FOREST ADMINISTRATION In the early 1900’s, the forests were managed by the Federal Government. They built trails through the main valleys and into the upper lakes like McGillivray, Cahilty, Eileen and Hyas. These trails were patrolled and maintained by workers on horseback, mainly for the purpose of spotting forest fire threats.
In 1915, the Dominion Forest Station was built near the Shaw ranch (Whitecroft) consisting of a nine-room log home, a barn and a blacksmith shop. Water was piped in, and eventually a telephone line was installed. Poles were cut on the south side of Heffley Lake, floated across the lake and transported to where needed. Holes were dug, and poles erected. A single wire was strung, and a ground wire completed the circuit. Remains of the pole cutter’s cabin can still be seen in the bush on the south side of the main part of the lake, west of the twin bays and not far beyond the lily pad area. Right up to the 1950’s, this was the only telephone service in the area, so news of births, deaths, marriages or other noteworthy events were distributed from there. During the 2nd World War, Rob White had the job of delivering messages to families about the fate of their loved ones serving overseas.
AH KING CHOW (1861-1961) Most of all the early settlers were of European origin. One exception to that was a young Chinese man by the name of Ah King Chow. He settled in the area in the late 1800’s. His first job upon arriving was to manage the farm owned by George Martin located north of Heffley Creek. Mr. Martin was a politician and spent much of his time in Victoria. The farm was previously owned by James Tod, chief trader for HBC. (Tod Mt., John Tod School.) By 1906, Ah King started homesteading near the Shaw Ranch (Whitecroft) and continued to work on various ranches and farms in the area. By the 1920’s, he was herding sheep on Mt. Baldy (Tod Mt.) Nearly 30 years would pass before the first cattle were grazing the same area. Ah King was well liked, popular and generous to a fault.
Stories are told of him taking a horse and wagon to Kamloops, visiting ‘cousins’ who leased land on the Indian Reserve and stocking up with a wagon load of fresh vegetables. On the trip home he would stop along the way for visits and tea. At each place, he left behind some of his vegetables. Some wondered if he would have any vegetables left by the time he reached home.
It was likely on one of those trips, he met Lucy, an Indigenous woman from the Kamloops Indian Reserve. Lucy already had a young daughter by the name of Rosie. Ah King and Lucy were together for many years. Lucy and her daughter created excellent beadwork, decorating buckskin they sold or gave away.
During the Great Depression of the 1930’s, Ah King was known to shoot deer, frequently out of season. He then distributed meat to many of his neighbours. Word of him doing this would get out and the game warden would ride up to investigate. Usually, Ah King was tipped off and removed evidence before the warden arrived. However, he was sometimes caught and readily paid the $ 25.00 fine. The warden, after such a long trip, was frequently invited to one of Ah King’s neighbours for an out-of-season meal of roast venison, compliments of Ah King.
With the help of W. W. Shaw and his daughter Rhoda, Ah King was apparently the first person of Chinese descent to receive a Canadian Old Age Pension. In his senior years he moved to the Wandell homestead beside Siwash Creek, near the Tod Mountain Road.
As Ah King’s health deteriorated, he needed extra help. (a friend, by the name of Wing moved in with them.) Wing was a farmer, growing food to take to market in Kamlooops. He never learned to speak English but was well liked. He was related to Peter Wing, former mayor of Kamloops (1966-71)
Eventually, Ah King needed more care and moved to Kamloops for his remaining years. He died on January 8th, 1961, at the age of 99. Wing and for a while, Lucy, continued to live on at the homestead. In his later years, residents of the area helped him out, bringing supplies from town and providing firewood. The homestead never had electricity or an indoor bathroom, but it suited him fine. He died in 1981 and as soon as he passed, the new owner demolished the old homestead. (See painting of the homestead by Lorraine Romeo, Bev Wynn’s mum. Bev and family were long- time residents of Heffley Lake.)
THE FLOOD OF 48 The winter of 1947/48 was a long one. Snow levels continued to rise throughout the winter. Spring arrived late with no real thawing until the end of April. Finally, by the middle of May, the temperature rose high enough for serious melting to occur. Frank Devick, concerned about the new dam that had been constructed on Little Devick Lake just the previous fall, decided to check it out. He rode his horse as far as he could and completed the trip on foot. It took him 3 hours, wading through waist deep snow to cover the last mile. All looked fine so he returned home.
On the 20th of May, it started to rain and over the next 4 days, 3 inches fell. On Monday May 24th, 76-year-old prospector and outdoorsman, Easter-Young ‘Tom’ Hicks left the Heffley Creek Store and made his way seven miles up the creek before finding a suitable camping spot for the night.
Just before 3:00 am in the early hours of the 25th, the Devicks were startled awake by a tremendous roar. Getting up, they could see the whole of their bottom pasture was gone. A 30-foot wall of water tore down through the valley on its way to Heffley Creek. The newly constructed dam had completely failed. Although most people downstream were sleeping, the roar was so loud they woke in time to escape with their lives. Homes, barns, livestock and vehicles washed away under the onslaught.
The Marriot home, a mile up from the store washed away while the Case family were trapped in their home as water rushed past on both sides. They watched as their barn was smashed to bits and their garage, automobile and livestock washed away. The water hit the lower end of Heffley Creek with such force, it destroyed the road and the CN rail line.
Fearful that the larger dam at Heffley Lake might also give way, crews were sent to the lake to strengthen it and luckily, it held. The flood damage was not limited to Heffley Creek. That Spring, large portions of Kamloops were underwater and there was extensive flooding in the Fraser Valley and elsewhere.
Telephone and power lines at Heffley Creek were restored within the hour. A foot traffic bridge was in place across Heffley Creek by the following day and a temporary traffic bridge was in place within the week. Mr. Hicks had not been seen since he set up camp beside the creek. A search party of eight were sent out. They located his campsite but only found a pot and a shoe. A week after the flood, his battered body was found in a tangle of debris, nearly a mile below the campsite. Miraculously, Mr. Hicks was the only fatality.
KNOUFF LAKE Knouff Lake was famous for huge ‘Kamloops’ trout, prized for its fighting ability. In 1917, a local settler and his son, put nine egg- bound fish from Pinantan Lake into a barrel and transported them to Knouff. The trip took five days, stopping frequently to refill the barrel with fresh water. Once deposited, the fish were left for three years. When fishing opened in 1920, anglers were amazed. Fish as large as 17 pounds and many between 8 to 15 pounds were caught. The lake went on to become known as one of the world’s greatest dry fly-fishing waters. This lasted through the 20’s and into the 30’s. Then in 1933, a drastic mistake was made. Thinking more was better, hatchery workers introduced 75 to 100 thousand fry into the lake. In no time, the food chain collapsed, and the world class fishing lake was destroyed. Never to resume its former glory, but with better management, the lake is still a nice fishing lake.
Knouff Lake has a small, rather uninspiring Forestry campground but an interesting resort. Started in 1904, the Knouff Lake Resort features comfortable heritage log cabins, a store and RV and tenting sites. Recently, after 28 years of ownership, the Lambertons sold it to the Collins family. Note: There has been some confusion as to the proper name of the lake as it was also called Sullivan Lake. Knouff is now the accepted name and the small lake just north of it is Sullivan.
KAMLOOPS TROUT Most of the thousands of small interior lakes were barren of fish prior to deliberate stocking. Some of the larger lakes and a few of the smaller lakes that had navigable water connections to the rivers held a fine species of fish.
Over a period of thousands of years, some Steelhead remained in freshwater year-round, becoming a slightly different species. In 1892, fish taken from Kamloops Lake were identified as Kamloops trout, a subspecies of Rainbow Trout. In 1908, eggs were obtained from Kamloops Trout and planted into Paul and Pinantan Lakes. The results were so successful, more and more lakes were stocked. Today, it is the prominent trout in many interior lakes including Heffley Lake. Attempts to stock them in coastal lakes were not successful. It seems, they only do well in areas like the interior regions of B.C.
McGILLIVRAY LAKE This high-altitude, shallow lake sits 6 kms. southeast of Sun Peaks at an elevation of 1400 meters (4600 feet). The lake, creek and waterfalls were named after Archie McGillivrary, a rancher located in the Pritchard area.
In the early 1900’s, forestry access trails were established. These trails helped to open the region for trapping and hunting. The first recording of a moose being shot was in 1948, but other game was plentiful. Moose have continued to expand their range southward while deer have continued to migrate northward.
Just south of the lake, a rich vein of silica quartz was discovered. Further exploration in the area revealed lead, silver, zinc, and trace amounts of other minerals. The quartz is coarse grained, massive and milky white. There is continued mineral interest in the area with the last known prospecting program completed in 2016. Locals refer to the place as the ‘Rock Quarry”, but the official name is the Chase Silica Property.
The brown ‘tea’ coloured water in McGillivrary is due to the high levels of tannins. The numerous bays, islands and shoals make it an interesting place to explore. There is a rustic picnic spot on one of the SE islands and a lovely log warming cabin provided by Sun Peaks Resort at the northern end of the lake. Across the lake are the remains of an old trapper’s cabin. Prior to it not being usable, it provided a refuge for travelers. Firewood and some canned goods were supplied along with a note asking users to replace what they could.
There is also a small forestry campsite and the fishing in the lake is fair. Nearby, the small lakes of Little McGillivray and Morrisey can be found. Both have forestry sites and make for an interesting short paddle. McGillivray Falls, accessible by an easy 20-minute walk near Whitecroft is a local gem. The shaded spot remains cool in the summer and provides spectacular views of the frozen falls in the winter.
MT. LOLO This mountain, rising 1,748 meters (5735 ft.) above sea level is situated south-west of Heffley Lake. It was named after Jean Baptiste Lolo, a Metis who was an interpreter and right-hand man to the Hudson’s Bay Company factor at Fort Kamloops. (1823 -1843) He was also known as Chief Lolo and Chief St. Paul as he was recognized as a chief by the Secwepemc peoples. (Paul Lake and Mt. Paul are also named after him.) Prior to 1957, the mountain top was the location of a forest fire lookout station. Then in 1957, the United States air force built a radar station on the top of the mountain as part of the Pinetree Line of air defense and a base camp 10km down from the summit. In 1962, the site was transferred to the RCAF. This highly visible radar station remained until 1988.
It was decommissioned due to advances in technology. One of the large antennas was erected in Riverside Park to commemorate the site and later the huge dome was purchased and moved to a farm on the west side of the North Thompson River. The military retained control of the radar site until 2005. They finished demolishing the buildings and returned the land to the people of Tk’emlup te Secwepemc as part of Kamloops Indian reserve # 1.
The mountain can be accessed by way of a rough gravel road (4x4 recommended) by way of the Paul Lake Road to the Cold Creek Road and onto the Mt. Lolo Road (on the right). The reward at the top is an impressive 360-degree view. In 1955, a huge forest fire swept the area, 55 firefighters fought the impressive blaze that could be seen for many miles.
TOD MOUNTAIN – SUN PEAKS The newly formed, Sun Peaks Historical Society is working on a comprehensive history of the development of the ski resort as well as documenting Indigenous history of the area. No release date has been set.
WOMEN IN HISTORY In our research into the history of the area, very little is mentioned of the women who settled and pioneered the area. It is very unfortunate their contributions are so unrecognized. We can only imagine the difficulties they faced dealing with the lack of modern conveniences, bearing and raising children, cooking, cleaning, gardening, looking after livestock, and frequently managing properties when the men folk were absent. Also, given the times, rules and roles for women were more rigid than for men.
HISTORY LIVES ON A significant number of property owners are approaching or have passed their 50th anniversary of residing here, full or part time. They, along with more recent arrivals and those who have come and gone have additional stories to tell and changes they’ve observed over the years. We have only captured a few of the historical people and events that helped shape the region. Many stories are left untold. We invite corrections to this narrative as well as input of new stories and information from others.
We have enjoyed compiling and writing about the history in the area and wish to thank the Heffley Lake Community Association (HLCA) for giving us the opportunity to present this material.
This concludes, at least for now, our part regarding historical information about Heffley Lake and area. We hope you have enjoyed the reads!
Data Compiled by: Ian Stewart Doug Broadfoot
Source Information: John Stewart (Kamloops Museum & Archives) Rob White (A look at Heffley Creek and Upper Valley), Dagmar Devick (Living the Dream), Steve Raymond (An Angler’s Study of the Kamloops Trout) Kamloops Daily Sentinel (Standard) Newspaper, Heffley Creek Community Recreation Association, Ken Ellerbeck (geologist report), Beverly Wynn