Column: Kudos to Sicamous for keeping it light on Old Town Road

Shuswap Outdoors by Hank Shelley

Good on you Sicamous and mayor for making light of the fact your Old Town Road sign keeps disappearing.

Last week, the theft made local and national headlines.

Many years ago, while a sign man for the Merritt highways district, before getting into fisheries, I spent nine seasons repairing and replacing signs and delineators (small reflectors on bad corners), etc.

Much of that time was spent in the Fraser Canyon. The popular Highway Thru Hell series on TV was where we came in. Replacing signs or trying to improve signing to help the motoring public.

My helper and I witnessed many deaths and major wrecks in our work. But there was always a bright side, like having to replace the Spuzzum sign. The Coca Cola company had a contest. Winner gets a trip to – you guessed it: Spuzzum. We had to replace that sign a dozen times. After crossing the Alexandra Bridge over the Fraser River, the community is right there. In those days, it had the Sasquatch Cafe. When you walked in it was like a giant igloo. Real cute. The community’s name,Spuzzum, is derived from the First Nation word meaning “little flat.” Similar to Sicamous coming from the Secwepemc First Nation name meaning “narrow” or “squeezed in the middle.”

Read more: Video: Popular song draws attention, thieves to Sicamous’ Old Town Road

Read more: UPDATED: Sicamous pursues property to support proposed campground

You can now buy Old Town Road signs for $ 25 bucks. Looking back, Old Town was a thriving community. Federated Co-op also had a log booming ground there. Until it was sold, Old Town was popular for boating, swimming, fishing off the log booms and hanging out.

Our signs for highway use came from Langford near Victoria.

Canada was the first country to invent the reflective sign, with a thin layer of aluminum beneath an overlay

of yellow and black. I remember ordering a dozen flagging paddles (stop/slow) that were yellow and red. They arrived with razor sharp edges. They were made in a prison workshop, and were all sent back to be improved. Road signs mean different things to many folks. They identify destinations, memorial names, possessive names, honorific names as in royalty, etc.

For locals, the Old Town Road sign has its own significance and, thanks to the district, it will always be there.


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