An old survey was recently donated to the Salmon Arm Museum. The plan was folded in three and came by Canada Post in a legal envelope with a single stamp on it. It had a Washington return address.
The Museum’s book keeper, Mary, picked up the mail at the post office. It was an ordinary looking letter. She opened it. Tucked inside were a copy of an email and a technical drawing on drafting linen. The ink drawing was carefully folded around a piece of acid-free padding.
The donor had emailed ahead, trying to find a good home for the plan. He knew it was special. He wrote that he had rescued it decades earlier when it was destined for an office dust bin.
The plan was hand-drawn by R.H. Lee and dated 1895. It made reference to the railway and Salmon Arm’s Station. Three streets were listed: Front, Main, and Cameron. None of the street names stood the test of time. The names have disappeared. Lee noted the legal description, NE ¼ Section 14, Township 20 Range 10, and titled the work “Plan of Townsite of Salmon Arm, B.C.”
I knew that the NE ¼ belonged to Mrs. Agnes McGuire in 1895, so figured she likely commissioned the survey. But who was Lee, the surveyor?
A little internet research found Robert Henry Lee in Kamloops from 1884 to 1935. Ohio born, Lee immigrated to Canada in 1881, arriving in Kamloops in 1884 to work as a civil engineer and land surveyor. Lee served as Mayor of the City of Kamloops from 1894 to 1896. In May, 1895 he began advertising as an architect. In 1898 Lee was appointed as the City Engineer until his retirement in 1928. Lee passed away in Kamloops in 1935 at the age of 76.
I wondered if there was more to the story.
Scott Owens at the Mary Balf Archives in Kamloops knew the name. Lee had designed many buildings in Kamloops including the Roman Catholic Church, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, the Bank of British Columbia, the Robson & Lee Store, residences for R.E. Smith and Frederick Young, and alterations to the Gaol and Courthouse.
Because he worked as an architect too, I wondered if the plans to Cameron House were Lee’s collection in the Kamloops Museum. “Were there any plans of buildings with Mansard roofs?” I asked Scott, thinking of the first hotel in Salmon Arm.
Scott told me that, of the surviving collection of Lee’s drawings in the archives, only one had a Mansard roof. It was the Bank of British Columbia, built in 1887.
“No man wanted to go a second time on a survey with Lee. He went at a terrific pace,” concluded the article.
I told Joe about who I thought Cameron Street was named for.
J.D. Cameron had come to Salmon Arm to build a hotel. He had been running the Landsdowne Hotel near Armstrong and the Victoria Hotel in Vernon before that. Cameron might have thought Salmon Arm would be a choice location because it was on the CPR mainline. There were no other hotels in the community. His hotel would be the first on the scene. Cameron purchased the biggest lot on the survey.
In November, 1894 the Inland Sentinel reported that there were rumors of a hotel being “put up” in Salmon Arm the next summer. “Mr. J.D. Cameron [was] around the valley with Mr. Tobin getting signatures for a license for a public house,” the paper reported.
“We sincerely hope the people of this valley will look into this matter before it goes any further for the reason that the people here have no money to spend on liquor,” an anonymous contributor wrote to the Inland Sentinel.
The community rallied a response, dividing at least one family.
“A man from Armstrong is trying to start a saloon at the front and all the men from Genelle’s [saw mill] and Canoe Creek signed the petition,” settler Annie Gordon wrote on November 27th, “But [Methodist Minister] Mr. Calvert has gone around with a counter petition and nearly all the ranchers have signed it[.] Tobin, Acheson, Old Ross, Obey Kidd and John Dolan, and Pat Owens are the only ones who signed for it. And Mrs. Ross, senior signed against it.”
Imagine the stir! The district’s tee-totaling Methodists were not pleased. Many had been members of the short-lived, local chapter of the Independent Order of the Good Templars (I.O.G.T.) organized in 1893 to practice temperance – or abstinence from alcohol. Unfortunately for the good-meaning membership, the lodge folded shortly before Cameron’s petition was circulated. One has to wonder, was it from a general lack of interest?
In any event, the yeays outnumbered the nays and Cameron’s petition for a license was successful. In 1895 he hired Mr. Bolton to build the hotel for $2,475. It was a unique piece of architecture for Salmon Arm: two storeys high and a Mansard roof that could be easily seen from the Salmon Arm Station. That same summer, Father Augustine Dontenwill offered Mass in the sitting room of the hotel. In December Father Edmond Peytavin, an Oblate from the Kamloops Mission, baptized Grace Cameron - the first Baptism on record in Salmon Arm.
Cameron ran his hotel for seven years before selling it in 1902. He moved to the Valley to farm, purchasing the R. Davis property. Did it matter that Mrs. R. Davis was one of the original I.O.G.T. tee-totalers? I wonder what the other members of the failed I.O.G.T. Lodge thought of their new neighbour? We’ll probably never know.
We’ll also never know if Lee, the surveyor and architect, designed Cameron’s hotel.
And we’ll probably never know why the name Cameron Street, now the access to Salmon Arm’s inner core parking lot, was dropped on the next known survey in 1906.
We do know the Robert H. Lee, the Mayor of Kamloops, was working in Salmon Arm, surveying so that Mrs. McGuire could subdivide her farm.
I wonder if Lee stayed overnight at Mrs. McGuire’s rooming house. Since she was a Methodist, she probably did not offer him a drink after he was finished work. The offer would have been turned down, anyway. Lee would have been in a hurry to catch his train back to Kamloops.
Imge of Robert Henry Lee, L.S. from publication
The L.S. Group, British Columbia’s First Land Surveyors. The book can be ordered from the website: BC Land Surveyors, http://www.abcls.ca/
Kevin Pattison dropped in the other day to check on the trails he worked on at R.J. Haney Heritage Village. Kevin’s enthusiasm for Helenita and Mary Lou nature trails is infectious. When I asked him to tell me what he liked most about the trails, Kevin grinned and started talking. Very soon I was seeing the trails from a whole new perspective.
“The Helenita and Mary Lou Trails at R.J. Haney Heritage Village are a delight to walk,” Kevin started.
“The reason the system is such a delight is because the trails meander through the natural landscape and have many, different, tiny pocket points where people can stop. Visitors can’t see where the trail is going and then, all of a sudden, they see a bridge. It is a place of discovery,” Kevin said.
He went on to say that the trails are raw and refreshing.
“I feel a great peace when I am walking them. They are so natural. I think all users feel one with nature when strolling the paths, like they are deep in the woods, but there are also peek-a-boo spots where they can see the town site. Beautiful Douglas firs, a mature forest bottom, the little picnic table and the park bench, invite walkers to sit down and breathe in the natural surroundings. There are lots of little critters scurrying around. Even when the snow is deep, there are all sorts of animal tracks out there.”
The trails appeal to young and old.
“For little kids the trail is an adventure because the trail meanders and ebbs and flows. Kiddies can run along the paths, go up a little, down a little, there’s a stream to see…”
Kevin went on to share the way he and his Shuswap Trail Alliance crew laid out the trails in 2011.
“When we were first designing the trails at the Village, I walked the site with Museum staff Ted McTaggart. I was trying to get a sense of who the future guests would be and what they would experience. The trail should seem seamless as people move through them and they do! The trails are also technically sound from the standpoint of sustainability.”
“I so look forward to bringing my grandkids for a visit,” Kevin concluded.
I was hooked right then and there. I know I need more trail time. I look forward to walking the trails on my lunch break this summer.
The two trails are named for former board members, Mary Lou Tapson-Jones and Helenita Harvey. Mary Lou was an ardent naturalist and Helenita saw great value and potential in the Haney property. Both women gave tirelessly of their time to Museum projects.
New collection thanks to donor Janice Grave.
Two “new to us” music boxes were accessioned at the museum this week. The original owners were George and Esme Ratcliff who were married on Christmas Eve 1931. These lovely artefacts are in working condition!
I wonder if the music boxes were wedding gifts.
Thank you Jan.
1967 was an exciting year for every elementary school Canadian child and, from my youthful perspective, it felt like a great year to be Canadian.
At Arthur Hatton Elementary School our music teacher wrote the words to a new song on the blackboard. I vaguely remember a piano in the room. The sheet music to a song by Bobby Gimby was open on the piano. But I know memory is a funny thing. Maybe it was a tape recorder or a 45 record on a player. Arthur Hatton was a new school and pretty high tech. It had all the bells and whistles.
The class lined up, tallest kids at the back. The music teacher sat at a right angle to us, conducting from the piano, keeping her eye on one of the tallest boys. He was doing an unconvincing job of mouthing the words.
Every music period we practiced “CA-NA-DA, We love thee…” in unison. Her plan was simple. She was going to teach the song to all the kids in her music classes. The whole school was going to sing the song at an assembly.
My brother and sisters came home humming the tune. Inspired, our mother, a former school teacher, gathered us around the kitchen table. That year we were going to send a piece of Canada to our grandparents in England. She told us to write short essays about our lives, what we liked most to do. I’m pretty sure she helped the youngest, Joey, with his assignment.
Mom had it figured. There was time to rehearse after school and before supper. There was a deadline. Dad had a trip planned to visit his mother and stepfather. Mom convinced Dad to tape us on his not-to-be-touched-by-children’s-hands reel-to-reel tape recorder to take as a gift to his mother. “CA-NA-DA, We love thee…”
We made the deadline. I don’t remember if there was a responding tape that made its way to Canada, but I remember there was a complication. The recording speed was different in England. The tape had to be converted. Perhaps there was a message back, but that’s where my memory fails me. It was a long, long time ago.
Near the end of the year there was an essay contest open to kids throughout the school district. The topic was What Centennial means to me. I ran across my entry in an old trunk last year, searching for something else. My mother had saved it for me. I unfolded the legal foolscap paper. It was cursive writing, penned in blue ink, big letters as if I had hoped my big hand would lend importance to the entry. It was three pages long. My handwriting has changed.
The essay was accompanied by a black and white newspaper photo taken at a school assembly. I had placed first and won $100.
The prize wasn’t the only highlight of the year. It was an exhilarating time. In July we gathered for cultural days at Riverside Park and tasted foods from around the world. I wasn’t lucky enough to take in Expo ’67, but classmates came back with stories of a summer adventure in Quebec.
For those of us who were sedentary, the Centennial Train came and went. I don’t remember the event, but I do remember the Centennial Caravan and my family eagerly lining up to see the joined tractor trailers with exhibits that told the Canadian story. It all seemed magical to me. It was an innovative approach I had not seen before….museum stories on wheels!
What was my personal centennial project besides writing my first essay? To take a French course before it was compulsory. I was concerned hearing about Charles de Galle’s speech in Montreal ending with and emphatic "Vive le Québec libre! Vive, vive, vive le Canada français! Et vive la France!"
In my young mind I needed to learn this other official Canadian language. Fifty years later, I’m still working on that project.