Through a sequence of abrupt right angle turns from downtown, No. 3 sheds its Canyon Street appellation and picks its way along property lines east out Creston. Passing the Wayside Garden and Arboretum, and fruitstands in numbers to rival those of Keremeos, the Highway slips through the unicorporated community of Ericksonthe wild turkey capital of B.Cpast the orchard-sheltered, swimming-poold Kozy Tent and Trailer Park and, replacing its shoulders with a bike-imperilling narrow strip of semi-compacted sand, plunges into the throat of the Goat River canyon. The woods hedge the Highway as it snakes north-eastward a couple of kilometres over a slight rise and down to Littlejoes Campground nestled in the riverside shade. Here railroad buffs turn right on Canyon-Lister Road and roll down a kilometre or so into the spectacular little gorge to look at the 73 metre long Goat River Bridge, its three black steel spans firmly footed on fortification sized concrete piers and abutments which hold them 165 feet above the frantic Goat. Just downstream near the mouth of the canyon is the site of the generating station that West Kootenay Power built in the early 1930s to harness the Goats wild energy for Creston and area.
The Goat River Canyon Bridge
Come the spring of 1897 the directorship of the CPR had acquired control of a paper railway, the British Columbia Southern, which was provincially enchartered to lay track from the Continental Divide west to Kootenay Lake. As well, that January, the Company had added to its portfolio the existing Medicine Hat to Lethbridge section of the Alberta Railway & Coal Companys line and its federal charter to build westward through the Crowsnest Pass and on to Kootenay Lake. Acquisition of that segment of the AR&C gave CP a railhead at Lethbridge, halfway to the Pass from the Mainline at Medicine Hat. Once some financial assistance had been wheedled from the Dominion government, on July 14th, 1897, CPR officials stabbed the silver spade of commencement into the Prairie sod at Lethbridge and the construction of the Crows Nest Line (CNL) was under way.
With J.J. Hill positioning himself to drive trackage into the metal heart of the Kootenays, CP knew that it was imperative to complete the new line as quickly as possible. Even before the final deal was proclaimed in Parliament on June 29th of 1897, the Company had chosen Hugh Mann and James Kennedy as its main contractors. They, in turn, had let a flurry of sub-contracts for every task from staking the right-of-way to placing the track-side signals. Soon, in dozens of camps scattered along the right-of-way, far from home and family, men of many nations laboured side by side building the new line.
By the time the CPR officially accepted the mandate to build the CNL, most of the route from Lethbridge to Kootenay Lake had already been staked by its surveyors. The Company knew that there were five places which heavy bridge construction would be required; the Bellynow the OldmanRiver valley on the west side of Lethbridge, the Oldman South Forknow Pincher Creekon the Rockies Eastern Slopes, the Elk River, the wide Upper Kootenay River at Wardner and here on Goat River. Long before the rails reached them, long before even the roadbed was graded, crews were at work on the bridge sites.
The Goat River Bridge was the last major project to be completed before the final rails of the CPRs B.C. Southern could be laid through to Kootenay Landing.
It took nearly a year for the R. Balfour Company to construct the Goat Riverformerly CanyonBridge. With the exception of some timber felled and milled locally, all materials; cement, steel rods, bolts, brackets and bridge members came to either Kuskonook or, later, Kootenay Landing, by barge from Nelson. From there the supplies were humped along the right-of-way or the tote road that was being built beside it. Conscious that they were erecting a structure that would serve future generations uncounted, suffering through a killing epidemic, Workers carefully raised the Bridge. In September of 1898 the great track-layer, its cabin and long, shaking spars wreathed in smoke and dust and noise, advanced to the Bridges eastern approach. There it was forced to wait patiently as the bridging crew placed the last of the iron-work and gave each bolt a final reef. On Thursday, September 29th, Balfours engineers declared the Goat River Bridge finished. Six days later the track-layer arrived at the Lake and the B.C. Southern was, essentially, complete. Cost: about $11,000 short of ten million dollars.
At the Bridge, the Highway and Railway brush close and then diverge as the Highway chooses to keep to the Goats right bank while the Railway cuts off into the woods on the Rivers far bank. Alone, the Highway winds on for a few kilometres to Arrow Creek which leads Dewdneys trail south out of the mountains. Leaping the Arrow on a 1963 concrete girder bridge, the Highway finds the trees beginning to retreat from the hardtop as the Gorge widens into an easterly trending valley that leads the Highway and, somewhere out of sight to the south, the Railway tracks, up to the spine of the Purcells. This is an ancient route. In places beneath the pavement the ghost of Dewdneys footsteps lie on a well beaten Ktunaxa pathway. The Highways direct precursor is the tote road that the CPR contractors pushed through the forest in 1897 to deliver supplies to their construction sites. By the 1920s this had been improved to make auto travel possible, if not comfortable, all the way from Medicine Hat to Creston.
Four or five kilometres from the Arrow, just east of the narrow cautionary yellow steel truss bridge which has carried the No. 3 over the hurrying, white-water Goat since 1949, engineers kept the Highway from its optimum alignment to avoid running over a lonely little patch of grass confined behind a green plastic woven wire-like fence. In 1969 it was nearly lost, this little piece of History, for when the Highway was due to be realigned and modernized, it was an overgrown ruin, and only the efforts of the local Knights of Pythias preserved this reminder of the fleeting transience of Life. Its a graveyard, and in it there is a bench.
The Crows Nest Line: Building the B.C. Southern
The late 90s was a fine time to be in the railroad construction business. Money was finally flowing again, and everywhere building projects that had been postponed during the recent recession were going ahead. However, the expectations of a railroad projects owners had changed since the early years of railroad construction. From G.W. Taylors The Railway Contractors one reads that, because they wanted to run heavier trains and spend less on maintenance of way, owners demanded a better product from the contractors. In the case of the Crows Nest Line, the CPR required that the grade not exceed 1%, whereas 2.2% had been allowed on the Mainline fifteen years earlier. The road bed had to be better compacted, the ties of good quality and well ballasted to carry the 73 lb. rail that was used on the line west of the Great Divide. Main bridges had to be of steel rather than timber, and those temporary structures that were of wood were slated to be quickly replaced. As well, by the late 1890s owners held prime contractors responsible for workers medical care, for the distribution of supplies, and for the behaviour of the sub-contractors. To live up to the owners expectations and make money was a challenge.
Attracting labour was a problem for the Crows Nest Lines contractors. Thanks to agitation by Oriental Exclusion League and like-minded organizations, the Dominion government had passed the Alien Labour Act of 1897. This cut off the supply of compliant Chinese labourers who, while working on the CP Mainline in the early 80s, had been willing to suffer savage exploitation just to remain in this golden land. To their chagrin, the construction contractors soon found that the men who came to their camps refused to stoically accept the abuse that had traditionally been the workingmans lot. The dignity of work had awakened in Labour. Not mere beastly bone and muscle, the new workers recognized themselves as the essential force in the completion of a project. Though competition for jobs was tough in the Eastern cities due to the thousands of emigrants who were pouring out of Italy, the Slavic countries, Germany and Britain, in the countryside and on sites remote from the amenities of civilization, workers were in short supply. South-eastern B.C. was remote, and construction of the Crows Nest Line would, at its peak, require upwards of 4,000 men.
Like the men in the other CNL camps, most of R. Balfours workers at the Goat River Bridge had been recruited by employment agents who placed handsome advertisements in Eastern newspapers. The wages looked good and the project appealed to those who had romantic notions about taming a frontier; applicants were abundant. From the river of humanity which poured through their doors, agents acting on behalf of the Contractors hired the likeliest of candidates and offered those they considered trustworthy the price of a ticket to the end of steel or, in the case of the Goat River works, to a steamboat landing on Kootenay Lake near Kuskonook. From there they hiked or, if the tote road wasnt a morass of impassable gumbo and the teamster was amenable, hitched a ride on supply waggons the rest of the way to the job site. In season there were many waggons from which to chose. Along with the construction supplies came camp provisions, all in waggons (or sleds), all cursing the P. Burns and Company cowboys driving the sixty-odd-head herds of cattle along the same road, destined for the stomachs of the constructions crews.
The camp in which the contractors expected their workers to live was, typically, an uncomfortably crude, cramped, contaminated dive. Those men who were part of a mobile crew were usually sheltered in tents, and were required to live under canvas well beyond the limits of whats now called the camping season. Only at bridge sites and large saw mills were permanent camps established. Here the worker slept with up to 60 others typically in low-ceilingd, 24-foot by 40-foot bunkhouses, roughly made out of local timber and heated, if at all, by a single stove in the centre. Contagions such as diphtheria, typhoid and tuberculosis raced from man to man in such conditions. Medical care for which all workers were charged 50¢ per month consisted basically of lying abed in pain until one of the two doctors engaged by the contractors eventually came by on his regular rounds from his headquarters at the St. Eugenes hospital in Cranbrook. Hygiene was considered of little import; latrines were foul and washing facilities crude or, more often, non-existent but for the same cold creek that served as a laundry. Meals were coarse, monotonous and prepared by cooks who knew that their clienteles only option was hunger. In the more remote camps, the delivery of comestible supplies was sporadic, at best. There was no privacy and scant opportunity for recreation beyond drinking rot-gut obtained from camp-followers, fighting, or risking infection in liaisons with whores who were to be found offering their services wherever paid working men congregated.
The moment he set foot in camp, the typical worker hired from the East realized that the terms of his employ had been cruelly misrepresented by the employment agency. The job for which he had signed on was not necessarily the job he was assigned. Writes G.W. Taylor in The Railway Contractors, a skilled worker who understood that he was to practice his trade often found himself handed a shovel or a pick and told to join the bull-work gang. Indeed, a man might even have found that his services had been seconded to another contractor, and be damned if he didnt like it. And what was there to like; a man working for a sub-contractors sub-contractor was that much farther from the font of funds. This made a difference, for in an era of cut-throat capitalism, when a companys profit was all that mattered to shareholders who seldom saw, or cared, how that profit was generated, the project manager could only protect his own job by cutting costs. Holding back scheduled payments to sub-contractors, suppliers and workers was common, the money being invested elsewhere to the benefit of the shareholders dividends. This practice had a trickle-down effect as, one after another, the hierarchy of contractors and sub-contractors were forced to default on their payments. The farther a man was from the top of the heap, the less likely he was to see a pay-cheque.
When he finally got his first cheque, there in black and white was confirmation of what his fellows had been telling him since he arrived in camp. Contrary to the assurances of the employment agent, he was being paid by the day, not the month. Every day missed due to illness, injury, inclement weather or lack of assignment was deducted from his wages and detailed on his pay slips. After February, 1898, when the CPR raised wages across the board on the CNL, the average labourer was paid an attractive $1.75 for each day worked, but was charged 70¢ a day room and board for every day he was in camp, working or not. Before leaving home he should have understood that the CPR would be charging him one cent per mile to get to the CNLs construction head-quarters at Haneyville near Fort Macleod on the east side of the Rockies, but from that point he was to be moved to his camp at company cost.1 That proved untrue and, in fact, he subsequently found that getting from HQ to his worksite was the most expensive part of the whole journey. Hospitalization was an extra that was sold to the ill and injured, and not a few men who should have sought assistance suffered in their cots at 70¢ a day rather than pay the additional costs. Niggling charges rubbed resentment raw with their constant little abrasions. Case in point was the 25-cent-per-month mail fee mail fee, deducted whether or not a man availed himself of that unreliable service. Tools of the trade were often assigned to individuals; lost or broken items were charged against the assignees account and, coming from company stores, were always surcharged. Hopefully the worker had discovered before he left home that he was expected to equip himself with both sleeping and working gear; blankets, boots, over-alls, gloves. If, through poverty or ignorance, he neglected to bring an adequate kit, extra supplies could be purchased from the company, but handling and warehousing charges added significantly to their costs. Even the government of B.C. took a bite out of the working man: a three dollar annual poll tax just for breathing the air, it seemed. Often, a workers pay envelope contained a debit slip against future earnings rather than a credit note. When all was said and done and a man was back home totalling up his overall gain from his stint on the CNL, many found that the experience had cost them money.
As a group, French-Canadians were particularly prone to exploitation. Most were hired as axmen to clear brush and fell timber. Only one in ten, records Diana Wilson in her Railroad Through the Crowsnest (Triumph and Tragedy in the Crowsnest Pass, ed. Diana Wilson, Heritage House Publishing, Surrey, BC, 2005), were able to read enough English to understand the contract that they were signing in the recruiters office Down East. When they were handed picks and shovels and set to toil at alien tasks in the abominable conditions that pertained, many refused, were arrested and gaoled by the North-West Mounted Police, whos jurisdiction had been extended in November of 1897 on an ad hoc basis by the government of BC to keep order on the BC portion of the CNL. When released, many of the Québéois lit out for home on harrowing journeys that killed some.
Because conditions in the camps were so brutal, among the Foremen in charge was an enforcer whose job it was to protect the professional personnel and insure that instructions were carried out promptly. Men who complained, or even looked like they might, found their employ quickly terminated and their butts slung out into the forest where, on their own, they had to make their way back to civilization, often denied the privilege of buying a meal or shelter at other camps as they trudged along. Those in camps closer to transportation were reminded that they had signed binding contracts and were threatened with prosecution under the Master and Servants Law for desertion should they bolt. These measures were enough to keep most suffering in silence, but one small band of workers were not intimidated.
The federal Department of Immigration had sent a group of idled Welsh agricultural labourers to CP to keep them working until employment in their field was available. Outraged, according to J.A. Eagle in The Canadian Pacific Railway and the Development of Western Canada, 18961914, by the plight of the labourers on the B.C. Southern, when these men made their was back East they raised such a hue and cry in the opposition newspapers that the deputy Minister of the Interior, Jas. Smart, warned the prime minister, Wilfrid Laurier, that Canadas reputation abroad would be compromised. Even Van Horne and CPs vice president, Thos. Shaughnessy, admitted that the Company was embarrassed by the furore. At the insistence of the Winnipeg Trades and Labour Council, a Royal Commission consisting of Mr. Justice C.A. Dugas, Frank Pedley, and the president of the Council, John Appleton, was appointed on January 15th, 1898, by the Minister of the Interior, Clifford Sifton, to investigate the situation and recommend changes. By the time the Commission had heard all the complaints, interviewed as many of the scores of contractors and sub-contractors as it could corner, and tabled its report on April 30th, the CNL was nearly finished. With a few tsk-tsks and obvious recommendations such as posted wage scales and list of deductions, government regulation of recruiters, physical fitness assessment of prospective employees, travel allowances, and the ethical treatment of workers,2 the Commission dissolved, the members collected their honorariums and dropped round to head offices in Toronto and Montréal for whiskeys and cigars and a chuckle over the audacity of the contractor who charged his own isolated employees a fee for cashing their pay-cheques.
According to Sylvia L. Thrup in her 1929 masters thesis for the University of British Columbias Department of History, A History of the Cranbrook District in East Kootenay, a second investigation into conditions in CNL construction camps was headed by Roger C. Clute. Among his recommendations were a vast improvement in health services and living conditions, enforced by a schedule of inspections.
In all fairness, it must be noted that not all employers were scoundrels, nor were all workers paragons of integrity. Some guys, upon being hired by the employment agent, sold their contract for cash, perhaps to someone already rejected by the agent as unfit. Others rode out West on the ticket that had been advanced to them against their future earnings, and got off somewhere along the way to pursue attractive opportunities. Others checked into camp, drew their blankets and supplies and set off for greener pastures.3 As noted in numerous newspaper articles at the time, conditions in the camps were crude, but not unbearably so, and no experienced railroad worker expected much more in the depths of winter on isolated construction sites. Those that complained, opined several journalists, were merely whiners unused to manly work.
As it was, even in the best of the camps, it was rare that a man would work an entire season. The abuse and the living conditions, when weighed against the actual pocketed pay, convinced many men to move on, perhaps to another camp, perhaps to another locale. This resulted in a chronic shortage of Labour on railway projects right into W.W.I, a state bitterly lamented by the employers. Why they did not hit upon the simple expedient of increasing wages was due, surmise some authors, to moneyed classs slowness in apprehending the change in the Workers self image: no longer a mute brute, Labour was straightening its back, raising its head in pride of accomplishment and demanding a place in the sun.
Sitting in this little cemetery, one is reminded that heavy construction work is ever dangerous, and not all Workers on the CNL made it back home. Ill-timed explosions blasted debris deep into flesh, powerful machines caught clothing, heavy tools and materials crushed bones. Most insidious of all, though, was disease.
The main Goat River Bridge camp was located down by the project site and was typical of the era with its poor sanitation, its poor nutrition and unhealthy accommodations. In February of 1898 came typhoid fever. In the fetid, cramped conditions of the Camp, the contagion spread like wild-fire, and to distance the victims from the still healthy, a little log-built infirmary was raised some distance from the Camp. With naught but basic medicines, Dr. Frank W. Green, senior, and his associate, Dr. J.H. King, travelled frequently from their base hospital in Cranbrook to try to save lives. Green himself seems to have remembered burying 90-odd, but, huddled together amid fifteen later interments in this, the sick-house graveyard, are the bones of the seven-only known victims of the epidemic. The sick-house itself, deemed an eye-sore, was destroyed in 1949.
For reasons known only to Nature, five kilometres onward from the old graveyard the Goats valley suddenly bolts northward to look for its rivers headwaters deep in the Purcells. Along the ridge separating the Goat from the valley of the Arrow, Charles Plummer Hill, the American agent at the nearby Boundary crossing of Porthill/Rykerts, had in the early 90s noted stains on the rock indicating the presence of hæmatite iron. Hill, who would soon found the town of Hillcrest by his coal mine on the Alberta side of the Crowsnest Pass, by 1899 had accumulated 20 of these claims. Development work indicated that the properties had potential and in that year of 1899, busy elsewhere, Hill bonded them to the London and British Columbia Gold Fields Company, Limited, which hoped that the iron indicated copper. London and B.C. concentrated its efforts on the Cracker Jack but no copper was found and the 1901 edition of the Annual Report of the Minister of Mines notes that Hill bought (back?) the claims that April. The prospect of iron lying close to his Southern Mainline attracted the notice of the CPRs president, T.G. Shaughnessy, and he and several other Company men allied themselves with Hill in further investigations of the properties, thenceforth known as the CPR group. Their interests soon waned. Leaving the Goat River behind, the Highway continues straight on to Kitchener (683m). On the western edge of this unincorporated settlement No. 3 branches Kitchener Road off to the right to carry the original Highway through the scattered hamlet. The Road is a pleasant little two kilometre long detour, leaping little Russell Creek in the middle of the small community on a plain concrete 1947 bridge. Established as a logging camp soon after the Railway boomed through the valley in 1898, the settlement was originally named Kitchener after the British military hero of the day. In the depths of World War One in 1916, the citizens of a burg in Ontario called Berlin decided that the name of their city was down-right unpatriotic and appropriated Kitcheners. The Eastern-based CPR supported the change, but was then faced with the confusion of having two Kitcheners on its time-tables. To rectify that situation, the Railway renamed B.C.s Kitchener Cadona after the Italian general who was at the time enjoying much publicized successes in the Tyrol against the Austrians. In 1917, however, the General was forced into ignominious retreat and CP forthwith dropped Cadona in favour of McConnel. Presumptuously, the Railway expected that the community would meekly accept the name changes. It didnt, and the CPR be damned. Bruce Ramsay in Ghost Towns of British Columbia (Mitchell Press Ltd., Vancouver, 1963), writes that by that time the settlements two mills were cutting nearly 200,000 feet per day, the three hotels were packed and slinging beer and there was enough business to keep two general stores busy. That was Kitcheners peak, about 1922. Soon after the trees gave out, the mills closed in 1926 and 1930, and folks moved on. On the eastern outskirts of Kitchener, where Kitchener Road rejoins the Highway on the far side of the little 1969 concrete-decked bridge that carries the Highway over Meadow Creek, the large, open fields to the south mark the site of one of Kitcheners vanished sawmills. A make work project funded by the federal Department of Transport built an airfield upon it during the 30s, part of the Trans-Canada Airway. It appears that its main occupation now is hosting livestock. Farther east, past the Maranatha Christian Family Resort, the Highway settles into the wide valley of the south-eastward trending Kitchener Creek, bridges Kid Creek on a twin of the Meadow Creek span and begins to seek the crest of the Purcells. Called the Goatfell Hill by railroaders on the south side of the valley who pushed the B.C. Southerns rails over this height of land on September 14th, 1898, cyclists and truckers find that its a three or four kilometre long haul up a persistent four or five percent grade. Notes
In 1901 a Montreal syndicate purchased 15 properties closer to Kitchener and hired William Blakemore away from the Crows Nest Pass Coal Company to manage the development of the claims. Investigations estimated that pig iron could be produced for $10 per ton. It never was.
Come 1921 the British Columbia Iron Company had purchased the Great War group of properties which surround the old graveyard and the Highways bridge over the Goat. As the Groups name indicates, its owners were hopeful that W.W.I would have lasted long enough for them to develop their properties and profitably contribute to the war effort. Interest died in the 20s.
Goat River arises on White Grouse Mountain, perhaps 40 kilometres north of the iron shows, smack in the middle of the Purcells. The Mountain is so remote that even today only the most dedicated back woods hikers see the area, yet, in early 1890s, some rugged old prospector located a find of grey copper ore that excited interest. By 1893 the Mountain was staked with claims, the most hopeful appearing to be the Copper King group. Selected ores from the Group had been assayed and proved to be 15% copper running to 60 ounces of silver to the ton with ten dollars worth of gold as an added attraction. These findings inspired talk of a packtrail which could be threaded up the Goats valley from Kootenay Lake and its steamboat connections to Nelson. Among the 30-odd claims registered in the area by 1895 was the
What there is to Kitchener today pivots upon a post office in one of the old stores is the centre of town; nearby, a derelict service station. Spread out amid the Lodgepole pines west and east along the Road are acreages occupied by pony-sheds fenced off from gardens and modest bungalows whose eaves shelter a winters supply of cordwood. Shiny sports-utility vehicles, accumulating most of their miles commuting to Creston, pose on gravelled driveways and keep their distance from the seriously scruffy looking old Power Wagon, Scout or beat-up Bronco camped on its island of unmown grass until its time to go huntin again.
Travellers opting to stay on the No. 3 are treated to a view of the back side of Kitchener through a thin screen of pines as they top the trough of the Goat. On the north side of the Highway is Yvettes store-restaurant, the settlements only café. With its large, native gravel parking lot and friendly staff, it entices truckers to pull in for a cuppa joe n pie or a burger.
The Goatfell Pass
Nestled amid the gentle swales in the saddle of this low summit is the Goatfell Wildlife Museum, a private operation founded by a couple of nature-lovers on a room full of dead animals. This sounds like a contradiction, but most of the glassy eyed varmints on display were the victims of accidents or government-condoned slayings. The taxidermy is well done, the owners extremely knowledgeable about local wildlife and history, and the pheasant zoo out back is unique, to say the least.
Away from the Museum and Kid Creek, the Highway humps along overlooking the black-water beaver ponds that swell Hazel Creek. This is the spine of the Moyie Range of the Purcell Mountains, which, at 1,400 million years of age, look to have seen better days. Awesome ramparts they are not; they are mere mounds masquerading as mountains. Even the trees have scant respect for these pretentious argillaceous quartzite bumps and blanket them from toe to top except where, of course, the snow pack has come to the defence of a peaks pride and lent it character by brushing a scar down its face with an avalanche.
The crest of the 900 metre high Goatfell Pass is not really that evident, and about thirty kilometres from Creston the Highway finds itself falling, having crossed from the West to the East Kootenays. Gathering speed, cyclists coast down into the crowding conifers of the Moyie River valley. Over passing the Railway on a curved concrete span dated to 1959, the Highway zips downgrade, plunges beneath a tight, white-painted overpass carrying CPs spur line to Kingsgate, and bump onto the deck of the chrome-yellow steel truss bridge which has carried the Highway over the hurried, America-bound Moyie since 1955.
Leaving the Goat River behind, the Highway continues straight on to Kitchener (683m). On the western edge of this unincorporated settlement No. 3 branches Kitchener Road off to the right to carry the original Highway through the scattered hamlet. The Road is a pleasant little two kilometre long detour, leaping little Russell Creek in the middle of the small community on a plain concrete 1947 bridge. Established as a logging camp soon after the Railway boomed through the valley in 1898, the settlement was originally named Kitchener after the British military hero of the day. In the depths of World War One in 1916, the citizens of a burg in Ontario called Berlin decided that the name of their city was down-right unpatriotic and appropriated Kitcheners. The Eastern-based CPR supported the change, but was then faced with the confusion of having two Kitcheners on its time-tables. To rectify that situation, the Railway renamed B.C.s Kitchener Cadona after the Italian general who was at the time enjoying much publicized successes in the Tyrol against the Austrians. In 1917, however, the General was forced into ignominious retreat and CP forthwith dropped Cadona in favour of McConnel. Presumptuously, the Railway expected that the community would meekly accept the name changes. It didnt, and the CPR be damned. Bruce Ramsay in Ghost Towns of British Columbia (Mitchell Press Ltd., Vancouver, 1963), writes that by that time the settlements two mills were cutting nearly 200,000 feet per day, the three hotels were packed and slinging beer and there was enough business to keep two general stores busy. That was Kitcheners peak, about 1922. Soon after the trees gave out, the mills closed in 1926 and 1930, and folks moved on.
On the eastern outskirts of Kitchener, where Kitchener Road rejoins the Highway on the far side of the little 1969 concrete-decked bridge that carries the Highway over Meadow Creek, the large, open fields to the south mark the site of one of Kitcheners vanished sawmills. A make work project funded by the federal Department of Transport built an airfield upon it during the 30s, part of the Trans-Canada Airway. It appears that its main occupation now is hosting livestock. Farther east, past the Maranatha Christian Family Resort, the Highway settles into the wide valley of the south-eastward trending Kitchener Creek, bridges Kid Creek on a twin of the Meadow Creek span and begins to seek the crest of the Purcells. Called the Goatfell Hill by railroaders on the south side of the valley who pushed the B.C. Southerns rails over this height of land on September 14th, 1898, cyclists and truckers find that its a three or four kilometre long haul up a persistent four or five percent grade.