David Lepsoe hosted two well-attended historical tours on Saturday, May 5, sharing the rich history of the community he loves to call home. (Rick Koch photo)

Quaint never gets old in Chase

History of Chase village revived through tours by village councillor.

The first lot in the township of Chase was sold to William Price – surveyor at the Adams River Lumber Company on May 5, 1908. One hundred and ten years ago, life in the area was very different.

At first Chase had only four cars; most residents had a variety of skills supplementing their income. However, they had the train, and daily entertainment consisted of meeting passengers arriving at the train station twice a day – at 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

It was a world very different from today.

On May 5, 2018 local historian and village councillor David Lepsoe put on two historic tours of Chase.

The tours were sold out, more than 60 people attended, showing a great interest in learning about the history of this picturesque village.

Lepsoe has been putting on these tours since 2004. He wanted to share his passion for history with like-minded individuals and anyone interested in the culture and history of the area. Lepsoe dedicated many volunteer hours and personal funds to develop the historic tours.

“It is always work in progress,” he says, and the booklet was a very important step. This year he added a slideshow of historic photographs revealing even more fascinating facts from the past. His partnership with history enthusiast Vic Skijie and professional event planner Elena Markin have brought up the tours to the next level.

During his tour Lepsoe encouraged people to touch the historic artifacts – the old power pole and the façade of the Underwood Hotel.

Involving the sense of touch is really valuable when exploring history, as you can feel the tangible objects that generations before have touched. Sensing how important exploring history with the sense of touch and as a token of appreciation of Lepsoe’s dedication to the history of the community, Skijie gifted two antique chairs used by the general manager of the Adams River Lumber Company Walter Lammers and Mr. Mason, the treasurer. The chairs date from the beginning of the century and Lepsoe was delighted and honoured to receive them.

“When the Adams River Lumber Company closed, the town turned to tourism,” says Lepsoe. “It is now time once again to turn to tourism – the village has a wonderful opportunity to showcase both its history and its close connection with the Secwepemc communities. This, along with some new historic hiking trails, will not only showcase our history, it will create a form of sustainable cultural history injecting much-needed tourist dollars into the area. Every year it seems another potential heritage house is torn down. Last year we lost the original fire hall. When the Balmer house, which was last on my tour, was torn down last month, I thought this tour was needed to bring attention to the enormous opportunity we have here in Chase to not only save its history, as well the huge economic opportunity for the area.”

A tourism professional from Ontario attending Lepsoe’s tour spoke to the beauty and the historic treasures of Chase, saying, “Quaint will never go out of style, and it will always attract tourists and newcomers.”

Suggestions for funding, grants and donations to further develop the historic tours and continue this educational initiative are welcomed.

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