The face of Hope is changing. The latest evidence of this, says Patrek Mayers, is the closing of the town’s long-established machine shop and the opening of a craft brewery along the main drag of the Old Hope Princeton Highway.
“I’m actually the last heavy industry to pull out of town, pretty much,” said Mayers, owner of the Hope Machine Shop for 11 years.
“The reality of it is, Hope has changed over the past 20 years. This is not the logging town that it used to be, this is not the industrial town that it used to be. So the reality is, the need for a shop like this, of this size, is no longer needed in Hope.”
When Mayers first started working at the shop as a machinist, there were six logging companies, sawmills, a mine and a mushroom plant in Hope. The buyers of the land and building at 360 Old Hope Princeton Way have plans to establish Hope’s first craft brewery, a new tourism-friendly business far removed from the industries inhabiting the town in its industrial heyday.
A long history in Hope
Mayers, a machinist since he finished high school, bought the shop from Steve Harvey, whose father Ken owned it before him. Harvey knows the history of the shop from 1954, the year his father bought it, but even before then there was a small shop at the 6 Avenue location where Canyon Cable now sits.
“It’ll be missed by a number of people that expect it to always be there,” Harvey said of the news the shop is shutting down. “All the things that drove the machine shop aren’t here anymore. It’s unfortunate, sad.”
Some of the large machines in the shop were built during the Second World War, some of which were still in use up until the shop closed this month. To say the business has history is an understatement.
Harvey grew up there, fashioning mine car wheels for Giant Mascot Mine and later taking over the business from his father in 1981 together with Ernie Greer. Ken Harvey moved the machine shop to where it now sits on Old Hope Princeton Way, snapping up the property for $1,750.
“When my dad started it, it was just a repair business, he just did heavy duty repairs. And then it evolved into manufacturing and we did a lot of sawmill fabrication work. That’s kind of where I came in,” Harvey said.
In his 35 years working at the shop, Harvey never thought to shut it down. When times were lean, such as when the sawmills began shutting their doors, he had to get creative.
This involved bidding for contracts and then figuring out how to actually build the products. Pieces of Boeing 777s have gone through the shop, although what exact part of the airplane they are for Harvey couldn’t recall.
It was interesting work, Harvey said, and he learned it all on the job — welding, fabrication and figuring out how to build new parts.
Ever since he took over the shop from Harvey, Mayers has seen the writing on the wall. Slowly, one by one, his many logging, mining and industrial customers left the business.
Now, he’s relying on one big customer and many smaller jobs which his wife Tracy said has pushed him to become very versatile and look at his business in a different way.
“It slowed down over the years, and then he became, literally, the jack of all trades. He started fixing pretty much everything,” she said. “It’s been a real challenge, but it’s been a real opportunity too.”
Patrek is matter-of-fact about the changing times, but Tracy remains sentimental.
“It was like saying goodbye to an old friend,” she said of the decision to sell and shut the shop, fighting back tears. Most of her children have worked there and she has been there for Patrek through the stresses of running the machine shop.
“You do something for 11 years and then you walk away from it. It’s like ‘Now what? What are we going to do now?’ We have our ideas, we know what we want to do, we have our dreams and hopes. But it is scary, because this is the foundation of us.”
The family is now on their way to the Cariboo to buy land —where exactly they still don’t know. Patrek plans to downsize his business, setting up shop at home and taking on mostly smaller jobs.
“The world changes, you either change with it or you get left behind,” he said.
Out with the old, in with the brew
Seeing where Hope was heading, from a resource-based economy to a tourist town, Mayers loves the idea of a brewery taking the place of the machine shop.
“I think it’s hip, it’s cool, it’s something the town needs,” he said. “The town needs something new. Because everything has gone stagnant in town. I mean, you look up and down Wallace Street and it’s heartbreaking how many businesses are empty, how many businesses are there for six months and then gone.”
While it’s sad to see the shop go, Harvey is interested in how the brewery plans go. One thing he is happy about is seeing a commercial venue take over, as the space along the former highway is no longer fit for heavy industry.
“In some ways it’ll be nice to see it gone from that site. It’ll be sad to see it gone from the town,” he said.
The brewers, Danielle and Adam Keil, are a couple originally from Hope who have been itching to return to the town ever since they had children. The brewery dreams, however, started much earlier than that.
“It’s been a dream of ours probably for a decade now, honestly, but we started really working towards it maybe four years ago. When we had our kids, basically, they motivated us,” said Danielle.
Residents of Port Moody before they pick up and move back home, Danielle and Adam have been inspired by the brewing community in Moody. Adam is a brewer at Moody Ales and is enrolled in Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s brewing program.
They’ve gotten positive feedback from the district about their plans, Danielle said the district has been hoping for a brewery for a while and she hopes residents will get excited about the plans too.
“It will be a craft brewery, so basically you’ll get to come in and get your growlers filled. There will be big, communal tables, hopefully, will be the dream where everyone can come hang out, sit together,” Danielle said. The dreams also include a patio.
The new owners will get busy making changes, first to the outside of the building in October and then moving indoors during the harsh winter months to get the insides of the building ready to brew. Keil said the plan is to open in the fall of 2019.
Some of the old machinery will remain Harvey said—a large crane, a drill press —reminding visitors of the building and the town’s industrial past.
Is there more to this story?