CHAPTER SIX

 

PAST RESIDENTS OF PACIFIC

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It is impossible to record all of the many people who lived in Pacific in the early years. Among those who made the town their home were Mr. and Mrs. Ed Barnes. He was a Car Inspector for the railroad. Mr. Bert Taper was the night locomotive foreman, and he and his wife had a son and daughter of similar ages to the McCubbin children. Dan Taper achieved his doctorate in Agriculture, and recently retired after teaching many years at MacDonald College in St. Anne de Bellevue, P.Q. His sister, Lillian, died of tuberculosis in her late teens.

Mr. and Mrs. Bud Corley were some of the few people, besides the Andersons, Nels Thompson, the McCubbins and the school teacher, who did not work for the railway. They eked out a precarious living farming on the outskirts of Pacific.

The first station agent, Bill Noonan, arrived in 1912, and married Ann Lever who worked in the Nicholl Hotel. Tom Parsons, the district policeman was his best man. They lived in Pacific for many years.

Mr. and Mrs. Fred Rogers were early arrivals – he was day locomotive foreman.

Sam and Eliza Alger

Sam and Eliza Alger were also old timers. They had 3 sons and 4 daughters Alice Maud who married  Lee Bethurim in Usk, Helen who married Joe Bell in Pacific, Winifred who married William Gardiner in Pacific and Ivy.  Their daughter Ivy also trained at the Prince Rupert General Hospital. Their son, George Alger, had Mount Alger on the Dease Lake highway and Alger Creek in the Bella Coola area  named after him.

Pierre LeRoss (born 1889) was the section foreman at Pacific from 1929 to 1939.  He lived there with his wife Roberta LeRoss (nee McLaren) and his son Pierre (born 1916) and daughters Aida (born 1921) and Betty (born 1921). They moved to Prince Rupert so the children could attend high school. He continued there as section foreman until he retired in 1956-7. He moved to Vancouver with his wife on retirement and died in 1964.

The Gardiners, the Dishers and the Barkers were also early residents who made Pacific their home for many years.

After Pacific’s last citizen, Nels Thompson, died in Terrace on August 18, 1972 at the age of 92, his property at Pacific (which was most of the town) was bought at an estate sale from the Crown by Doug Aberly for three thousand, two hundred dollars. He had dreams of bringing Pacific back to life with a colony of people living off the land, using alternate energy sources, and barter systems and thus becoming a self sufficient community.

I quote an article in the Smithers Interior News, written by Sheila Peters on May 28, 1977:

"Aberly emphasized that he is one of the group of Townspeople, for there are six people living in Pacific now. Signs of loving care are appearing on some of the buildings, most of which are broken down shells. An orchard has been planted and some gardens seeded.

But the Community Hall is as sturdy as can be and is decorated with Pacific memorabilia including such things as brass bedsteads, saw blades, and furniture worked together in delicate designs. Delightful arrangements of the town’s past worked to blend in with and add to the beauty of the present."

An article in the Victoria Times, in 1977, states – "B.C.’s first annual ghost town revival will be held in the abandoned and long forgotten community of Pacific, twenty-five miles northwest of Terrace on the Skeena River on May 20 – 22nd."

Quoting from Sheila Peters’ story again:

"Upon arrival all were greeted with welcoming shouts and the pleasing warmth of fires blazing beside the tracks. After passing through immigration we all entered the ground of the Northwest Nation, otherwise known as Pacific. Doug Aberly welcomed visitors with the following – "This weekend is a time to celebrate the revival of Pacific as a living, small community. As you can see there’s lots of work to do, but the potential is here and the folks that are starting to call Pacific home are more than capable." But people shared the miserable weather, the brief flashes of sunshine, dripping tents, and laughing music, west coast halibut, clams, and Skeena salmon, and for a weekend the sound of people filled the town."

The colonizing of Pacific has been less than successful and is just another chapter of broken dreams for that lonely site. It is a beautiful but isolated spot in the summer, but the winters are long and cold even for the hardy.

Jack and I hope some day to go to Prince Rupert and take the train to Pacific (the road is across the river). It cannot be anything but a sad visit with a lot of nostalgia.

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