Each year the Heritage Society of British Columbia designates a theme for the annual B.C. Heritage Week celebration. This year the focus is on “Good Neighbours: Heritage Homes and Neighbourhoods.”
While the first thought brought to mind is that of a stately, ornate older home, we in Hope would be hard pressed to recognize many residential structures that date back to a time before 1900 so how does this theme relate to our area?
Hope is fortunate to have Christ Church Anglican which dates back to 1861 and the Fraser Gold Rush era but there is not much else that dates back to such early times. Why is that?
Hope’s beginning as a Hudson Bay Company fur trade fort and then as a centre of mining, logging and railway construction meant that all of our early settlers intended to stay here for only a short time … just as long as the resources lasted or the construction was completed. They built homes that would suffice for their immediate needs not for generations to follow. If our founding families had come to farm or ranch – such as early families in Agassiz, Chilliwack, Abbottsford or Merritt – Hope would have had some gorgeous large pioneer homes.
Another factor is fire. When everyone relied on wood fires for heat and oil lamps for light, fire became an all too often occurrence. Buildings, even entire neighbourhoods, made entirely of wood burned to the ground with regularity. This is how Hope lost all of the large stately hotels that used to stand along Wallace Street for example.
So how can we recognize the history of Hope in our community then? First look at the names of natural features around us … there are many that herald back to the Halq’eméylem language place names of the Stó:lō First Nations people. These include the Coquihalla River and Kawkawa Lake. The Fraser River was named for the Northwest Company explorer Simon Fraser who passed through in 1808. Ogilvie Peak remembers John Drummond Buchanan Ogilvie who was posted to Fort Hope by the Hudson Bay Company in the 1850’s and reputedly climbed to the top of this mountain to plant a Union Jack flag for Queen Victoria’s birthday in 1859. Other Hudson Bay Company employees are remembered in the names of the Anderson River, Peers Creek, Manson Ridge and McLeod Peak. Bristol Island recalls the contributions of Jeremiah Gilbert “ Billy” Bristol, a colourful character who worked on the river.
Also look to street names in town for clues to our history. Hudson Bay Street and Fort Street relate back to the Hudson Bay Company fort that stood in this section of town starting in 1848. King Street and Queen Street got their names from the Royal Engineers regiment that was sent to British Columbia by the British Crown to assist in the establishment of the new colony. It was these men that laid out the town site of Hope.
Dewdney Street recalls Edgar Dewdney, famous for building the Dewdney Trail from Hope to Wild Horse Creek in the Kootenays, a route that is now known as Highway 3 – The Crowsnest Highway.
Raab Street recalls the contributions of early Hope businessman A.E. Raab, who was also the Chairman of the Village of Hope. Long time Hope families are recognized by Thacker, Corbett, Ryder and Stuart Streets.
Interestingly our main street, Wallace Street, has but an obscure connection to our past. It is believed that a government surveyor gave this name to the roadway in 1859 to pay tribute to D. Peter William Wallace, surgeon-in-chief of the Royal Navy Hospital in Esquimalt from 1857 to 1865 and prior to that a doctor aboard the H.M.S. Satellite, the ship that brought members of the Boundary Commission to British Columbia. This same surveyor likely named Commission Street.
Newer neighbourhoods recall contributions of more recent residents. Gardner Drive is named for the contributions of Keith (a.k.a. Bud) Gardner, long time local businessman and a past Mayor of Hope. The subdivision on Thacker Mountain was developed by Mallard Construction, hence Mallard drive. Another developer by the name of Kereluk established lots at the far side of Kawkawa Lake and Kereluk Road came into being.
An entire area of Silver Creek owes its street names to carpenter/builder Marcel Gagnon who named streets for himself and his children – Marie, Peter and Yvonne.
If you would like to know more about the neighbourhoods of Hope and how they relate to our past, drop by the Hope Visitor Centre & Museum Complex on Saturday, Feb. 23 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Everyone will be able to take home a free copy of the Heritage British Columbia map and to enter a free draw to win a copy of “Here in Hope” by Joan Bridgeman – an excellent book if you wish to learn more about Hope’s past.
Also on Saturday, Feb. 23, take advantage of a rare opportunity to see inside one of Hope’s few remaining heritage homes. The Bears Heritage House Bed & Breakfast at 1075 Third Avenue will have an open house from 2-4 p.m. to show off their 1912 home. The owners, Johanna & Ray Cochrane, have documented how they rescued this important building from demolition and restored it back to its former glory. They can also tell you about the Bear’s family that built this home.
For more information about these BC Heritage Week events in Hope, call The Hope Museum at 604-869-7322.