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January 6th, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 1
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Looking Back - John Kinnear
Looking Back at Looking Back
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Photos courtesy John Kinnear
Lou Lecerf standing by the one and only Hotel Rock
“I was looking back to see if you were looking back to see
If I was looking back to see if you were looking back at me”
George Jones


2015 was the tenth year of writing for the Pass Herald for me and looking back I am gob smacked at the number of articles and the amount of research that has gone into it all. Prior to moving here in 2005 I wrote for another paper in Fernie for the same amount of time. So that is twenty years of kicking out what I hoped would be interesting stories and passing on my thoughts on stuff.

You may have noticed that I rarely wax political and try to stay away from controversial issues. Sometimes that is hard to do as every time I pull back the rug of history it seems that there are cockroaches (nasty or disturbing stories) that come scurrying out and beg to be told. Looking back at this year’s articles I found I had, as usual, presented a broad cross section of lighter topics and I thought I might be fun to revisit some of them with perhaps updates or personal comments on where they took me. If you are unaware, most of my articles from 2009 on are posted in an online archive so if you missed or are interested in any I mention here you can check them out at passherald.ca in their archives. Just click on the Looking Back picture and go from there.

I started 2015 off by reviewing a book on the history of Alberta weekly newspapers and got some nice feedback about former Taber Times publisher Walter Koyanagi. Walter came to Taber as a Japanese enemy alien, stripped of his citizenship and sent to the sugar beet fields of Southern Alberta. He persevered despite being menaced by the then Taber Times editor and eventually became an owning partner in that very newspaper. Go figure!

In February I revisited the Bellevue Cafe shootout in which Alberta Provincial Police officer Fredrick Bailey and RCMP officer Ernie Usher lost their lives. Special APP constable Nick Kyslik was shot in an accidental pursuit incident the next day. I got a bit of interesting feedback on this one from the king of researchers around here, one Ian McKenzie. Ian asked me if I knew that: “after the Bellevue Cafe shootout, the injured Tom Basoff tried to get help from Mrs. Holloway at the Blossomwood Ranch house (present day Koentges house above Frank) because she was a nurse? She sent him away with some food, then telephoned the police while smothering the phone bells with her hand. The police arrived with their bloodhounds Lightning, Dynamite and Dan, but could not pick up the trail.”

He also reminded me that the first policeman killed in Alberta (post 1905) was Royal Northwest Mounted Police Constable Ernest Willmett who was murdered in Frank in 1908. Sounds like another story to look into!

The March 18th story on Mazama, a 7,700 year old volcano also got noticed by a researcher in Canmore who is trying to verify where some 2,300 year old ash found in a trench there came from. It is a wind direction thing I guess. I discovered some time after the article that Mazama volcanic ash, which reached as far north as Edmonton, was noted in an archaeological report in the Line Creek area where I worked for 35 years. It was right there, under my nose, in the older creek delta sediments.
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In April and May I touched on topics like the polenta/pellagra odd piece of history and a story reminding us all on how we all used to use coal. It seems these days that fact is to be swept under the rug while we turn our landscape into a backdrop for War of the Worlds with Martian monoliths (aka windmills) plastered everywhere. (Did that sound a little political?). I also wrote about the famous Doolittle’s Raiders and glanced back at 1980 in the Pass courteousy of Mrs. Mundie’s scrapbooks. Lots more stories to come from these gems in the future.

It seems my comments in a late May column on El Nino struck a nerve with some people. I make a point of studying weather locally and otherwise and remember well the 1997 El Nino event in Fernie. There was a lot of evidence and research available when I made my prediction that this one would be a dandy and it sure looks like it is in spades. When combined with human induced warming it has resulted in some hellish weather and even impacted airline traffic. It seems that we can expect up to 40% more turbulence in flights and that will probably mean redirected flight paths, longer flights and guess who is going to pay for this headache. Yup. You and me.

The June 10th -Il Bosc/East Bushtown story that featured Duke Scodellaro was so much fun to dig into. A recent facebook post on a site called “Lost Kootenays” has a picture of the 1937-38 Trail Smoke Eaters with Duke’s picture up in the first row. The site has a link to the story of them winning the Savage Cup (BC Championship) and an explanation of how they got their name. (it is not what most people think!) If you go to this site - http://www.spokanehockeybook.com/TheSavageCup.pdf you will find a great article on this amazing team’s history.

July’s story entitled: “The Cycle of Lime” dug into the history of the limestone kilns at Frank. In the process I got to wander an amazing series of connecting trails west of the kilns and finally got to see “Hotel Rock”, the biggest baddest hunk of limestone ever to fall off a mountain. Still haven’t heard a logical explanation on the dozens of specially built trails that wend their way through this area and which are not connected to the mining of limestone for the kilns.
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In September I dug into the story of Robert Wilson Coulthard and the formation of the Second Canadian Tunneling Company in 1915, a regiment who were part of the nightmare that was trench warfare in Flanders. I followed this piece with one called “Nightmare at Mount Sorrel” the details of which will haunt me forever. I had occasion to work underground in some rather scary places but the stories from the horrific tunneler’s war left me dumb struck.

In late October I wrote about Thomas Wilby and Fonce Haney and their trip across Canada in 1912 in a Reo motorcar. Remarkably part of their trip led me to a photo taken in early October very close to Hotel Rock in the Frank Slide. Funny how things connect up sometimes isn’t it.

Revisiting the story of the 2003 Lost Creek fire allowed me to dig deeper into helicopter history and design, one of my favourite topics. If you really want to get your mind around how the Crowsnest Pass looks do it from the air in a chopper. You will not regret it. Seems to me there must be a business opportunity here for just such an exercise. Helicopter tours to Gargantua, the plane crash and so on. Part of diversifying our attractions here.

And so we go into 2016 with lots of challenges locally, provincially and federally ahead of us all. Don’t look for me to weigh in on any of this business. I’ll try and keep it light and entertaining. Year eleven here I come.
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January 6th ~ Vol. 85 No. 1
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