Finmore – a town forgotten

Once the boom in railroad traffic slowed down, many towns like Finmore were abandoned

After the gold rush of the 1880s, many people were left in scattered settlements and to survive, they took up different pursuits, such as trapping and farming.

Farming was the mainstay of about 80 per cent of the people of Canada so it was a natural shift. Waterways were the means of travelling and many areas opened up then along the shores.

The coming of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad through the Yellowhead Pass, in 1906 (now the CNR) created high interest in the land. Later, by a few years, it was the PGE that stimulated growth.

With the GTPR (CNR), section stations and houses were established every eight miles or so and stores and homes developed around them. The GTPR (CNR) followed the Nechako River, west of Prince George and ferries were set up at several sites to serve remote places. The communities were very much alive until later road development sidetracked their existence and they slowly disappeared.

Mike Cotton of Kelowna, recalls his finding Finmore, B.C.

It was in the summer of 1952 and I was part of a crew “upgrading” the main highway between Prince George and Vanderhoof. We rented (or more exactly, the government rented) a cabin at Cluculz Lake. East of the highway there was a gravel road which serviced a small village called Finmore. It was a railway stop from which we filled our large oil tank. From this tank on our truck, we then heated and sprayed oil onto the gravel road surface of the main highway. This oil was mixed with the gravel and then rolled into a type of paved highway. Several trips to Finmore were made each day. My job kept me working such that only once did I make a trip out to see the town of Finmore.

About the only building I can recall in the village was called the Traxler Corner Store. I quickly learned that not only did Harry Traxler own the corner store but also he was quite active in the Finmore Liberal Association. In the store I noticed a small newspaper on the counter by the ice cream section. I learned this was the Finmore News and it was published by none other than Harry Traxler.

I soon scanned the Finmore News and was absolutely enthralled. I knew I would subscribe to this informative paper and I asked Mr. Traxler if I could subscribe. He was most pleased and climbed onto a chair and reached up to a calendar hanging on the wall. He took it down, upside down and on the back of the calendar he added my name and address to a few other subscribers. I surely hope all the other people on that list were as pleased with their paper as I was mine.

The paper ceased publishing after a few issues and few know of its passing.

The settlement was first named Stuart being near the mouth of the Stuart River in 1911. In 1923 the settlement was named after pioneers Finlayson and Moore, as Finmore. A post office was started in 1923 and ran until 1956. The town was large enough in the 1950s to have a store, a paper, a ferry, a school and several homes. A water tank fuelled the steam engines.

Finmore Road connected the ferry site to Highway 16 near Cluculz Lake and this development spelled the end of the many section houses and towns such as Nicol, Bednesti, Chilako, Myworth and Otway.

In writing this it is sad to say goodbye.

The staff at Bulkley-Nechako Regional District hardly knew of the historic spot but did issue 15 house numbers along the road.

An excellent source of information is From Broadaxe to Clay Chinking by June Chamberland, CNC Press 2006. Thanks also to Trelle Morrow of Prince George.

Andy Motherwell is an amateur historian and regular Observer columnist.