Return to main Vanishing B.C. page Return to home page
This page last updated September 1, 2019
© 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.
The hotel about 1960 in deep snow, with the old porch removed
All photographs from Charlotte Gyoba's collection.
From Gregory Butters, 2019: My wife's great grandfather, Noble Smith, was a resident engineer during the construction of the Canadian Northern Pacific Railroad in the Fraser Canyon. He maintained a detailed photographic record of of the construction. I found the attached historic pictures of Spuzzum B.C. in his record.
An I.W.W. (Industrial Workers of the World a.k.a. "Wobblies") strike at Spuzzum in 1912
From Rod Mickleburgh, 2019: there was a big IWW railway strike in 1912, which I write about in On the Line (photo on page 45). The legendary Joe Hill came up to support the strike and wrote one of his most well-known songs: "Where the Fraser River Flows."
[In this photo], based on the way the workers are all lined up together, with some guys appearing to be in charge of them, they could have just been arrested, though it is a heck of a lot of them, with no guns in sight…..
From Mark Leier, SFU history department, 2019: The 1912 IWW strike in the Fraser Canyon was against the Canadian Northern and was a strike by workers, or navvies, building the new line. Grand Trunk Pacific workers further north also went out, and there was some strike action on the Kettle Valley line too, I believe. The strikes were over pay and living conditions in the construction camps. The strikers organized and built their own camps, which were declared by the BC health inspectors much better than the company camps. The workers organized the camps, ran education classes and entertainment, and, according to one reporter, ran the Yale camp like a “miniature socialist republic.” IWW songwriter and martyr Joe Hill made it to the Yale camp and wrote a song, “Where the Fraser River Flows” about the strike. As a very silly aside, many years ago Al Grierson and I, both members of the IWW, busked around Vancouver calling ourselves the Spuzzum River Boys—Just Like Spuzzum, We’re Beyond Hope.
|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.
The old gas station/café in 2019
From Lorelie Michaud, 2019: I was a resident of Spuzzum
for many years... before I was born my Grandparents owned the
old hotel with the pictures of the Japanese folk on the steps.
My parents rented a cabin off of old Sam while I was a baby and
then later bought the house across from the old school. I
attended grade 1 in that school. I knew many of the people in
your pictures and lived next door to the Gyoba family during my
childhood. Your article brought back so many memories...thank
you. I still live in Yale and have raised my children here and
like to go to Spuzzum to remember on occasion!
From Maxine MacKenzie, 2016: My Grandmother Christine
James was partnered with Mack Bobb. I have a picture of them net
fishing at their designated spot. I am willing to share pic. She
was buried in 1951 at the cemetery near the tunnel. Does anyone
know anything about its up keep? Or have a contact person I can
From Sandra Holcik, 2016: Our family are old friends of
Arthur Urquhart and Annie York and have years of fond memories
visiting their home in Spuzzum each summer enroute to Alberta.
We first met them in the summer of 1961 when my
parents' vehicle overheated on the side of the road near their
home and Arthur kindly assisted my Dad with water
for the radiator. They had much in common and became
lifelong friends. Many Spuzzum residents and visitors will
remember Arthur's 1925 Packard Sedan that he bought with his Dad
in Vancouver, drove to Hope for groceries every Sunday and
eventually stored lovingly away in the old garage. The car has
survived and we will be driving it on a Vintage Car Tour this
July 8-10 (2016) in Hope. If you wish a full write-up
of the car's history, I would be glad to write and email one for
From Margaret Jurgens, 2016: here are some old photos of my mom, Marion (Bambi) McInnes, my grand parents ,John and Hazel McInnes, Uncles Bill and Ronny McInnes, aunts Katie and Joan, and 2 old postcards of Spuzzum. My grandparents were both full native ...my grandma was from Lytton BC, grandpa from Laqamel and my mom was born on reserve in Katz BC.
3 bridges over Spuzzum Creek
From Rob Irving, 2016: My dad, Kelly Irving was
stationed in Spuzzum in 1941 as a member of the B.C. Police.
I was born 8 DEC 41 in Chilliwack as that was the closest
hospital at the time. I have no memories of Spuzzum
because dad was transferred to Hazleton in 1942. I do
remember a couple of stories he told pertaining to the area. I
have driven by there and through there over the years and it is
hard to believe it was once a fair sized community.
Enjoyed the stories on your site.
From Gerhard, 2015: I/we have lived in the Valley for
many years, while often, many, many,
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
A view from about the same spot
in 2019 – it's become hoarder's heaven.
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?