Heritage afloat: The first government wharf was built in 1907 by W.L Gibbard’s crew for $5

Wharf inextricably linked to Salmon Arm’s history

When D.W. Smith and William Van Horne dissolved their partnership after a heated argument in 1921, the two men never spoke again

When D.W. Smith and William Van Horne dissolved their partnership after a heated argument in 1921, the two men never spoke again. According to history buff Rollie Jamieson, the partners jointly owned the Alexandra Hotel where the argument took place in the bar room. Van Horn said Smith spent too much time in the bar. Smith accused Van Horne of talking too much to the ladies. Neither man was happy and the hotel work wasn’t getting done.

Bar patrons expected a real fight that night, but were disappointed. A few days later the Salmon Arm Observer announced the legal dissolution of the partnership. Van Horne kept the hotel business and Smith went to work as the city’s wharf keeper, a career that was to last 30 years. He began building small boats. The ladies called him Mr. Smith and everyone else called him D.W. The craftsman became a fixture. Smith was also the official security on-site and reported to city council on petty thievery and vandalism.

How did earlier residents gain access to the waterway that connected to Kamloops and beyond? One hundred and twenty years ago, early surveyor George Mercer Dawson wrote that he “was grounded on the mudflats a quarter of a mile from the Salmon Arm station. Took off boots, and wallowed to shore and back through about a hundred yards of soft mud – so soft in places as to evoke fear [of] being engulfed altogether. To the station and telegraphed for mail to be sent to Sicamous tomorrow. Then to McGuire’s store and got a fresh supply of provisions of which we seem likely to be short.”

Then Mrs. McGuire had a private jetty built. In 1907, McGuire’s pier was replaced by a substantial Government wharf. The Enderby Progress newspaper reported that “[t]he hearts of all Salmon Arm citizens were gladdened by the report on the progress of the wharf question…$5,000 has been placed on the BC Supplementary Estimates for the purpose of building a wharf at Salmon Arm.”

Paddlewheelers that had brought supplies to crews building the C.P.R. were still in use as new ones were being built. They no longer had to nose to shore or rely on a gang plank to access dry land.  Residents on the north side of the lake were still regular visitors and needed access to the railroad, roads, and markets.

This year’s Heritage Week theme, Heritage Afloat, is a nod to a special place – the historic government wharf   that continues to be one of Salmon Arm’s defining features. The celebration is an opportunity to explore all the ways we use water as transportation and how it historically interlinked with road and rail travel.

Heritage Afloat is being celebrated at the Mall at Piccadilly. To see displays, courtesy of the Salmon Arm Museum at R.J. Haney Heritage Village and others, visit between Feb. 17 and 22.

For more, contact the Museum at 250-832-5243.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rezoning proposed for Salmon Arm farmland to allow for future development

Portion of parcel in agricultural land reserve will be sold to large-scale farming operation

Salmon Arm truck stop task force on hold

Mayor waiting on highway construction and related negotiations

Collision at Salmon Arm intersection

Emergency crews responding

Shuswap firefighter ascends Vancouver high rise for fundraiser

Michael Esau climbed more than 700 steps in full gear for B.C. Lung Association

Campaign promotes Syilx/Okanagan language and culture

To support initiative, Nsylixcen t-shirts and water bottles are being distributed across Okanagan

VIDEO: Wet’suwet’en supporters vow to keep protesting at B.C. legislature

Supporters say they will continue ongoing action to hold government accountable

VIDEO: Province promotes ‘lifting each other up’ on 13th annual Pink Shirt Day

Students, MLAs, community members gathered at B.C. Parliament Buildings Wednesday

Prepare for new coronavirus like an emergency, health minister advises

About 81,000 people around the world have now become ill with COVID-19

B.C. residents in Wet’suwet’en territory have right to police presence: Public Safety Minister

Nevertheless, Bill Blair said officials remain ‘very anxious’ for the barricades to come down

Winnipeg police investigating graffiti on RCMP and other buildings

Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen denounced the vandalism

Use of new trailer donated to Salmon Arm horse rescue society

Freedom’s Gate Equine Rescue Society grateful for support of Kamloops business

B.C. seniors’ watchdog calls for better oversight after recent problems at Retirement Concepts care homes

‘There is no financial incentive right now to be a good operator’ - Isobel Mackenzie

Volunteers share amazing memories of Vancouver Olympic games

A decade ago this month, Vancouver hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics. Approximately… Continue reading

Trucking company fined $175K for Kootenay creek fuel spill

Decision handed down last Friday in Nelson court

Most Read