Final resting place

Cariboo historic safe finds new home at Quesnel and District Museum and Archives

Larry Giesbrecht

Through the gracious generosity of the North Cariboo Growers’ Co-op, the CD Hoy safe has found its final resting place with the Quesnel Museum and Archives.

Come in to see the 7000-plus pounds of solid steel that constitutes this monolith – it is truly a beautiful piece of art.

With painted roses on its drawers and curlicued locks inside, you will marvel at the workmanship that went in to its construction.

A true artifact in Cariboo history, the CD Hoy safe brings with it a multitude of memories and historical facts.  The story of the CD Hoy family is written up in the Tribute to the Past, Quesnel and Area 1808-1928 starting on page 144 – truly a story of endurance and personal stamina on the part of CD Hoy.

The CD Hoy safe was the victim of professional safecrackers in October 1937.  To quote the Cariboo Observer’s October 5, 1937 article, The thieves were apparently experts at their business.  They prepared the safe by knocking off the dial and running grooves of soft soap around the door into which they ran their nitro-glycerine.  Horse blankets and Hudson Bay blankets were then piled over the safe and the whole weighted down with sacks of flour.  When the explosive was discharged the outer door was blown off and the inner one so badly bent that the thieves were able to remove the contents easily.  To learn more about this event, read it all by going to look on the right hand side for Observer Newspaper Archives. You’ll see that Felix Hunger and John ‘Shorty’ Nolan were eventually apprehended for the crime – more info on this on that same site.

I was told a parallel story about this safe by a well-known Quesnel fellow. This happened  just after the safe had been blown up by professional safecrackers in 1937.  This young chap and his buddies (who shall remain anonymous) used to dig holes over by the old hospital.  I use the term ‘holes’ loosely because they were about five feet deep and five feet wide, covered in branches and dirt. One night, one of the boys got hold of some explosives and threw them in the hole. Having no idea how powerful the explosives were, they were very surprised when it was an event of some magnitude!  They ran for home as the police cars came roaring down the street, thinking the CD Hoy safe was being blown up again.

I understand he never told that story to any one until I mentioned the safe to him. Do you suppose there is still anyone around that remembers that explosion?

We are still trying to ascertain if this safe is the original CD Hoy safe or if it was replaced with a new one after the robbery.  CD Hoy’s daughter, Lily, is attempting to get the exact details…to follow later.

Make certain you visit the Museum and admire this beautiful piece of history.

Hope to see you as you “pass time” at the Museum.

The Museum Commission and the City of Quesnel would like to take this opportunity to thank North Cariboo Growers Co-op for their generous donation and a huge thank you to Mike and Larry for delivering it!

Next time you are at the new Co-op, take the time to stop and thank them for contributing to the preservation of  Quesnel’s history.

In a future column I’d like to regale you with details from the Minute Book of the North Cariboo Growers’ Co-op. A lot of names you’ll recognize and details of former events of yesteryear in Quesnel.

Horse Sense

A horse can’t pull while kicking.

This fact I’ll merely mention.

And he can’t kick while pulling.

Which is my chief contention.


Let’s imitate the good old horse

And lead a life that’s fitting;

Just pull an honest load, and then

There’ll be no time for kicking.

Honey Affleck is chair of the museum commission and regular Observer contributor.

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