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This page last updated April 5, 2010
© Michael Kluckner
View from behind the Harry Lee House looking toward the CPR mainline (i.e. more or less west)
[Written 2005] Reputedly the oldest building in North Bend, the house occupied by Harry Lee until his recent death at age 102 stands on 1st Street on the opposite side of the CPR mainline from the site of the CPR hotel (see the map on the Highline Houses page). It is now owned by Ernie Clelland, who lives in a 1906 house on 2nd Street just behind this one. He rents it to Syd Strange; both of them are very proud of the house's pedigree, and are doing the minimum possible alterations to keep the house going. Thanks to them for allowing me to sketch the floor plan below.
It is a classic little 1-1/2 storey house that may have been a CPR design – all the land on the river side of the tracks was and is owned by the CPR and leased to the occupants, who own their buildings. The original occupant is unknown. Harry Lee, who lived in the house for as long as anyone can remember, is the son of pioneers at Keefers – upstream on the same side of the river, where there are still areas called Upper Lee and Lower Lee, although all the historic buildings are apparently demolished. His father, an Englishman, was a farmer who supplied milk to the railway. The house retains Lee's personality – for example, the metal cooler (vented to the outside like a meat safe) is plastered with old Irish Sweepstakes tickets.
Harry Lee, legendary locomotive engineer, at his 100th birthday party, North Bend, 2002. Photo by Ernie Clelland
As luck would have it, I painted the Harry Lee House (on the right) in 1992, on a scorching day just before a thunderstorm, and included it in British Columbia in Watercolour. The house is less visible now due to the growth of the trees, and the picket fences, their pointed tops standing above the dry grasses, have disappeared. I don't yet know anything about the green house on the left, which is still in good condition.
Note from Arlana Nickel, 2006: I found some information for you about the "green" house to the right of the Harry Lee home that you painted in 1992. The lady whose family lived there resides in Kamloops. Her name is Mable Grant. She is 89 years old and was the first** May Queen of North Bend at age 12 1/2 in 1927, the same year her mother died and just after the CPR Hotel burned to the ground (which was rebuilt in 1929). Mable Grant was born in that North Bend home in 1914. Mrs. Dykens (sp.) was the midwife. Her father, Walter SMITH, born in Birmingham, was a machinist in the CPR shops in North Bend. Her mother was Emily Jane RICHMOND, born in Bristol. Walter and Emily, along with 9 year old Leonard and 3 year old Florence came from England to North Bend in 1910. It remained the SMITH home until not long before Walter died in 1965.
[**Pearl Snowden, born in 1914 and now living in Kamloops, appears to have been the first May Queen, in 1919]
Note from Terry Fisher, 2007: I AM 1ST SON OF CLIFF AND IRENE FISHER WHO ARE RETIRED AND STILL LIVING IN NORTH BEND. MY FATHER WAS BORN THERE IN THE LAST HOUSE TO THE EAST END OF THE ROW OF LOTS NEXT TO THE RIVER, THE TENNIS COURTS WERE ACROSS THE STREET (NOW 3RD AVE) AND THE BALL DIAMOND/MAYDAY GROUNDS WERE JUST TO THE EAST) AND HAS LIVED THERE FOR HIS ENTIRE LIFE. I RECOGNIZE A LOT OF THE NAMES AND NEW QUIET A FEW AS A KID GROWING UP THERE IN THE 60'S AND 70'S. MY DAD AND MOM ARE A WEALTH OF INFO, MY YOUNGER BROTHER BRIAN STILL RESIDES THERE AND HAS RE-DISCOVERED A LOT OF THE OLD PACK TRAILS THROUGH THE CANYON, MY YOUNGEST BROTHER TODD DID A NICE ARTICLE IN HIGH SCHOOL ON HARRY LEE (UNCLE HARRY, RELATED THROUGH MARRAGE TO MY MOTHER'S BROTHER).