Time Space Equation

Valemount Historic Society Our History: The First Five Years

Leonard Lea Frazer

Introduction: The first five years was a time of promotion and arm-twisting for members of the Valemount Historic Society.

However, back in the day
The original logo of the Valemount Historic Society, drawn by Archie McLean
The original logo of the Valemount Historic Society, drawn by Archie McLean
(1980s) you didn’t have to be a paid up member to be involved. The Society hosted dozens of community events to promote local history in Valemount and the surrounding area and the original group finally did realize their ultimate goal. A museum now stands as a shrine to local history; a home to all that’s important from our past.


Sept. 30, 1980 - Our first meeting was held at the Community Hall. Ideas for a possible museum were discussed.

Oct. 16, 1980 - 2nd meeting at Wilf and Marg Wilson's home. Work on our Constitution, under the Society's Act, began. At this point we looked the word 'Historical' up in Webster's Dictionary and found the following: "Historical - adj. pertaining to history, as historical studies; historic." It was decided that the official name of our group would be "The Valemount Historic Society".

Feb. 5, 1981 - Meeting held. Plans for a History Book on Valemount and the surrounding area began. Our Museum idea was put on the shelf for the time being. Archie McLean presented his design for our logo (the arrowhead) at this meeting.

Feb. 17, 1981 - An old switchboard from a local motel was presented to our Secretary, Marg Wilson, by a B.C. Tel representa­tive. This was our first museum donation.

July 1, 1981 - A Tourist Information Booth was built from com­munity donated material and labour and manned by volunteers for the summer. Our group took on this project because there wasn't an active Chamber of Commerce or Tourism Board at this time.

Sept. 13, 1981 - Tete Jaune Cemetery (15 miles north of Valemount) was the site of our 1st Annual Historic Picnic and work-bee. Spent four hours cleaning up the old graves, erecting one new grave marker and laid fresh wild flowers on all the plots. A picnic lunch and horseshoe pitch followed.

April 7, 1982 - History Book Committee formed. Joan and Arne Nordli donate a new four-drawer filing cabinet to our Society.

A recent picture of Joan Nordli, proudly showing off a photograph of the old Valemount train station.
A recent picture of Joan Nordli, proudly showing off a photograph of the old Valemount train station.

May 21, 1982 - Pioneer Day or Heritage Day held at the Valemount Elementary School with some members participating. The Valemount Community Arts Council presented our President, Dave Cunningham, with a dona­tion of $2,000 to help with the History Book.

July 7, 1982 - Meeting held with guests from Prince George - Kent Sedwick, Chairman of the Heritage Committee of the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George, Secretary Derek Trimmer and Paul Zanette, a B.C. Heritage Trust Program Student.

July 15, 1982 - The Canoe Valley Research Program was in full swing at this time. Local students Royce Curle, Bryan Blom, Kim Malcolm and coordinator Iva Clark ran the Tourist Information Booth during the summer and conducted interviews with local people in the surrounding area. The material from this program was later used in our History Book.

Aug. 2, 1982 - 2nd Annual Historic Picnic - held at Fene McKirdy's farm in Tete Jaune. A video movie was made with the help of Brian McKirdy and Liz Norwell and equipment borrowed from the College of New Caledonia, Prince George.

Nov. 10, 1982 - After approaching the Village Council regarding the possible fate of the Valemount train station, a municipal by-law was legally registered at the office of the Inspector of Municipalities to designate the station a Munici­pal Heritage Site and also proper­ty in Centennial Park. Perhaps someday the station will be moved to the new site and will become a museum.

Dec. 18, 1982 - At the annual Arts and Crafts Fair in Valemount we displayed old photographs, sold "Our Family Tree" books, made arrangements to interview different families we met and presented the highlights of our Historic Picnic, on video equip­ment borrowed from Joe and Margo Pallos.

Jan. 1983 - We started submitting to newspapers articles, updates, historical photographs, stories and a blanket ad asking former residents to send their family histories. We even had two inter­views on CBC Radio included in our History Book Promotion Cam­paign.

April 9, 1983 - Our "Multi-visual Show" was held at the Community Hall and $600 was raised from admission charges and by selling donated coffee and cakes. The show involved the use of four slide projectors and 2 - 8mm and 1 -16mm movie projector. All ten items on the program were com­munity and historical in content.

Ishbel Cochrane and Shirley Klettl at the front door of the new Valemount Museum.
Ishbel Cochrane and Shirley Klettl at the front door of the new Valemount Museum.

July 24, 1983 - We played dinner host to the Vintage Car Club of Canada on their Quarter Century Tour through B.C. Over $300 was raised from this event.

Aug. 13, 1983 - Pioneer Day at Mount Robson Provincial Park -with Margaret McKirdy, Histori­cal sculptor, Iva Clark - Soap Making Techniques, Murray and Ishbel Cochrane - demonstrating how to pack a pack-horse and providing horse rides for visitors.

May 3, 1984 - History Book Com­mittee meeting held with Mrs. Elma Tolliday - representative from the New Horizons Founda­tion and Mrs. Katherine Mathews of Prince George in attendance. We found out that New Horizons will help with funding costs up to one third of total costs of our History Book (we later received over $15,000 from New Horizons).

May 11, 1984 - Meeting held. We decided to order 1500 History Books. The book would have a yellow hard cover and would be entitled "Yellowhead Pass and Its People". Friesen Printers of Altona, Manitoba were chosen to do the printing.

May 26, 1984 - We put on a community auction with donations and volunteers and raised a total of $3175. A real community event! This money went toward the History Book production.

June 4, 1984 - A workbee was held to sort out over 3000 photographs to be used in the History Book.

Nov. 22, 1984 - Our finished History Books arrived in Valemount along with mailing cartons. The total cost of printing was over $54,000.

Dec. 5, 1984 - Received a cheque for $2,500 from the B.C. Heritage Trust to help us with our History Book costs.

Dec. 12, 1984 - CBC radio re­searcher and former resident of Valemount, Kathryn Aberle, gave a comprehensive review of our History Book on a morning radio program.

Feb. 25, 1985 - Received a letter and summary of organization and sample forms etc. to help us set up our archives from the Fraser Fort George Regional Museum. Also an invitation from the curator, Denise McCullum, to provide a three day workshop in archival work in Prince George to help train us in archival work.

Jan. 10, 1986 - At this luncheon meeting Aleda Bain and Joan Nordli ceremoniously ripped up a copy of the receipt from the bank stating that the loan of $12,000 had been paid in full. It took one year to pay back the loan. (This money had been borrowed to finance the balance owing on the History Books.)

The Future - Our plans for a museum have now been dusted off and taken down from the shelf. Besides working towards a proposed museum, we are kept busy organizing the Valemount and Area Archives, which will be used and hopefully appreciated by future generations. (I originally wrote this history in March 1986, and was a member of the Valemount Historic Society as of the 2nd meeting. The Valemount and Area Museum, housed in the old train station, opened on May 19, 1996, but that’s another story).