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This page last updated January 29, 2013
© Michael Kluckner
Written in 2004: The Wright and Johnsen cabin on the Tulameen River just downstream from the mouth of Granite Creek. I came upon it in the late1970s when camping on the bank across the river and exploring along the creek. Lois Ridley wrote in 2004 to say that it is the old Paradise Mine Claim cabin that has been in her family for more than 75 years. "I believe that the cabin and shed were already on the property when my great uncle - George Aldus - took over the claim. Uncle George then left the claim to his sister, my Grandmother - Violet Johnsen - and in turn when she passed away it was handed down to her sons -- Johnsen - and daughter -- married name Wright. To this day as a family we still hold the placer and mineral rights to the claim."
The watercolour above is from 1989, the one below from 2001
Interesting area because of the Granite Creek gold rush of 1885, when there were between 400 and 500 Europeans and 150-200 Chinese on the creek. Seven stores, two restaurants, two saloons and a butcher's opened, plus a trail opened up through the Nicola Valley to avoid the tough canyon slog along the Tulameen. Most of the population had disappeared by 1888. There is still constant gold panning and "hydraulicking" going on along the Tulameen, including a couple of people working the sandbar directly in front of this cabin on the day I painted it in 2001.
Photograph by "Nichols," 1954, the cabins gradually subsiding into the landscape like totem poles in the abandoned coastal villages
Diane and Bob Stern, 2013: Below is a “Letter to the
Editor” which has been sent to the local newspapers. We
wanted to send a copy of it to you personally as we thought you
might be interested in it since it pertains to Granite Creek.
Letter to the Editor:
We feel it is time our local government steps in to protect historic sites in this area. As many know, our passion is the local history. For years we have been asking to have the Granite Creek town site (which is on Crown land) protected. We have asked it to be put on the RDOS Heritage Registry. Currently there are no Area H locations on that registry. Recently, when a placer claim inside the town site came available, we decided to stake it. By doing so, no one else can dig on the site. We offered the claim back to the Mineral Titles branch so that they could put a “no staking reserve” on the site. It cost us $104 to stake it, and when we contacted Mineral Titles they had absolutely no interest in protecting the site. It would cost us over $800 to renew our claim and we won’t be doing that. Only a few months remain to protect the town site from future mining activity should someone else decide to stake it.
We have been told that it would be too expensive to add Granite Creek to the RDOS Heritage Registry. We explained that we have maps, photos and documentation of the site and will volunteer our time to assist them. It shouldn’t cost anything. They were adamant that it would be expensive. RDOS recently suggested turning the Granite Creek town site into a park in order to protect it. We thought that was a fantastic idea. Unfortunately, the idea seems to have died as quickly as it was suggested. We are told how important tourism is to the area. Our valley is dripping in history, however, that history is not being protected even if it means tourism dollars.
In the late 1800’s, thousands of pioneers worked dawn to dusk to open up this area that we all call home. They travelled great distances to petition the government for money to build roads and bridges. Once they got that money, they did the back-breaking work themselves. As prospector Judge Thomas Murphy said in his Memoirs in 1930, the Granite Creek prospectors “had generous dispositions which never failed to respond to appeals for assistance or to relieve the distressed and unfortunate. The lives of all these men are closely associated with the early history of this country, on which they have left an impression so deep that future years cannot obliterate it. They are always noted for self-reliance, rugged endurance, and sterling worth.”
Let’s not turn a blind eye to what they did for our valley. Don’t you think it is time our government did something to protect the legacy of these prospectors? Isn’t that the least we can do to honour their memory and thank them for opening up our valley? Perhaps RDOS will listen if more people petition them to protect the Granite Creek town site. We are only two voices, but surely there are others who agree the site should be recognized and protected. If you agree, please send an email or letter to RDOS asking them to add the Granite Creek town site to their Heritage Registry and to turn it into a park to protect it from vandalism and digging. RDOS: 101 Martin Street, Penticton, B.C. V2A 5J9.
Note from Sandra, 2008: Here are more photos of the Granite Creek area.