Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation
Box 1348 Tumbler Ridge, BC V0C 2W0
Contact: Carolyn Golightly, President email@example.com
February 22, 2004
The Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation (TRMF) shone the spotlight on local history
in a big way on February 18 when they hosted an evening combining the epic
history of the 1930s Monkman Pass Highway project with the grandeur of present-day
The public library was filled to capacity with an audience
of 130 as five guest speakers brought a variety of perspectives
to the topic. Charles Helm, Vice President
of TRMF, presented a concise history of Alex Monkman and the heroic individuals
who helped him blaze a trail from Beaverlodge, through the Rockies to near
Prince George, in 1937-39, in an effort to find a viable export
route for the grain
of the Peace River area farmers. Only the outbreak of World War II stopped
them. He followed up with a slideshow of the more distinctive
and magnificent features
along the route, noting the tourism potential of these sites.
Ben Foster followed with a slideshow of the projects he supervises
for the Monkman Homestead Preservation Society, involving the
restoration of the old Monkman
homestead and barn near Lake Saskatoon. Monkman was the very first settler
in the Grande Prairie region in 1900.
Next, Rob Bressette and Scott Fraser of BC Parks described
the unappreciated gem that is Monkman Provincial Park, and
shared their short-term and long-term
plans for the park. One of these is the possible creation of a link between
Monkman Park and Wapiti Lake Park, with a multi-day hiking trail.
During a refreshment break, the audience viewed numerous
historical items on display, after which they heard a firsthand
recollection of a Monkman
by Janet Hartford. Speaking for over half an hour without a note, Janet
- who is considered the “matriarch” of Tumbler Ridge - described her glorious
teenage days of 1939, spent at Kinuseo Falls and Monkman Lake. In appreciation
of the invaluable contributions Janet and her husband George have made to the
history of Tumbler Ridge and in forming its museum, they were presented with
a plaque awarding them the TRMF’s first honorary lifetime membership.
Also in attendance were Dale Chambers and Joan Jones of the
Beaverlodge area whose father, Ted Chambers, was one of the
original 1937 trailblazers. They have
generously allowed his treasured photo album to be included in a permanent
Monkman exhibit in the Community Centre, alongside the other
The evening had a spin-off effect, spurring initiatives like
detailed research on the Monkman Highway and the possible creation
of a motor tour to the accessible
sections, and the improvement of the hiking trail to Monkman Lake this summer.
In addition, the creation of a side trail to the “Cascades” is planned;
this unique series of eight consecutive waterfalls on Monkman Creek is considered
to be one of North America’s finest and least appreciated natural wonders.
Thanks to the efforts of the WNMS, four of the most impressive of these waterfalls
have officially been named for members of the Trailblazer crew: Chambers, McGinnis,
Monkman and Brooks Falls, respectively.
The Museum Foundation hopes to add to its exhibits a working
replica of a 1927 Model T Ford - the vehicle that was coaxed
and cajoled over the Pass in 1938
- and its newest director, Jack McNeil, has accepted the project.
The TRMF is continuing its Wednesday evening lecture series
with Ross Peck’s
presentation on the first settlers in the Tumbler Ridge area in 1914. This event
starts at 7 pm, March 17 in the public library. Admission and refreshments are
free, however, the library will gratefully accept donations toward a new projector.