BC Heritage Fairs Alumni

The Official Heritage Fairs Student Site

Seeking New Alumni Coordinator! — August 18, 2017

Seeking New Alumni Coordinator!

Hello out there, past Alumni, heritage fair fans, and heritage-education enthusiasts!

The BCHFS is seeking an Alumni Coordinator who will be an inspiring leader, an effective administrator, and a proponent of the leadership potential in young people. The Alumni Coordinator is a volunteer position responsible year round for our alumni students’ engagement with the Society. It’s approximately 5-10hours a month, looks great on a resume, and is HIGHLY rewarding! Interested?!

See the posting below and contact Ms. Beaudry at kbeaudry@bcheritagefairs.ca. The position begins in October 2017 and requires a one year commitment.

BCHFS – Alumni Coordinator Position Description



Michel Natal — August 17, 2017

Michel Natal


This photo is of Michel Natal, given to me by my grandfather. As you can see on the top of the picture, he has pointed out where each little town is located.

Michel Natal is a particularly interesting topic, simply because it’s quite unknown. At age nine, I prided myself on the fact that I had a Heritage Fair topic that was different than anyone else’s, and now I’ve decided to remember what I learned (and to research some more) in order to write this blog post.

Michel Natal was a coal mining town that was located near Nelson in British Columbia. To be exact, it was three small towns, but they were so close to each other that it was really only one town.

Though Michel Natal is what it is mostly called, the three towns were Michel, Middletown, and Natal, with Middletown obviously being located in the middle of the other two. Michel was not even a kilometre away from Natal, hence why they were commonly referred to as simply, Michel Natal.

In 1899, when Crow’s Nest Coal Company opened a mine, they established the small town of Michel. Michel had a small population to start off, and consisted of a small hospital and a few houses.

With the success of the mines (there were now three mines around Michel), the population became larger and larger, and in 1907, they established the town of Natal. Until 1910, this town was referred to as “Newtown” or “New Michel”. When Natal was founded, workers from the mines were finally given the chance to own their own property instead of staying in the homes provided for them from the company.

Natal was much more lively than Michel; it had three of the four hotels, an opera house, a cinema, and basketball courts.

Later, the small community of Middletown was established, right in the middle of Michel and Natal. Between Michel and Middletown were different mine buildings. Separating Middletown from Natal was a ball field, the school, and a few churches.

Michel Natal was a popular destination for many immigrants, and this particular town had a lot of Italian immigrants. It was there that my great-grandfather came, there where my grandfather grew up.


This photo given to me by my grandfather. This is my Nono and Nona (my grandfather’s parents), in front of their store (I believe it was located in Natal). Nona ran the store and Nono worked in the mines.

Seeing as it was a coal-mining town, the air was terrible (much like some of us are experiencing from the current forest fires).

As the years went on, the mine suffered from a few different disasters; in 1904, 1916, 1938, and the final straw, in 1967. These disasters were caused by multiple explosions and cost a few lives. Even without the disasters, there was usually a death per year due to the mines. The men went into the mines, not sure if they were ever going to come out again.

In the 1950s, the demand for coal had significantly decreased, so there wasn’t much need for the town of Michel Natal. Plus, tourism had gone up in BC, and unfortunately, Michel Natal was not an appealing sight, with all the houses and outhouses stained from coal dust. In 1964, the government decided it was a disaster for tourism, and had all the residents relocated to the nearby town of Sparwood, but many of them were uneager to leave. It makes sense why they would be so unwilling, as the government paid them terribly for their property; only a little of what they would have sold for. That is why so many people stayed in their homes, but were eventually forced out.

In 1967, a blast killed fifteen miners and injured ten (the largest amount of deaths in the mine). Prior to that, the most that had been killed in a disaster had been thirteen miners, in 1916.

After that tragedy, the government decided that keeping Michel Natal wasn’t worth it. They dealt first with the relocation and the protesting from some of the residents, but by 1978, they tore down every single building, except the Michel Hotel.

The Michel Hotel remained abandoned on the side of the highway, like some kind of marking to show what once was there. In 2010, they tore down the building. Now, the only thing standing is a sign; the only proof that there ever was something in this area.

Photo taken by my parents. This is the sign for Michel Natal (about ten years ago – featuring my brother and myself).


It seems like just another ghost town story, and for the longest time, that’s all it was to me. Until I came to realize that the people who lived there, they’re still alive today. My grandfather grew up there; all his childhood memories are from there.

It’s one thing to move out of your childhood home, but it’s another thing to stand on the side of the highway and remember what once was. To close your eyes and picture everything as if it was still there.

My grandfather still remembers where everything was. He can picture the whole town. Standing on the side of the road, he can point out exactly where he lived as a kid and where their family store was located. It’s somewhat heartbreaking.

I am glad I had the opportunity to learn about this little town. It may be forgotten to most, but it lives on in the pictures, the books that the inhabitants made, and the newspaper articles.




Author: Julia


Should Nazi war criminals still be prosecuted today? — August 2, 2017

Should Nazi war criminals still be prosecuted today?


By: Gita


Through research, I came to find the INTERNATIONAL MILITARY TRIBUNAL OF NUREMBERG, the documents outlining the rulings of the Nuremberg Trials held to prosecute war criminals after WWII.  If the evidence had been available during this time, all war criminals would have been prosecuted during these trials.  However, this was often not the case.  Thus, today we must continue to seek the justice extended by these trials, as the elapsed time is no legal defence for the atrocities committed.  We owe it to all the victims of war crimes to prosecute those responsible for the tremendous suffering they caused.  Moreover, it is imperative to continue to prosecute war criminals to send a universal message to potential perpetrators that crime will never be tolerated or excused, and that with their actions will come severe repercussions.  Exceptions are few and far between, and no get-out-of-jail-free card will be offered simply as a result of old age.  Otherwise, individuals may continue to follow such policies, believing themselves safe from all retribution.  Finally, by continuing to prosecute war criminals, we are bringing these events back into the spectrum of the public eye, reasserting how the appalling crimes of WWII were not the product of extraordinarily cruel individuals, but rather sometimes the ordinary actions of ordinary people.  These war criminals may now be approaching 90 years old, but unlike the 11 million victims who were also confined to a cell for their last breaths, the trials of these war criminals are justified.




“I want to say that it disturbs me deeply that I was part of such a criminal organization. I am ashamed that I saw injustice and never did anything about it, and I apologize for my actions. I am very, very sorry.”  Reinhold Hanning, convicted war criminal of WWII.  Those condemned as war criminals, such as Hanning, were very young and of low rank during WWII, and often had no choice in committing war crimes.  Either resist and be killed, or perform these acts under duress.  Major figures responsible for the atrocities were sentenced in the Nuremberg Trials, thus justice today is nearly obsolete.  To this degree, shouldn’t the townspeople who lived near the Holocaust camps and knew of their existence also be convicted for committing the same crimes of inaction?  Little good will come from attempting to prosecute these individuals, almost equally entitled victims, after the great efforts they sought to move on and start anew.  Now with new identities and unknowing grandchildren, great lengths must be taken today to prove that one is guilty of war crimes, as much hard evidence from WWII has been destroyed, and it is thus often very difficult to prove these war criminals either guilty or innocent.  But these people are no longer of threat to our society; today there are higher priorities, greater perpetrator threats that our tax money should be spent on.  So why dwell and rally for sympathy when Remembrance Day exists?  One thing we have learned is that atrocities are driven by fanatical hatred, not common sense.  “I just want him to hear from me […] what the consequences were of what he did at a young age, and let him reflect on it.” – Irene Weiss, victim of WWII war crime testifying at Hanning’s trial.  It is time, at long last, to remember, lest we forget, and move on.



Where do you stand?