Time Space Equation: The Movie

Leonard Lea Frazer

We see a black screen and hear the squawking sounds of loons on a lake and then the huffing and puffing of a steam locomotive and a single train bell ringing.

Then, the opening titles appear, “A Grand Trunk Pacific Production.” We see a close-up still-shot of a locomotive wheel and steam shooting out to the side and hear the steam engine as it gains momentum and then a long train whistle is heard until the sounds fade.

‘History of Old Tete Jaune Cache’ and ‘Time Space Equation’ appears on the screen as the theme music starts.

“There’s a lot of history right here, at old Tete Jaune.”
“There’s a lot of history right here, at old Tete Jaune.”
Next, we see the host of the program walking beside the Fraser River and several wooden posts sticking out of the sandy shoreline. The camera zooms in on me (your host) dressed in a black tuxedo, bow-tie and black top hat. I welcome the audience with, “This is the site of Mile 53, at Tete Jaune Cache, and this is Time Space Equation… So, stick around!”

That is how the first episode of a new local documentary series started out. It never made it to the Discovery Channel or HBO. However, let’s continue with the story. It was fun making the video, with the help of Seth McDonald of Dunster, and then editing the scenes together to record one complete interpretative walking tour of Old Tete Jaune. Yes, let’s continue.

In the next scene we see a tall white wooden CN railway sign beside the tracks that reads ‘Tete Jaune.’ (we’re close to the original site of the Tete Jaune train station). ‘Mile 52’ appears in black on the screen and then we see our host walking into the scene and down the tracks. We switch to a close-up shot of him standing in front of the Tete Jaune sign. He says, “Kind of a windy day, down here at old Tete Jaune Cache. I’m standing not far from old Mile 52 and I’m going to be walking out on the peninsula, stretching out into the Fraser River to see where the town site once stood during railway construction days.

The sign that says, “Lift your flanges.”
The sign that says, “Lift your flanges.”
Then, we see Leonard as he walks through the bush on an ancient roadbed. “This is the old railway bed that I’m walking on,” he says to the camera. “The ‘Y’ was used to turn the train engines around (from the mainline) and to house some of the box-cars that were used for bunkhouse accommodation for the railway workers.” Our host stops at an old wooden sign, on a post, that displays two white dots on a black background. “This is one of the railway signs,” he explains. “If you look up here (pointing) this is a signal to the engineer to be sure to ‘lift his flanges.’ Now, for those of you who are not familiar with the term ‘flange’… that’s blades that stick out on the sides of a railway snowplough. They didn’t want the blades to get caught on the longer railway ties when going over a switch or a ‘Y’ junction point.”

Leonard continues walking and then stops. “This is the spot where the two tracks met to form the ‘Y’. As you can see, there are longer railway ties here but no sign of any metal rails.” He continues walking on the old raised roadbed, then says, “I’m walking almost in the middle of town. This is where old Tete Jaune Cache was and here is a picture of what it used to be like.” Leonard holds up an 11 x 14 black and white photo as the camera zooms in for a close-up of a scene of several men standing and sitting in front of one of the many stores on the main street of the old town site. “This is one of the stores that were at old Tete Jaune. There’s a lot of history right on this spot.” The scene changes and we see our host sitting in a relaxed position with the river flowing by in the background. “In 1912 the railway was coming through this area and paddle-wheelers were being constructed just one mile up the river this way (pointing up stream). And, about one mile down the river there was some docks that were being built by two major contractors in the construction of the new Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. Foley, Welsh and Stewart and the Siems-Carey Company were the two contractors that were busy working on the wharves.”

He continues with his interpretative dialogue, “Now, I’m going to be transporting myself down there in just a few minutes, but first, I’d like to tell you the story about how the paddle-wheelers were constructed and how they came down to Tete Jaune Cache.”

“Redpass, that was the end of the line in 1912.”
“Redpass, that was the end of the line in 1912.”
We now see a medium shot of Leonard standing with his arms folded. He speaks to the camera. “In 1912 there were two ships (required for the railway construction) that were in Victoria on Vancouver Island. They were disassembled and shipped across to Vancouver where they were put in several boxcars and moved by rail through the Roger’s Pass over to Calgary and then up to Edmonton. From there, they had to come back into British Columbia on the new GTP line through Jasper, Alberta, which at that time was called ‘Fitzhugh,’ and continued out past Moose Lake to a small place called Redpass. That was the end of the line in 1912. Here, the paddle-wheelers had to be shipped in ox-driven carts on the old ‘Tote Road.’ That was an interesting process because everything had to be dragged or pulled over and across the Tote Road and the two steam boilers over the two waterfalls on the Fraser River.”

“At Mile 51, just one mile from here, the ship-building yard was set up where the ‘Conveyor’ and ‘Operator’ were reconstructed. And, that was the easy part. Getting them down to Mile 52 was a bit of a bind. Out here (pointing) across the river is where the peninsula used to jut out. And, getting those two paddle-wheelers around the end of the peninsula was a really tough job. They had to actually drag them over the gravel bars using donkey engines” (set up on the shore).

The scene changes and we see our host standing in the lower area of the old town site. “But, there was one event in 1913 that changed everything at Mile 52. When the Fraser River flooded, half the town of Mile 52 was washed away. You could say, that was the end of Tete Jaune Cache.”

“See what I mean? That didn’t take very long.”
“See what I mean? That didn’t take very long.”
Another change of scene - “And, now I’m going to transport myself, through the magic of video, one mile down the track.” Looking at his watch he says, “And, I should be there right about…”  The scene changes and we see our host sitting on a low concrete wall looking at his watch. “See what I mean? That didn’t take long at all. Here I am down at Mile 53. This is the foundation of the old water tank used for the steam engines.”

Our host walks down to the beach. On the way he says, “Right about here there used to be a lot of warehouses where all the goods were unloaded off the railway, and right down here (pointing) where I’m about to go, is where the wharfs used to be and where the paddle-wheelers tied up.”

Leonard walks along a row of old wooden posts protruding from the water. After trying to push on one of the posts he says, “Just checking one of the posts here. Seems to be quite sturdy still, but there’s not much left, as you can see, of the old dock. Every year in the spring, a lot of old pieces of metal get washed up (come to the surface of the sand) and some of them appear here where the wharf used to be. Down by the water line is an old scoop-shovel. These were used in the construction of the roadbed, pulled behind a horse and one man operating it.”

The scene changes and now our host is standing back on the railroad. “At Mile 53, on my left hand side, there were lots of warehouses set up. Now, I’m going to walk just a little ways down the track to, what you might call, ‘Snob Hill,’ where all the surveyors and the foremen used to live at Mile 53 during the construction of the Grand Trunk Pacific.”

We jump to a close-up of a group of ladies (from 1913) walking along the tracks in a photograph held up by our host. “In 1913 the Women’s Press Association of Canada visited this same spot. I’m standing on the same site as this photograph. In the picture the women were going up on this little ridge here (pointing), which is where I’m going to visit right now and check out the old town site of (upper) Mile 53.”

Next, we see a close up of the shoes of our host. “I’m walking in a trench right now, where at one time a wooden pipe was buried which supplied all the water to this town site. Up stream, there is a (concrete) water tank and reservoir where all the water was brought in and sent down here to the houses, which I’m going to look at next.”

Then, “I’m still following the trench and right here (pointing down at the ground) we can see a junction and at this point we can tell where a house used to be. I’m going to walk back to where that house was. At Mile 53 there are several sites similar to this where there are chimneys and parts of foundations.”

Now, we see our host leaning on an old stone fireplace. “The flood of 1913, which wiped out half of the town site of Mile 52, did not reach this area, which is higher up from the river. Unfortunately, a few years after the flood, there was a fire that swept through the forest and burnt out all of the houses. All that remains now are some chimneys.”

In a new scene Leonard comments on a metal artefact. “This is what’s left of the old stove from this house and just over here is part of the old sink, which is another reminder that all of the houses here had running water, which was very modern for 1912.”

Our host continues to walk through the old town site. “Next, I’m going to look at one of the other buildings up on the higher part of the property.” Now at the site of an old house Leonard says, “There’s lots of trees growing inside the house perimeter and inside here we can see things that were left behind by the former residents. Here’s an old wok, part of someone’s shoe and, if we zoom in on this part of the chimney, we can see a piece of small-gauge rail which was used as reinforcement for the mantel of this chimney.”

In the last scene our host climbs part way up another chimney. “Up in the top here, there’s a piece of tar paper and that’s where the roof came in on the original building.”

The scene fades to black and we hear the sound of a steam locomotive again pulling away from the station. Then the ‘Time Space Equation’ theme music starts and a short slide-show of historical photos and drawings is presented, bringing the local documentary to a close.

A metal part from the old wharves at Mile 53.
A metal part from the old wharves at Mile 53.
An old sink; another reminder that there was running water in 1912.
An old sink; another reminder that there was running water in 1912.
A small-gauge rail which was used as reinforcement for the mantel of this chimney.
A small-gauge rail which was used as reinforcement for the mantel of this chimney.
Documentary host, Leonard Frazer, examines the backside of a chimney.
Documentary host, Leonard Frazer, examines the backside of a chimney.