud and rocks. Several regular trips such as AMCO and Yellowhead Freight we still running, more or less on schedule. A week previous the driver of a welding truck spent the night in the cab with mud and water up to the deck.

The highway department had been busy as warm spring weather had loosened the ground. The back road to Blackpool was also blocked by a mudslide about two miles south of Clearwater. A local bulldozer was hired to move the slides.


A fire in the Clearwater area took place at about 2 p.m. with a quick response from the local fire department. An area of approximately half an acre on school property behind Clearwater Secondary School was burned on the hillside.

The fire department poured between 1,600 and 1,800 gallons of water on the blaze before they were satisfied it was out. The origin of the fire wasn’t immediately known. The Clearwater Volunteer Fire Department was making great strides in improving its equipment needed for the job.


The second annual report of the Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital was presented at a public meeting with 22 members present. The terms of three directors had expired at the meeting — Mrs. Lois Moss, Mr. H. Heemskirk from Blue River and Mr. Jack Foote.

Results of the elected to fill two three-year terms and a one-year term resulted in Mrs. Moss and Fred Braun serving for three years and Mr. Heemskirk accepting the shorter period.

Jack Foote, who had been a member of the board since 1969 did not seek re-election.

In his report chairman George Smith said the board received approval of the health minister to expand the service to a projected 22 beds by 1981.


Skaters from Raft Mountain Skating Club recently travelled to Kamloops Memorial Arena. They participated in a test day hosted by Mt. Paul Skating Club.

The results: Angela Rau passed Willow Dance; Debbie Pelton, Maureen Redman, Bridget McCallum and Leasa Zakall passed Dutch Waltz and Canasta dance; Leasa Zakall also passed Swing Dance; Mona Toth passed Dutch Waltz and Preliminary Figure; Kim Stockton passed Preliminary Figure. The club said it was pleased with the results the skaters were achieving.


Community spirit had not been lacking in Clearwater for young hockey players. For years the minor hockey group, faced with increasing costs for putting young people on the ice at the Sportsplex had skated close to the profit/loss line. However, for the past few years, they had completed the season with increasing problems.

A large group of hockey fathers and supporters decided to do something about the situation. They approached the Ministry of Forests and were granted a 35-acre tract of crown land in Birch Island on which timber was ready for selective thinning. The work was all volunteer and a number of people had donated time and equipment toward the project.

Dave Tremblay placed value of the project at a conservative $25,000, which would be donated toward existing debts of minor hockey with a donation toward a planned trip to Europe by a local hockey team.


Clearwater could have faced a “real dangerous situation” — a potential fireball, according to Clearwater Fire Department captain Guy Holland, explaining the propane leak in the Brookfield Mall.

Yves Primeau, employed to ensure the parking lot is kept clean, told the Times he usually completes his job early in the evening. On this occasion he was fortunately working within hearing distance of the propane regulator, just after midnight when it blew.

He phoned the RCMP, who patched him through to Holland from the Clearwater Fire Department. Within a few minutes the crew arrived with a fire truck and turned off the storage tanks behind the complex.


A cash reward was being considered to anyone who was able to provide information leading to the conviction of the person believed to have killed a young bull elk in the Dunn Lake area.

“Sometime during the period between April 15 and 19, an elk was seen in the back of a pick-up,” said conservation officer, Kevin Van Damme. “It’s believed it came from the Dunn Lake area. There had been a young bull elk sighted there recently.”

There are very few elk in this area, explained the conservation officer, and there was no legal hunting or limited entry season on them in all of Region 3.


There’s a difference between a labyrinth and a maze. A maze you get lost in. A labyrinth you find yourself. More than 60 Clearwater residents and some visitors learned the difference on Earth Day, as they helped build a weaving, circular past of stones at Robin’s Nest Bed and Breakfast — also the home of Ray and Satarra Negrin.

“We had a great cross-section of people take part in the stone laying ceremony,” said Satarra Negrin. “I think it was very healing and empowering to have the community involved like that.”


About 240 people helped Mike Wiegele celebrate the 35th anniversary of his heli-ski business. However, the best part for him was the number of children of guests and employees involved. “That’s an assurance that the things we are doing are meaningful,” said the Blue River businessman.

“At every table here there were kids … under the table, over the table and running around screaming.

“It means people are gaining confidence in the industry and the operation.”

Wiegele recalled that his wife was pregnant when he was starting his business, and they had nowhere to stay.

“That stuck in my mind very strongly/ We now have 220 people working here. Can the people working for us support a family in a reasonable standard of living? I know they do. I see numerous families building houses and making a commitment to stay.”


District of Clearwater would contribute $2,500 toward developing a business plan for an art, culture and technology centre being proposed by the Community Resource Centre of the North Thompson. “This business plan is an important component for that society,” said councillor Brent Buck, who was the council’s representative on the CRC board. “I think it’s important we step up to the plate and give it a nod.”


Tourism continued to grow in the Clearwater-Wells Gray Park area, according to Brad Bradbury, marketing manager with Tourism Wells Gray. Bradbury said the previous year was very productive for most tourism operators within the community.

“Visitor numbers through the visitor’s information centre are also trending upwards for the third consecutive year, as are coach and tour numbers,” he said. “Camping and day visitation stats also show a steady increase between 2012 and 2013.”


Former manager of Blackwell Park Operations Ltd., Merlin Blackwell, sold his park maintenance company after almost four decades of taking care of the various wilderness areas around Clearwater.

The business was sold to Brian Williams of Kamloops, who also had no shortage of experience looking after parks in British Columbia.

According to Blackwell, Williams took care of seven areas similar to Wells Gray Park in areas from Lytton to Quesnel.

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