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This page last updated October 8, 2013

© Michael Kluckner

Comments and historic pictures of motoring through the Fraser Canyon are included in the Alexandra Bridge page. See also the Alexandra Lodge page. This page now includes everything about Spuzzum, including the extensive correspondence that begins below.

Sketched/written in 2002: The best remaining building in Spuzzum, now used as a private dwelling, was built as an inn or roadhouse and for many years was the hotel for Spuzzum. It stood across the street from the Spuzzum railway station – the "street" being the Cariboo Road, reopened in 1926 for vehicle traffic as part of the Trans Canada highway. Thus it was assured of a steady clientel. According to its cornerstone, it was built in 1923, probably in anticipation of the new highway (thanks to Joe Butler, current owner, for the information about the date). With its hipped roof and groupings of windows, it bears a strong resemblance to a cafe on the southern outskirts of Boston Bar – perhaps it was built at the same time by the same builder for, effectively, the same purpose. Cariboo Hotels Ltd. began work on a new Alexandra Lodge a few years later.

In the late 1940s, it was occupied entirely by Japanese-Canadians starting new lives following the end of their internment during the Second World War.

Charlotte Gyoba's parents, born of whom were Issei (Japanese-born), were interned in 1942 at the camp at New Denver, where Charlotte was born. Her father was a logger, a faller, who lived on Vancouver Island near Cumberland; her mother, already married, had come from Japan to join him in 1933. Early in 1942, the RCMP arrested her father at home at gunpoint, and ordered her mother with her three small children--one a newborn--to report to Hastings Park (the PNE) in Vancouver, the transshipment point for the internment camps in the Interior. Later in the war, the Gyoba family moved to the camp at Tashme (now the Sunshine Valley site near the Hope Slide on the Hope-Princeton highway), where Charlotte's brother Jim was born in 1945. They were planning to go back to Japan as part of the "repatriation" which started on May 31, 1946. (The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour and the subsequent declaration of war provided the justification to British Columbian [and western US] authorities to do what they had been trying to accomplish for years – get rid of people of Japanese ancestry from the coast. A campaign of intimidation began in April, 1945 – six months before the end of the War--against Japanese-Canadians living in British Columbia with the intention of forcing them either to eastern Canada or "back" to Japan; 3,984 people eventually went to Japan, many of whom were Canadian-born. A recent novel, The Electrical Field, by Kerri Sakamoto, reflected on the experience of a Japanese-Canadian woman whose family moved to a small Ontario town following wartime internment in B.C. Read the Vancouver section for more background).

However, the Gyoba family, together with several other Japanese-Canadian families from the camps, decided to move to Spuzzum due to available jobs at a sawmill there (and because Spuzzum was outside the 100-mile exclusion radius from the coast). Some of them lived in the old hotel, probably paying rent to the Reynolds family who owned it. The Gyobas, with their five children, had two rooms. A large group of men, including the father of the Nikkei figure Roy Inouye, occupied the parlour. During their time there, they erected a bathhouse beside (to the left of) the hotel and a number of cabins, all now demolished. Other families lived in a row of at least a dozen tarpaper cabins that had been erected by Mr. Neville, the owner of the sawmill, down the road from the hotel. After the federal cabinet repealed its deportation order on January 24, 1947, and removed all restrictions on settlement, most of the Japanese-Canadian families left Spuzzum – after 1950, there were only three of them left in the village.

New Year's Day 1948--the Japanese men on the front steps of the Spuzzum Hotel

After some initial coolness, the newcomers were accepted into the community. Charlotte Gyoba became best friends with Bambi (Marion) McInnes, the native girl who lived down the street (in the house on the left of the watercolour below). The Gyobas became friendly with Spuzzum's most celebrated resident, the Nlaka'pamux woman Annie York, often giving her a ride into Hope for shopping. (Annie York [1904-1991], through publications including Spuzzum, Fraser Canyon Histories, 1808-1939, co-authored with Andrea Laforet [UBC Press, 1998], explained and recreated the history of her people, reflecting the transition her culture made from precontact ways through the years of the gold rush, the CPR and the arrival of the automobile.)

Around 1950 the lumber company closed, Charlotte's parents bought the small house to the north of the hotel which had been the lumber company's office and turned it into a home, then her father went to work for the CPR. The family eventually grew to seven children, all of whom attended the elementary school at the corner of 1st Avenue (still standing and leak-free, according to "Spuzzum Pete," who says its most recent use was as a party house). Charlotte's older sisters Elsie and Joyce worked through their highschool and university years in the coffee bar at the general store across the railway tracks.

August 1959 – the Gyobas' house immediately to the north of the old hotel

1960 – the same house following renovation. This is how it looked until recently, when after many years of abandonment it fell to bits.

 

The hotel about 1960 in deep snow, with the old porch removed

All photographs from Charlotte Gyoba's collection.


Written/sketched 2002: The second general store and Esso Station on the Trans Canada Highway at Spuzzum burned to the ground a couple of years ago, making it even easier to drive past Spuzzum and, as the saying goes, "blink and miss it."

But the original general store, on the old Trans Canada highway that wound down the hill toward the old Alexandra Bridge, still stands, converted into a residence with a bed of flowers occupying the space in front where the gas pumps once stood. It is not the most prepossessing building in the province, as you can see, and has lost its porch and balcony, but it has a certain historic significance. It was probably opened soon after 1926, when the Cariboo Road reopened as a toll road following the rebuilding of the Alexandra Bridge.The toll was $1--an astonishing sum in the 1920s, equally to about two hours of a skilled tradesman's labour, or about $40 in current money.

Postcard c.1960 by J.C. Walker, Vancouver. Collection of Charlotte Gyoba

Charlotte Gyoba, who grew up near the Spuzzum Hotel, recalls that the Bowerman and Lintott families ran the store. Mrs. Bowerman's blueberry pies were famous and once featured in the Vancouver Sun; she paid the local children 25 cents for a tobacco can full of berries picked nearby – blueberries, saskatoons, huckleberries and blackberries, whatever was in season.

Correspondence about Spuzzum

From Thomas Lockhart, 2013: I'm the present owner of the School House in Spuzzum.  I have owned it for about 25 years and know a little bit about the history of the town.  I have old photos of the area/site that came from an resident that lived there for some 60 years.... Old Sam.  He worked for the railway for years and lived in a cabin just north of the old school marm’s house (both now owned by Spuzzum Pete).


Photos from Thomas Lockhart

From Kat Bat, 2013: I passed through Spuzzum on the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1974 when I was just eight years old when my family moved to the west coast from New York.  My memory is of a train station, a grocery store, a post office and not much else.  My siblings and I loved the name and drove our parents crazy repeating it over and over ad nauseum.  In the early 2000s (I forget the exact year) my husband and I were travelling in B.C. and once more I passed through Spuzzum.  We didn't do very much searching but the only evidence we saw was a sign that said Welcome to Spuzzum.  I'm glad to see that civilization still exists there.

From Al Stark, 2011, to Jack Van Beers (and anyone else interested): I was fortunate enough to meet a woman named Jan-Marie Martell on the internet, after a long search. I had seen a documentary on the Knowledge Network once, about Annie and Arthur and I dearly wanted to see it again to record it. The video, entitled "Bowl of Bone/Tale of the Syuwe" was no longer being aired on TV but once in contact with Jan-Marie, she offered to make a copy for me for which I was truly grateful. I'm sure that she wouldn't mind (say so, please if you do, Jan-Marie) if I made a copy or two for others who truly have ties to Annie and Arthur. They were good friends of my family from Chilliwack (James Lockhart Stark and Jenetta Caroline Stark) and we used to visit them often in Spuzzum. I have many fond memories of them and the area and was so thankful to be able to receive this DVD; the only one in existence that I am aware of. Jan-Marie did an excellent job on it. Please drop me an email if you wish one. email: allan_stark@hotmail.com 

To have others enjoy it as much as I do, would be very rewarding. I would love to see the Knowledge Network air it again but hard to say if they will. 

Here is a link to the transcript of the Imbert Orchard Interview with Annie York, which opens separately in a pdf file.

From James Harbeck, 2011: I do a blog of "word tasting notes" - like tasting wines, but I taste words - and a friend suggested Spuzzum. I include a link to your site in the article on it, so I thought you might like to read it: http://sesquiotic.wordpress.com/2011/11/27/spuzzum/

Note from Allan Stark, Penticton, 2010: Just wondering whether you knew Annie York and Arthur Urchardt? I visited them quite a few times in my childhood; they were very good friends of my grandparents, the Starks, who lived in Chilliwack. Have fond memories of both Annie and Arthur, and was saddened to hear that they have both passed on. I went by their old cabin recently and that started my investigating on the web re Spuzzum.

Note from Irene Bjerky, who recently tried to buy the former hotel, 2009: Most of what I have is the former owners' info; apparently it was owned by a recluse for some years, who, it was found after his death, had the tool shed filled to the roof with beer cans he either drank or collected, I'm not sure which.

The next owners were a Dutch or German couple who apparently moved the kitchen from the downstairs to the upstairs; redid the plumbing and wiring, and added a really good airtight wood-burning stove (about 1994). Then the final owner that I tried to buy from was named John Butler, who lives in California, I think (have to look that up too); and the new owners that finally were able to buy the place are the owners of the Fort Hope Trading Post Antique store.

In any case, as you correctly stated, the place was built in 1923, and was a hotel first I think, but don't know for sure. It was a police station with a jail, for the BC Police (one of my relatives, Arthur Urquhart, was a member of the BC Police force in Spuzzum around that time; Andrea Laforet knows more about this). And, I can ask my mom more about when it was used during WWII in the internment camp years.

The house has seven decent sized bedrooms, four downstairs and three upstairs; two bathrooms; a very large living room downstairs (where the wood stove is), and a very large living room upstairs. The kitchen has a large pantry off of it. There are two medium-sized balconies, as you know, one fronting the access road (First Avenue), and one facing the large yard that borders the Trans Canada Highway. There are all kinds of fruit trees, garden stuff, and outbuildings on the property, with an elaborate sprinkler system. The water system comes from a small creek across the highway, part of the property ownership. The fruit trees have apples, pears, crabapples, and cherries, as far as I can remember, and there are various berry bushes in an enclosure. There is a garden shed, a tool shed, a greenhouse, and a woodshed. It is a wonderful place, and I desperately wanted to own it.

Note from Anton van Ewijk, 2009: In the section: Note from Irene Bjerky, who recently tried to buy the former hotel, I was happy to see mention of my parents. These owners were in fact Dutch immigrants who moved to Spuzzum after owning and remodeling several homes in the Fraser Valley.  Their names are Simon and Annie van Ewijk.  He is now retired but has been a carpenter for most of his career and learned the trade in the old european apprenticeship fashion.  She worked at Hells Gate while they were living in Spuzzum.  In addition to the renovations mentioned, they also added the concrete foundation (with which I helped) and the exterior decks.  When they bought the house it had been empty for quite some time and they even had to repair and upgrade the water system.  Since the water pipe crosses an active logging road that climbs the mountain accross the highway, they had to do that section in one weekend with long hours of work and finished by lamplight late sunday night.  To this day, they consider it the nicest place they have lived.  If you would like more information about their involvement with the place, drop me an e-mail and i'll pass along the information.

Note from Beth, 2009: I was reading articles which Andrea Laforet  wrote on the internet about her books about Annie and Arthur. I did meet them when I was about 15 years old. I am now 47, but I still remember the house they lived in and the property. It was in nowhere land. Annie knew I was very interested in the sasquatch.  She told me that she had seen one when she was much younger. She even pointed out the point on the property where she saw it.  It was across the Fraser Canyon. It was eerie to hear of someone whom really did see this squatch. That is what I remember about her so long ago.  That was the only time I met the both of them. They seemed very nice and I wish I could have gone back to visit.

Note from Maxine Nelson-Mackenzie-née James: I am a descendant of the james/bobb family of spuzzum. My grandmother christine james is buried in the cemetry at the tunnel ...........somewhere close to spuzzum ........i understand the new hwy has blocked the entrance to this cemetery.........with a house.........where permission has to be given.........this of course should never have happened.....do u know the cemetry i speak of?

Note from Jack van Beers, 2009: I made an enquiry at the Hope Museum about Annie York, and Arthur  Urqhuart, in November 2008, and was informed that they were deceased but that a book authored by Annie York and Andrea Laforet had been published, “Spuzzum Fraser Canyon Histories, 1808-1939”.  Within one week I had purchased the book and became enthralled in Annies stories that were documented in that publication. Some of those stories, I had personally heard Annie tell when I was staying in her and Arthur's property in the little blue and white trailer, south of the house, that is still there today!  I stayed there in the summer of 1962, and 1963, when I was 18 years old. The trailer belonged to Tom Muir, a surveyor for (CPS) Canadian Puget Sound, Jordan River division. I was Tom Muir's assistant, and our mission was to survey a logging road along Spuzzum Creek, with the objective harvest the old growth timber in that region.

I have many fond memories of Annie and Arthur, as I spent countless hours with them in their home, that I remember as spotlessly clean and organized. Annies stories of the sasquatch haunted me, and left me trembling with fear several times as I thought I heard Bigfoot while sleeping in a tent along Spuzzum creek many, many miles in from the Trans Canada Highway, laying  out the logging road.

Arthur, on several occasions treated me to a ride in his Packard to the Spuzzum Store for an ice cream. What a treat! Arthur was such a calm slow talking gentleman. It has been a very long time, but I still remember that both of them had a dislike for alcohol, and viewed it as a real vice.

I feel very privileged to have been in Spuzzum during that period of time, and particularly fortunate to have had Annie and Arthur as part of my life. Many thanks to Andrea Laforet for documenting the history of this area, and the lives of many families, but particularly Annie’s, and Arthur’s.
 

Note from Lois Matson, 2009: I was recently looking up some info on the tunnels in the Fraser canyon and came across. your web site. My parents Doug and Gladys Lintott bought the original store in Spuzzum in 1947 along with my grandparents Grace and Ken Bowerman. They built the new store up on the new High Way in 1958 with the help of  my uncle Les McCabe and other relatives that would also show up to help. We sold the store that year and moved to Penticton and my grand parents moved to the coast. I was wondering if you have any e-mail address from the former residence of Spuzzum. Several years ago I ran into Eddie Gyoba when we went to Spuzzum to spread my cousin Diane’s ashes. I had just been talking about him to my husband  when we saw this man standing on the side of the road looking at our little group. We stopped to explain who we were and I was so surprised that it was Eddie who no longer lives there. What are the chances that some one from your past  40 some years ago would be at the same place as you? I wonder what has happened to Betty and Nancy Oikawa as they were my best friends and I remember being devastated that my parents had moved us. I have many great memories of Spuzzum, we had some really great family gatherings there.

Note from Jack "Norman" White, 2009: I am a former resident of Spuzzum and would like to correspond with Lois Matson who appears on your web page [contact link at the bottom of this page – ed.]. My family lived in Cathmar, a neighboring village, from 1939-44.

Cathmar was a small settlement of CPR  railway workers at Hell's Gate. Cathmar is now called Ades. I believe it was renamed after Alfred Ades, a former Road Master who lived at North Bend. Some of the houses and buildings used at the Hell's Gate tourist site were former Cathmar buildings. When the CPR built a railway siding they would give it a name for reference purposes. As I type this note I am reminded of one time my mother was going to plant some flowers around our house. When she put the shovel in the ground she dug up some old rotten railway ties, so it looks like Cathmar was a siding. This part of the railway was built by contractor Andrew Onderdonk; maybe he established Cathmar? After all, he used to run sightseeing trips with his trains.

Note from Paul White in the UK, 2009: I and other members of my family have been trying to locate the family of my Father who was born to a young lady in 1912 in Birkenhead, Cheshire, England. Her name was Olive May Hamerton / White. She was born in Spuzzum around 1895, her parents being  Octavus Nelson Hamerton and Euphemia Hamerton nee White. If anyone has any information, no matter how small (and any photos would be absolutely fantastic).We have been looking for a long time and kept hitting the proverbial brick wall. So any leads would be great, and very much appreciated. Update 2010 from Sharon McKenna: I am the great-niece of Olive May Hammerton (our family spelling) and Nelson Hammerton and his wife Euphemia are my great grand-parents. I remember my great-aunt very well ; she had two daughters and I believe several grand-children are still living in California. I have always thought that great-grandmother's name was Birrell before marriage. My grandmother was Emma Jane Hammerton (House), Olive's sister. There was another sister, Annie (Pafford), a brother Harold, and a brother Ernie. [Please correspond with her via the link at the bottom of the page]

From Johanna Sawer, 2009: I also have fond memories of driving to Spuzzum on a Sunday afternoon as a child. My parents were Howard and Mary Stevenson - friends of the restaurant owners I believe - and we used to drive to Spuzzum just to have breakfast . It was a wonderful memory for me growing up, the drive up the canyon was breathtaking. My Dad was a logging truck driver - and knew many of the men who made Spuzzum a stop on their routes - Today - I would love to start up the tradition with my own kids - only I understand it burned down a few years ago. So sad.


Note from Terumi Leinow, 2007: I am one of the many families who lived in Spuzzum – Charlotte Gyoba was a classmate of mine in the one-room schoolhouse in Spuzzum. I am part of the Oikawa family (there were two Oikawa families who lived there). My father Kengo, his wife, Shimako (who just celebrated her 90th birthday last weekend) and me, Dulce Terumi. My father's brother Keigo & Maikie had 4 children, George (who lives in Hope - and still owns property in Spuzzum), Mikiko, Ritsu and Hitomi (who live in Vancouver). It is interesting for me, who married an American and now lives in sunny California, that my past somehow erases itself behind me! Tashme, where I was born, no longer exists and Spuzzum where I spent part of my early childhood is slowly vanishing. I grew up with the name Dulce Oikawa for most of my life and reverted to my Japanese name Terumi when I moved to California. I have fond memories of the Spuzzum days, where all the families gathered at the bathhouse near the hotel and my father would piggyback me on his back as we returned to our cabin under the night stars. The local store was a treasure to us, and I recall my mother feeding the "hobos" that came by on the trains!


This is a watercolour I [Michael Kluckner] painted in 1992 of the old TransCanada highway at Spuzzum. The CPR track is on the right and the view looks northward; the current TransCanada highway is out of the picture on the left. The small cabin with the porch on the left is now in ruins, as is the cabin with the blue door visible between the large trees in the middle of the picture. The brown wall in the distance, to the left of the leftmost tree, is the side wall of the old hotel. The Gyobas' house was out of sight in the distance. Note from Miki Wilson: I used to live in Spuzzum with my grandparents. [In your picture] you can see some of the old hotel and Mr. Rockell's house.
 

Photos below from Yale and District Historical Society


The store in the 1930s

Two images of the toll gate and provincial police post at Spuzzum

Note from Anthony J. Wheeldon: Hey i found your site and i am wondering when i was a child up until i was 18 i used to go to hundred mile house 5 or more times a year do i ever miss those long rides anyways i remember always stopping at the esso in spuzzum and we would always stop to eat at the restaurnt heck i even remember having a christmas dinner there one year beacause the highway close due to the bad weather. what i was wondering is if you have any pictures of the building that burnt down it a shame that knowbody can enjoy their own memorys that i have as a child. The guy who owned the gas station was a good freind of my mom and dad and the lady who ran the restaurnt always bright & happy to serve any and all customers new and returning. and also i was wondering do your think or know if they ever were going to rebuild? 

Contact me

 

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Artwork and text ©Michael Kluckner, 2001, 2002