by Gene Blackman
This accounting is from my memories and perspective. My memories start when I was about 6 in 1953.
Thelma and Jim Partridge owned the Tete Jaune Store. The Partridge family was a very integral part of the early Tete Jaune community. The Tete Jaune community was basically located down the Old Tete Jaune Road at the second CN railway crossing. The CN station was going full steam, the Tete Jaune Store and Post Office was located adjacent to the present day railroad crossing. The store and post office was owned and operated by the Partridge family. They had three daughters, Katherine, Patsy, Mary-Ellen and one son.
The one room school was adjacent to Dale and Pam Cinnamon’s driveway. At noon some of the kids would sometimes walk down to the store to buy goodies.
Jim Partridge owned and operated the school bus, which was an early 1950’s GMC or Chev panel truck. It had a “real” bus style passenger door opener. The seats were a long bench, one located on each side of the interior, so we sat facing each other but no windows, except the front and rear doors.
In the mid fifties, the wooden bridge was built and the “new” road was completed from the corner of the “Old Tete Jaune Rd” through to the highway adjacent to the Tete Jaune Lodge. This diverted the traffic flow from the old Tete Jaune Bridge to the new bridge.
The local school district built a new school adjacent to the Tete Jaune Community Hall. This factor and the fact that the old store was always being flooded by the Fraser River Jim and Thelma built a “new” store and Post Office in the present location. Basically Tete Jaune moved.
Jim installed a “lighting plant” at his new store which allowed him to have electric lights, fuel pumps, freezers and fridges for food storage. The power plant also supplied power to the school and teacherage next door.
I can remember the construction of the present Tete Jaune store, although I am not sure what year that was. It seemed like a huge project, with lots of activity. It was a big footprint for the time; we had never seen anything this big. There was lots of lumber to be moved about. Some of the local kids helped pack boards from here to there, probably during the framing of the walls.
Some of my favorite memories of the store were all the “stuff” it had. When I could save up enough coinage I would buy a can of strawberries to take out on our adventures around the area during the summer holidays. Also being able to just pop over to the store and buy a candy bar or pop was pretty cool.
As we only lived a few miles from the store many times my mother would ask me to ride my bike up to the store for some small items like a pound of hamburger, a pack of cigarettes for her or some such. It usually meant that there might be some change left over for a personal purchase.
It’s a shame that the store has burned down as it really was the only building left from that era.
There were several owners of the store and at times it was a real hub to the community – especially when the post office was part of the operation. When the new Highway 5 was built and the railroad built the new connector line, that really changed Tete Jaune. The store lost its significance to the community or perhaps the community lost its significance to the store.