Quesnel Railway history recalled

Railway historian Barrie Sanford lead a dedicated group of train enthusiasts on a tour of old railway grades

Andy Motherwell

Friday night Quesnel City Council Chambers resounded with tales of corruption, graft and greed!  No, we’re not talking 2012, we’re talking 1912 and the construction of British Columbia’s Pacific Great Eastern Railway!

Barry Sanford regaled the audience with stories of how the railroad was finally built; along the way it took down two ruling political parties and made many people rich.  Naturally, the ones who got rich weren’t the ones who actually worked on the railway, but the politicians.  Hence our title, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Sanford was the Heritage speaker and special guest of Quesnel Museum and Archives as we celebrated the “plaquing”(new word) of the BC Rail Station in Quesnel. As you may, or may not, know Quesnel Museum plaques two heritage buildings a year.

The Commission’s decision to present two new plaques a year to heritage homes or sites is based on financial considerations.

If people wish to purchase their own plaque, we would certainly never turn them down! And we would present more than two  a year.

If any one lives in a heritage home and wish to have it plaqued, let us know and bring your cheque book.

Back to the story at hand…people were amazed to hear just where the railway ran around Quesnel (Plywood Hill, for one). A slide show showed just where the ‘grades’ were situated.  The Cottonwood Bridge was one of the biggest challenges construction engineers faced, although the Cariboo gumbo they encountered often impeded any progress they made.

Andy Motherwell was instrumental in making certain this talk and its accompanying walk actually happened.  After the talk on Friday night, the speaker invited questions from the audience and plans were made for Saturday’s walk.

Saturday, under menacing skies, the brave, and/or foolhardy, gathered at the BC Rail station for the plaquing and the cavalcade set off for an afternoon of driving and hiking as they went in search of the ‘grades’ and rails and wheels and…all the remnants of the railroad in and around Quesnel.

Barry Sanford has written several books on the history of the railway in British Columbia.

He was the bus supervisor for School District 28 in Quesnel until his retirement several years ago.  He now pursues his passion for railways and writing.

Be certain to look for another in the Heritage Speaker series as the summer progresses.

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

And remember…Patience is bitter, but its fruits sweet. – J.J. Rousseau

Honey Affleck is chair of the Quesnel and District Museum and Archives museum commission.

Just Posted

Ranch Musings: Bruce Mack, a citizen/leader to be thankful for

David Zirnhelt celebrates the life of his friend, Bruce Mack

Quesnel gymnasts vault to provincial podium standing

Young athletes landed four medals at meets with the best in the province

Country and bluegrass festival returns to Quesnel next week

Seventeen bands will perform in the 22nd annual festival, from April 25-28

Learn more about the possibilities of CoWorking in Quesnel at April 23 meeting

Community Futures North Cariboo has started a CoWorking Takeover Challenge

Letter: Concerned about options considered for caribou recovery

“The exploding wolf population is the cause of the depleting caribou and moose herds,” writes Frank Dorsey

Dashcam captures close call between minivan, taxi at busy Vancouver intersection

To make the footage more nerve-wracking, a pedestrian can be seen standing at the corner

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

VIDEO: Fire guts Peachland home

Crews are still on scene pumping water onto the blaze in the Okanagan neighbourhood

$6K raised in one day’s time for family of woman gunned down in Penticton

GoFundMe launched for family of Darlene Knippelberg, to pay for funeral costs and other expenses

B.C. mountain biker sent home from hospital twice, despite broken vertebrae

Released in Maple Ridge to go home with three fractured vertebrae

Seven tips to travel safely this Easter long weekend

An average of three people are killed, and hundreds more injured, each Easter long weekend in B.C.

Seattle’s 4-20 ‘protestival’ enjoys tolerance, some support – and B.C. could do the same

Seattle’s Hempfest a large-scale occasions with vendors, prominent musical acts and thousands of attendees

Most Read