Sometimes stories come to light in the archives that are precious. Timing is key. We’ve been talking politics at lunch and the recent All Candidates’ Forum in the upcoming Federal election.

We don’t often get visits from Federal Leaders in Salmon Arm. Everyone remembers when Pierre Trudeau visited Salmon Arm, though, and offered his locally-famous salute.  Trudeau was travelling with his sons across Canada and was met by three picketers.

Five years earlier, the Provincial Leader was making rounds to 12 communities in the interior. On the last Sunday in April, 1973 Premier Dave Barrett drew an overflowing crowd to the Salmon Arm Motor Hotel. The Salmon Arm Observer reported that questions were for the most part friendly. Premier Barrett appeared relaxed, mingling with the crowd and removing his jacket. He made his address in his shirt sleeves.

Barrett made no promises.  He stressed repeatedly that his government was interested in a dialogue with the people – open to suggestions and criticisms.

Extra tables had to be set up during the $10 a plate NDP party sponsored luncheon.

It was standing room only for the public meeting held later in the Salmon Arm Motor Hotel banquet room. There was an estimated 250 people inside the room and there were people clustered around the door outside.

Bill King, MLA for Revelstoke and Kamloops MLA Gerry Anderson were there.  Shuswap MLA Don Lewis introduced the Premier.

School teacher Dave Hadley chaired the meetings. He was the President of the Riding Association and living at Gabe’s Bunk House at the time.

Mayor Martin Budziak extended greetings from the Municipality.

And then Barrett spoke. He stated there was nothing mystic or magical about governing, contrary to the impression fostered by the previous administration. He said it was just a matter of hard work and common sense.  The Premier acknowledged that the MLAs had received a substantial pay increase, but were asked to work a good deal harder.

The Premier reported that unemployment had been reduced in the province. He went on to report that his party discovered the province was in debt when they took over leadership and he refused to use Socred term contingent liabilities.

Barrett said the NDP had a more orthodox method of bookkeeping. He thought he had better announce the debt rather than wait a year and be accused of creating what he inherited.

“We are most anxious to hear from the people. Mail is being answered. We want you to know that we are listening. We want people to get involved in governing.”

He also said the tour of the province was being paid by the NDP party, not like the previous government’s Cadillac caravans.

Premier Barrett reported that a number of bills had been passed in his seven months of government. They included the:

  • Daily Hansard
  • Daily question period in the house
  • Pension increase
  • Removal of the discrimination against First Nations who could not receive home acquisitions grants
  • Land Bill
  • and government auto insurance.

“We are not perfect,” he said. “We make mistakes but we have the nerve to tackle the problems.”

Dealing with the Land Bill, Barrett said his party had promised action to preserve agricultural land and kept that promise. Barrett predicted that, come the next election, not one party would advocate for its removal. He added, that it was also incumbent on the government to make sure farming becomes economically viable. 

Barrett went on to talk about local matters and promised to send the provincial economist to Salmon Arm to report on the status and prospects for the Trilam plant. Barrett said that his government would see what could be done about getting a wood fibre or other business into operation but cautioned that he could make no promises without a favourable report.

The Premier also stated that Salmon Arm’s impaired driver training course would receive provincial funding and would not be allowed to die.

Returning again to the theme of government he said:

“We need your help and cooperation. Working together we can make BC the paradise it should be for all citizens.”

That ended the lunch.

What to do for supper?

Premier Dave Barrett and the MLAs had a hockey game they wanted to watch. They wanted to relax. Dave Hadley knew a place where there was great food and a TV.

“The game will be on,” Hadley promised.

He invited the premier to supper at Gabe’s bunkhouse.

Anybody know it? Anybody eaten there?

The Pfohs had a rooming house in the concrete building on 4th St. at the time.

There weren’t a lot of places to dine in Salmon Arm in 1973. Vi Pfoh served a smorgasbord and opened it up to the pubic.

Picture the Premier and his MLAs, sitting at a large harvest table. The place wasn’t fancy. They were in their shirt sleeves too. Undercover. They didn’t want to be acknowledged. They just wanted to watch the first game in the Stanley Cup series.

In the middle of the game, the news came on.

The tour was announced. The guys who lived at the rooming house were sitting at the trestle table of course, chowing down. They turned to the premier with their mouths open. He was just the guy they’ve been eating with.

Only in Salmon Arm.

By the way Chicago won 8-3 at the Montreal Forum.

Montreal won the series 4-2.