BC Heritage Fairs Alumni

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Bill Miner and the Kamloops 2141 — February 26, 2016

Bill Miner and the Kamloops 2141

I was uneasy beginning this article, simply because I did not know what to write about. However, I settled on Bill Miner and the Kamloops 2141. I am very excited to show you this post; I am sure this will be brand new for many (we did not learn about the 2141 throughout the Kamloops 2014 Provincial Fair, so this should be new for some of the alumni as well).

The 2141 is the Kamloops steam engine (pictured below).

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Photo courtesy of Kamloops Tourism, 2012

The 2141 was built in the fall of 1912 (the same year as the Titanic), but luckily, this train has lived much, much longer than the Titanic.

And this here is Bill Miner, Canada’s first successful train robber.

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Photo courtesy of RCMP Archives, Ottawa ON

Bill Miner had committed a couple crimes and spent many years in jail by the time he got to Kamloops. It was 1906, and Miner and two friends, Dunn and Colquhoun came to Kamloops as prospectors. Miner and his gang held up a west-bound Trans-Continental train 13 miles east of Kamloops (May 1906). The train was supposed to contain valuable packages for the San Francisco earthquake victims and gold from the Nickel Plate Mine, but it did not.  The mail car did contain some bank packets containing $35,000, but Miner overlooked them.Miner ordered the engineer to uncouple the mail car and take the train further (where he supposedly had horses waiting), and he departed in disgust, with a total of $15 and some mail.

Miner headed off to the south, towards Campbell Creek, and the train quickly reassembled and sped off to Kamloops to inform the police with the news of the hold-up.

The following morning it was discovered that the gang was headed south towards Nicola Valley, without their horses. First Nations trackers, cowboys, Chief Constable E.T.W. Pearse, and Bill Fernie were sent to look for Miner, but it ended up being Constable William Fernie who found them first (he was alone, so he waited for the Mounted Police). The robbers, however, had seen Fernie, and fled. Fernie and Sergeant Wilson went on horseback looking for the men, and when they finally found them, near Quilchena, they were in the middle of eating lunch.

Though Bill Miner and his gang pretended that they were simply prospectors, Fernie did not think so, and Dunn shot his gun in a panic.

The police took the gang to a farm nearby, where the inhabitants claimed that the gang was a group of very kind people (apparently Bill Miner aka George Edwards, had worked at the farm). The police weren’t sure, and took the gang to Kamloops anyways. Miner was recognized because of a couple tattoos he had, and the gang was sent to New Westminster to be put in jail. Bill escaped a couple years later, and then was caught again, and kept in the US. Though Bill Miner was indeed a robber, he was known as the “Gentleman Robber” for he never hurt anyone intentionally. He died in 1913.

Now, how did the 2141 come into play? It obviously wasn’t the train that Miner robbed. Well, to shorten the lengthy explanation, after it was fixed, it became very important (to me, at least). It was 2002 when the train started offering the Spirit of Kamloops rides. These rides were about an hour and a half long, and the Bill Miner robbery was reenacted.

Although, I must admit, the robbery was much more exciting faked (they at least found some gold and shot gunpowder). I remember sitting on the train and looking at all the pretty views, and then, at one point, these men on horses would come riding by and they’d stop the train. One of them would climb up on the train, and force one of the employees to give him the “gold”. My grandfather was actually one of the volunteers. I remember one time, he got to be the robber that climbed onto the train and he came over me (I was probably like four) and announced that I was his granddaughter (everyone laughed). Looking back on it, I laugh too, but at the time I was super confused.

I also celebrated my first birthday on the train.

The train was such a fun thing, and has given me many memories. However, the train is so old, it constantly needs to be repaired, and it is not always able to run anymore, because they sometimes don’t have enough money to fix it.

I can’t really give you a site to look at Bill Miner, but here is the 2141 website: www.kamrail.com

(To write this, I used online Kamloops Archives.)

Author: Julia


BCHFS Wins Provincial Award! — February 24, 2016

BCHFS Wins Provincial Award!

The BCHFS is honoured to have received the 2016 Outstanding Achievement in Education and Public Awareness Award from Heritage BC. The award was presented at the organization’s 35th annual gala in Vancouver held in conjunction with Heritage Week festivities. The event, which brought together professionals from across the province, celebrated the significant achievements of British Columbia’s “heritage heroes”.

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“The peer review panel of judges recognized that the Heritage Fairs Program in BC has been outstanding as a means of engaging youth in the history and heritage of BC and Canada,” said Kathryn Molloy, Executive Director of Heritage BC. “Through participation in the Fairs program, youth develop citizenship and leadership skills. The Heritage Fairs program builds young citizens and future leaders who understand the relevance of the history and heritage of our Province.”

“Heritage Fairs projects often appeal to students who might not be inspired by schoolwork but are enthusiastic about subjects close to them—like hockey, or a grandparent’s wartime service. These are what they turn into Heritage Fair projects,” noted President Michael Gurney. “The recognition a student receives through presenting his or her project at a School, Regional or Provincial Fair can have a significant positive impact—and change an unfocused student to an active one. Heritage Fairs help set young citizens on a path to becoming leaders.”

Since 1981, Heritage BC has recognized individuals, groups, organizations, government and the private sector for exceptional work in heritage conservation, planning, education and awareness. BCHFS is thrilled to be included in the ranks of such prestigious projects and heritage heroes. Click here to view the press release or visit Heritage BC’s website for more information.

Ancient Graffiti — February 22, 2016

Ancient Graffiti

Before written recordings of history we used bones, rocks and fossils to figure out what the world was like in the past.   Throughout history we have also done beautiful art work, but I feel like people forget where our ancestors first started- pictographs and petroglyphs. The graffiti of the past, as I like to call it; because thousands of years in the future I like to think that the graffiti and so called vandalism we do today will replace and be thought of  as the new pictographs and petroglyphs.

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Photo courtesy of Crysta Links, 2015

There are many pictographs and petroglyphs across Canada with their own traits and details that make it unique to those people that drew them long ago. The ancient paint they would make and use, how they would draw, or with petroglyphs, what they would use to carve. These all are aspects of pictographs and petroglyphs. Of course with all of pictographs and petroglyphs we can find similarilies.  Myths surrounding them that have traveled through these pictographs and petroglyphs for us to talk, theorize and discussed to this day. One of my favorite being Kokopelli. Kokopelli is believed to go all the way back to about 1300 years ago or even earlier. Now Kokopelli is quite the mystery for many reasons and little is known about this pictograph/petroglyph that covers a wide range of Canada and American.

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Photo courtesy of Donald Austin, Sand Carved Designs, 2002

I have learned many theories surrounding Kokopelli and can’t say I know which one is to be most likely- so much is questionable with the theories and myths that people have come up with.  One theory is that he would make the seasons change with his flute playing.  Another theory is that he was a representation of an insect that is common in Utah and New Mexico where this image is quite frequent.   It’s always been the same kind of image, an slightly bent back creature with arms holding a tube shaped object to its face. It’s one of the wonderful part of this character is that I feel like will never know but it’s 2016 and this image is still being talked about!

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Rock faces everywhere are covered in these ancient doodles and drawings. In some places where people had migrated in and out you can see the development, progress and style change as people had gone through and drawn over the hundreds and maybe even thousands of years!  I wonder what people in the future will theorize about our pictographs, peteoglyphs, I mean grafitti.  Look for petroglyphs, pictographs and grafitti in your area.

Author: Anna

Happy Heritage Week! — February 15, 2016

Happy Heritage Week!

Heritage Week is celebrated in communities throughout the province every year.This year the theme of BC’s Heritage Week is Distinctive Destinations: Experience Historic Places. BC Heritage Week traditionally starts on National Heritage Day, the third Monday in February, which is promoted by Heritage Canada– The National Trust.

Both Heritage Canada and Heritage BC have created lists of ideas for activities to help YOU celebrate Heritage Week. On the website, Heritage BC has described 90 ideas ranging from activities for your school, classroom, local heritage site, to even your attic or kitchen. Heritage Canada’s top suggestion for celebrating is to merely take a moment in your day to stop, look around yourself and appreciate the heritage of your community!

Check out some of the other activity suggestions here: Heritage BC & Heritage Canada

How will YOU be celebrating this year’s Heritage Week?!

The Battle that Wasn’t Going to Happen…But Did — February 12, 2016

The Battle that Wasn’t Going to Happen…But Did

From the declaration of war in 1939 until that fateful day in 1943, the second world war had been relatively quiet for the Canadian army. Aside from the disaster that was the defense of Hong Kong in 1941, that left all 2,000 Canadians dead or captured, and the disastrous attack on Dieppe, only 2,000 of the 5,000 Canadian men returned. But aside from that, the Canadian army saw no action. They spent the majority of the war in England training and preparing for a battle many thought wasn’t going to come.

But that day did come, on July 1st 1943 26,000 Canadian were loaded onto transports in England and shipped off to capture Sicily and break the back of the Italians in an operation codenamed “Husky”. As the Allies landed in Sicily they were met with very minimal resistance because the Italians had lost their taste for war. The First day of landings for the Canadians (July 9th) was a success, having taken only 75 casualties. Throughout July Canada and the rest of the allies continued to put pressure on the Axis forces and by the 17th of August the allies had pushed out the Axis, with the Germans taking 15,000 casualties, the Italians taking 139,000 casualties (137,000 of them were prisoners) while the allies only took 19’000 killed and wounded. But the campaign was not entirely a victory, 97,000 Italian and German troops had been evacuated, the Sicilian campaign was over, but the Italian one was just about to begin.

The plan had been decided before the Sicilian campaign had even begun, Italy would be invaded. As the end of the Sicilian campaign dawned it became apparent that an invasion of Italy would come soon after the fall of Sicily, before the Germans could reinforce the Italians with anymore troops. By the middle of July the invasion had been planed down to the finest details and it was decided that the invasion would be on the third of September 1943. The Canadians would land at the town of Reggio Calabria , capture the town and then push forwards into Italy.

There was no resistance that day when the Canadians landed on the Italian beaches. By just after 8AM that day the Canadians were in Reggio, what was left of it, the bombing runs that had been launched since the middle of august had done their jobs well. The landing was a staggering success about three thousand prisoners had been taken with only nine wounded on the Canadian side. The British had met the same measure of success on their landings. The allied liberation of Europe was off to a good start, but the allies had a concern; Where were the Germans? The Canadians and the British continues to push back the members of the European Axis, but on the 8th of September the course of the war changed forever, the Italians had surrendered, but this came as no surprise to the Germans and in response they moved thousands of troops into Italy.

After Reggio the Canadians won many victories, pushing back the German lines, but they were stalled at Ortona. Three Canadian regiments were sent to cross the Moro River, the men were not sure what was waiting for them on the other side but as soon as they had crossed they realized that the German were waiting for them. By the morning all three of the Canadian Regiments were pinned down, but all attempts by the Germans to storm these positions were repulsed, no matter how hard the Germans tried the Canadians were dug in too well and not just that but the Canadian were beginning to push the Germans back. After the Canadians took San Leonardo and Casa Berardi the Canadians moved onto the city of Ortona it would prove to be the hardest battle that the Canadians would fight in the Italian Campaign. After three days (from December 20th to December 23th) the Canadians stopped fighting their way through the streets, instead they developed a technique called “mouse-holing”.  “Mouse-holing” is where the Canadian troops put small explosive devices up against the wall at the top of a building, when the device exploded the Canadians would throw grenades through the hole and enter the adjacent room through the hole in the wall guns firing killing the survivors, clearing the building. Using this technique the Canadians were able to capture the rest of Ortona by the 27th of December. This marked the end of the battle of Ortona, giving the Canadian their Hard-Won Victory.

Author: Jack

Heritage Fairs in 30 Seconds — February 5, 2016
A Short History on the Vancouver Special — February 3, 2016

A Short History on the Vancouver Special

Vancouver is known for many things; rain, hipsters, the Canucks. But, and arguably its greatest, lesser known symbol is the Vancouver Special home. Primarily built for working class immigrant families from 1965-1985 these houses stand as a testament to Vancouver’s constantly changing demographic.

Their unique, arguably ugly architecture is characterized as a box like structure. The house’s signature look includes balconies across the front of the house, brick or stone finishes around the bottom and stucco siding on the top floors. Made to suit the rapidly growing population, they were easily and quickly constructed but typically poorly made.

“Vancouver Specials 01” by Jason V 2005-09-07. Licensed under CC by 2.0 via Commons.

Like the disintegrating stucco ceilings, and peeling laminate floors being quickly replaced with modern fixtures and stone tiles, these houses are being gentrified to serve the younger generation and demographic moving in. Although their trademark qualities are quickly being replaced, they still stand as a symbol of Vancouver’s resilience.


Author: Teagan (Lifetime resident of several Vancouver Specials)