The Cherryville & Area Historical Society is Formed and a Museum is Built
A speech by Society President, Ernie Laviolette, 2000
"The Cherryville & Area Historical Society was formed in 1994 when we were celebrating the 75th anniversary of the naming of Cherryville. At the time, there were a lot of inquiries about our past and Marg Myers and Joy Vaillancourt thought they would like to put together a book commemorating our pioneers and early years. They called a meeting of all who might be interested and five or six of us turned out. As a result of that meeting, the society was formed and a book was published. The profits from the book came to something like $2,000, giving us a little money to finance other projects. In time, we became a registered society under the B.C. Societies Act.
New members were signed up and, I think, today there are between 25 and 30 members. It wasn't long before we felt the need for a "home" of our own and the idea of building a museum sometime in the future came up. One of the problems that concerned us was where to put it. It was felt that a museum built near the community hall, or in the park, would soon be vadalised, and that it would be impossible to police it. We approached Jim Ritchie, the owner of the Gold Panner Café and Campground at the time, and inquired if he would be interested in having it built there. He immediately warmed to the idea.
The Gold Panner Campground seemed an ideal spot, as our very earliest beginnings go back to that location. In 1863 there was a small community consisting of two houses and one cabin on a claim belonging to two partners, Pion and Louis. By 1895 the location had grown into a small mining camp located deep within the canyon walls of Cherry Creek. I'm sure any of you who are familiar with the area will agree with our decision to locate there.
When The Ritchies sold the Gold Panner, several years later, we were at first a bot concerned, but we soon found that the new owners, Judy & Roy Kezema, were equally enthusiastic and have been valued supporters of the Society and the museum ever since.
Our next, perhaps biggest concern, was finances. We held a Film Show and a Dinner Theatre Night to raise a little money. The Dinner Theatre Night realized a profit of approxiamately $1,800. It also accomplished something else that is perhaps just as important.
Joan Crebo wrote a sort of musical play based on historical happenings in our community. The hall was packed to capacity and the evening was well received. Everyone had a great time, but they also came away with a feeling that they had experienced a part of our history. I think it was the first time many of us realized we had a colourful history, and that it was well worth researching and recording.
But a museum a home of our own still seemed in the somewhat distant future. We thought of erecting a small sort of rustic cabin as a temporary solution, where we could meet and collect artifacts, but I felt we should consider building out of logs it seemed more appropriate. However, it was the consensus of the meeting that a log structure would be too expensive.
Some time later, I approached Dave Schneider of White Valley Log Homes and asked him how expensive it would be to have a building constructed out of logs. Dave liked the idea and promised to help. He felt we should build a larger building than we had planned, and suggested 20 x 30 feet. Such a structure, he estimated, would cost about $24,000. However, after consulting his partners and their employees for donations of time and labour, it was felt that they could put up the structure for about half of that amount. They even found some slightly substandard logs that they would donate. Early last Fall there was a few weeks when the builders were idle and Dave urged us to let them begin, but we had no idea where we could raise the cash. We had applied for a Millennium Grant for the amount of $15,000, but there was, and still is, no guarantee that such a grant will be forthcoming. He urged us to proceed with it anyway, saying that they weren't in any hurry to get paid. We could raise the money somehow over the next five years, or so. We agreed and a few weeks later the log structure was finished!
Suddenly, it seemed, the whole community was behind us. The Cherry Ridge Management Committee donated $1,000 and have invited us to apply for more. A logging company offered trucking service, when we move the building in Spring. A backhoe operator offered to do any digging or landscaping needed. Emcon Services brought in seven or eight loads of gravel and a grader and prepared the site for us, and individuals have promised to donate time and labour when it is needed.
More than 75 individuals, businesses, and societies have made donations to our Friends of the Museum Fund. For a donation of $50.00 or more, they have their names placed on our Friends of the Museum plaque, which will go on permanent display. I am pleased to note that your organisation's name is already on that plaque, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you.
In November of last year, we printed 300 Year 2000 souvenir calendars and sold them at $9.00 each. We still have a few to sell, but the project has realized a modest profit.
I would like to mention one other function of our Society, as I feel it too will be of interest to you, and that is, Heritage. We have been instrumental in persuading the North Okanagan Regional District to take on the function of heritage concerns. There are a few cabins, homes, barns, etc. that we would like to see preserved. We are presently in the process of declaring the area of Cherry Creek, from the end of Campbell Road to the mouth of Falls Creek, and in particular, the Chinese Digging as a Heritage Site, to be protected for all time.
And so we enter a new century. Just how soon we can have the museum moved, completed and operating is not clear, but we are hoping it will be within the millennium year.
Now we know that our small organization cannot accomplish all these things alone, but it is our hope that we can create an environment that will encourage the participation and research that is so vital in the recording of our history, both past and present. We need your participation. Perhaps someone is interested in researching mining in our area, or perhaps your organization could contribute a mining display in the new museum. It would be most welcome.
The History of Cherryville
In the early 1860s, the areas first pioneers settled on the banks of Cherry Creek (now known as Monashee Creek), located in a narrow draw in the valley. It was a budding and as yet, unnamed settlement, consisting of two houses and another building being constructed.
In 1865, Cherry Creek made news when it was reported that the Cherry Creek Gold and Silver Mining Company had discovered a rich gold and silver quartz lead on the creek. Unfortunately, this claim was never proven and a brush fire destroyed the Cherry Creek Company's cabins and mine workings. By 1876, placer gold was reported in quantity on Cherry Creek by both white and Chinese miners. .That year 20 men were reported working on Cherry Creek. Yields were $4-$5 a day. Although this gold was fine, some nuggets were found, one weighing 8.5 ounces. The placer gold from this creek is unusually high in silver with the fineness running around .720 fine.
With more miners heading into the Cherry Creek area, a route from Lumby was built by the British Columbia Department of Public Works in the summer of 1877. At that time the road was a mere eight feet wide track. With this new road, families began to arrive in the area.
Between 1863 and 1895, the original area grew into a small mining camp boasting a population of more than 100 people, half of which were Chinese miners.
From 1863 to 1930 numerous mining companies operated in the area. It had been calculated that over $125,000 worth of gold had been extracted from Cherry Creek. This figure was calculated when gold was selling at $7.50 an ounce. By today's prices, that would be approximately $112,000,000.
All communities in the 1900s were known by their post office name. The first known post office in the area was the Jackman postal outlet, this area consisted of the area around Highway 6 and Hollingsworth Road. The Jackman Post Office ran from September 1900 to January 4, 1905, before changing its name to Hilton and operating until June 20, 1918. Postmasters included Nicholas Jackman, Avery Hiltz, William Hollingsworth, Frank Schiffer, and W.F. Darrow. Also, at this time the Camagna Post Office was operated by Ed Camagna from November 1, 1909 to April 15, 1915. This postal outlet was located near the junction of Highway 6 and North Fork Road.
In 1919, the name of Cherryville was finally christened when the Cherryville Post Office was opened with Olava Hanson as Postmistress. Mrs. Hanson had been asked by postal officials to submit a name for the post office and Cherryville was selected from Cherry Creek, Cherryville and Cherryvale. It is believed the name Cherryville came from the wild chokeberries that grew along the banks of Cherry Creek as there were no cherry trees in the area. The Cherryville Post Office remained in operation until April 30, 1947.
In the early 1900s the settlement of Richlands was established and was located on what is now Creighton Valley Road between Hammond and Burnyeat Roads. The area enticed wealthy English and American immigrants with assurances of mild climate suitable to grow orchards. The land was subdivided into 10 acre parcels with an irrigation system to be added later.
The Richlands irrigation system was an intricate system of ditches, flumes and trestles that lead from Heckman Creek along the mountainside above the valley before being gravity feed to the Richlands valley below. Construction on the irrigation ditches began in 1910, with Frank Eurit as foreman. Work proceeded on these ditches for a few years and in 1913 it was reported that pipe was being laid. In February of 1914, 100 000 ft of lumber was hauled from Eight Mile Creek into Richlands for the building of the flume system. Unfortunately, the system had to be shut down many times due to freezing and other problems.
The area grew quickly with money from England. The settlement had a general store, post office, livery stable, butcher shop and blacksmith shop. Unfortunately the weather was not suitable for orchards and the community dwindled when the first World War began and money from England ceased.
Construction on the Richlands store began in November 1910. The following March, W.F. Darrow went to Vancouver to purchase goods for the store. The goods were brought to Vernon by road and train and then to Richlands by wagon. W.F. Darrow opened his new store and post office in April of 1911. The store also included a jewelry shop.
During the First World War an internment camp was situated near the summit of the Monashee Pass. The German detainees, who were housed here through the summer months, improved the road through the pass from Cherryville to Edgewood.
The first school to be built in the area was Hilton in 1909. It was established along present day North Fork Road. The second school was Richlands; it opened its doors to students of that area in 1910. The school at Sugar Lake was in operation for ten years, from 1923 to 1933. The first Medora Creek School (along Sugar Lake Road) had classes from 1924 to 1936.
These early one room schools did not have power or running water. Heat was provided by a wood burning stove. The parents in the area supplied the wood and the older boys had the responsibility of bringing it into the classroom. Water for drinking and hand washing came from a bucket at the rear of the room. The light source was natural light coming in through the windows. The washrooms (outhouses) were located behind the school.
Various households provided room and board for the teachers. The parents were also responsible for the major cleaning of the school and the repairs to the building.
The schools had to close their doors to students when enrolment was too low and also when teachers were not available. Hilton closed for five years from 1929 to 1934 and Richlands was closed from 1919 to 1936. Medora Creek reopened in 1947 after it was closed in 1936.
In 1948 a new one-room school was built at the Hilton site and the name changed to Cherryville Superior School. The building cost approximately $18,000 and had a school population of 22. Then in 1950 another classroom was added in preparation for the amalgamation of the three area schools (Medora Creek, Richlands, and Hilton). The new two-room school opened its doors in 1951 and later became known as Cherryville School. All students were bussed to this new school. There were classes from Grade 1 through to Grade 10. Older students took correspondence courses or boarded in Vernon to attend school. Power and running water were not available in the building and heat came from a wood stove in each classroom. Bathroom facilities were behind the school.
As of 2012, Cherryville remains unincorporated and has a population of 938 people. Cherryville has two general stores, both carrying gas, propane and liquor. It also has a museum, community hall and park, golf course, three cafes, library, artisans' shop, art gallery, log home building businesses, farms, campgrounds, fishing resort, two B 'n' Bs, two churches and a vast number of volunteer-run community organizations, including the Cherryville & Area Historical Society. It also boasts some of the most beautiful scenery in B.C.
Cherryville & Area
Frank & Ruth Vosper, Frank's General Store 1952
A post office used to be run out of the old
Hanson residence, now the residence of
Dawn & Normand Lauze & family.
(Photo from government archives.)
Historical Society Members 2002
New Book ...
A Century of Life in Cherryville, 1860-1960
The cost of each book is $40.00. For shipping please forward cheque or money order made out to 'Cherryville and Area Historical Society'
to Marg Myers at 2-124 Sarsons Road, Vernon, BC, V1B 2T9.
NOTE: For shipping in Canada please add $8.00 for the first book and $1.00 for each additional book.
For shipping to the United States please add $13.50 for the first book and $2.50 for each additional book.
For any questions please contact Lawrna Myers at e-mail or Marg Myers at (250) 542-7882.
Calendars & books
Click here for more info. President: Ernie Laviolette (250) 547 6344 Mailing address: 425 Highway 6, Cherryville, B.C. V0E 2G3
Products for Sale
For all books and calendars please contact:
Cherryville - Joy Vaillancourt at 547-6441;
Lumby - Adeline LeBlanc at 547-9370;
And the Cherryville Museum.
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All rights reserved.