By Andrea Arnold
Early in 1960, residents of Mountainview beyond Sunbeam Creek did not have hydro. They were short two more residences to complete a successful application to the BC Power Commission to have poles put in and service fed to the far end of the road.
In April of that year, Wayne Zimmerman and Jess Peachy moved in with their families near the Marsh’s, and were approached immediately to be a part of the request.
“When we got here, they said it was an answer to prayer,” said Zimmerman. “They were trying to get this in, and they needed two more residences.”
“He (Zimmerman) was one of the two more needed so that we could put more force behind the request,” said Dave Marsh. “Gave us more power.”
88 cedar poles were sourced from a variety of locations nearby. Each family was responsible for supplying a number of poles. The men remember they had to source, harvest and peel the logs. Also, each applicant was responsible for a sum of money. Although neither man can remember exactly how much, it was around $750, a lot of money for the time. The deal stipulated that when more people moved onto the line, some of the money would be returned.
“This never happened,” said Marsh.
Maurice Bonneville was hired to dig the post holes and erect the poles. This included the anchor points for some. In a few cases, Marsh remembers the machines couldn’t get to where the anchor points needed to be. He remembers four such locations.
“Jack and I did some work for him,” said Marsh. “We dug the anchor holes by hand where they couldn’t get the machines in. I remember digging way down and hitting a giant rock. Our contract didn’t go too well after that.”
“I don’t remember exactly what time of year it was,” said Zimmerman. “But I do remember battling the mosquitoes. So my guess is it was July or August when we were getting the poles.”
A bit later that year, another new neighbour moved into the area. Will Krinkie, a retired electrician from Alberta. He got the required permits and helped the residents wire their homes. He would instruct the homeowners, but then left the work up to them. Krinkie was also able to provide the locals with wholesale prices on supplies.
“We left the wiring open, and he came to inspect it,” said Marsh.
The men remember that the power came on just before Christmas, but the only really sudden change was the ability to flick a switch for light. It was a slow lifestyle change.
“No microwaves,” said Zimmerman.
“We had lights,” said Marsh.
“Then refrigeration,” added Zimmerman.
“Refrigeration was the biggest one,” said Marsh. “Because up until then, the creek was our cooler.”
“When we were milking cows and shipping milk in cans, we had a milk house down there. It had been an old cellar. We cemented the sides up and made a milk house out of it and left the water running in. It had a water driven circulator that stirred the milk. The water also flowed around the can. Within a half an hour, the milk would be down to 42 degrees.”
The ability that came with the electricity, to cool milk more efficiently, allowed families to increase their income from milk sales.
The addition of power also brought more residents.
“Nobody lived out on Mountainview because there was no power,” said Marsh. “As soon as we got power, everybody came out here.”
In the beginning, there were 11 residences on the applicant list. The poles that they worked hard to place (or the ones that have replaced them) now serve 47 homes and two industrial sites. Marsh and Zimmerman are the only two of the pioneering 11 applicants remaining, and they like to look at the eight original poles, reminisce, and share their part in the history of the area. The eight poles are easy to spot—grey and weathered with rough surfaces that help tell their story.