Mayor Lampman's speech honouring the Freemen and Freewomen of Lillooet

Editor's Note: The News is reprinting the full text of Mayor Marg Lampman's speech honouring the six citizens honoured Saturday with the Freedom of the Municipality. They have made a remarkable contribution to Lillooet and their efforts are worth noting in full:

 

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It is with great pleasure that we, as a community, gather to honor the District of Lillooet’s newest Freemen.

I met with all of the Freemen over the last few weeks, to gain a more intimate perspective of their lives in Lillooet and their longstanding contributions to our community. I found the experience inspiring and humbling; these six citizens have improved the lives of all of us who call Lillooet home, by volunteering their time, energy, enthusiasm and creativity to their community and to their fellow residents.

Bob and Stu Dew are a prime example of this. The young couple married in 1955 and moved to Lillooet in August, 1957. They initially lived in the Fraser Motel Cabins, but once they decided Lillooet was their future, they purchased property, built a home, started a small farm and raised a family.

Bob worked as a provincial assessor; his office was located in what is now Municipal Hall. He traveled up into the Chilcotin and was often on the road, but opted to become a teacher and stay home once he and Stu began a family. He taught math and science for 25 years and many Lillooet graduates have Mr. Dew stories from those years.

Bob became a member of the BC Lions, Lillooet Chapter and worked on numerous community projects, including Lillooet’s first pool, located where the REC Centre back parking lot is now. Hundreds of kids learned to swim in that pool.

He also worked on Conway ballpark and Red Rock Manor and volunteered for local fishing derbies, stock car races and numerous community events. He helped build the current curling rink and worked to convert the old high school into our REC Centre. While serving one term as Village Councillor and another term as our mayor, he worked on the village’s boundary expansion and downtown revitalization.

Bob has been a member of the Lions, the Curling Club, the REC Centre Board, Boy Scouts of Canada and is a long-time volunteer of the Canadian Cancer Society.

Behind every good man is an extraordinary woman and in Bob’s case, that woman is Stu. She was a stay at home mom to their son and daughter but once they finished school there was no holding her back.

She worked at CIBC, was school secretary when the elementary and high school were located at the current REC Centre site and worked in the BC Hydro office for nearly 20 years.

In her spare time, she served on the Lillooet Hospital Board, Ladies Auxiliary and St Andrew’s United Church and continues to volunteer with the Canadian Cancer Society, selling fund raiser daffodils and assisting cancer patients.  She was involved in the Girl Guides of Canada in-training program and the Lillooet Seniors Curing Club. Stu always stepped up when the Lions needed an extra hand and worked with her husband to turn the curling rink and REC Centre into reality.

Both Bob and Stu curled in bonspiels and played softball for Lillooet teams and were good will ambassadors for Lillooet everywhere they went.

Bob still has one project on his bucket list; to complete the Lions Trail that runs on the east side of the Fraser River, between the two bridges. While he and the Lions Club built major sections of the trail, that is enjoyed by tourists and locals alike, there are still a few obstacles on the path before Bob can put that project to rest.

Thank you Bob and Stu, for all the hard work you have done on behalf of your community.

***

And then there is Noel Baker. Where to even start! Talk about living a full life and, lucky for us, remembering all the details!

Noel grew up on the prairies and joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1944. When he was discharged in 1946, his uncle John told him to take a look at the Gold Country. This version of Go West Young Man Go West resonated with Noel and, after visiting Lillooet in the summer of 1948, he moved here the following year.

Noel worked with Wiedenbruck, out in the bush, and was also cutting cords of wood at the tomato cannery during the winter. During this time he came up with the idea of opening a second hand store in Lillooet and Baker and Fraser Furnishings was born. His first storefront was located where Toonie Town is now, where he paid $15 a month rent, and his new store opened in 1954.

To round out his business empire, Noel bought the taxi business from Sammy Jones. He ran passengers and freight between Lillooet and Lytton, which in those days took two hours one way. The run to Vancouver took seven hours one way. Crowbars and shovels were standard equipment, to get the Stage Lines through the rocks and slides along the way.

Lillooet’s Royal Canadian Legion was formed in 1926 to assist World War One veterans. By the time Noel got to Lillooet, the Legion was the social centre of Lillooet. He became involved early on, and is one of the few remaining veterans of that era and continues to be a staunch support of the Legion. He recalls the Legion owning the Log Cabin Theatre, and showing feature movies in what was once, during the gold rush, a camel barn.

Noel can tell a really good story and that comes in handy when he volunteers as auctioneer for the Legion, the Lions and any other community club that needs a fast talker. Over the years he raised thousands of dollars for good causes and gave everyone great entertainment in the process.

Noel is a Charter Member and Honorary Member of the Lillooet Volunteer Fire Department. He helped raise funds for the curling club and the fire hall and helped build the first original fire hall on Main Street, where our current fire hall now sits. The building was built on the cheap, with old bridge ties and recycled material and volunteer labour.

Always an entrepreneur, Noel recalls moving four summer cabins from the Blue Pool Resort at the confluence of Seton River and Cayoosh Creek and setting them up on Columbia Street, just above Hangman’s Park. The cabins continued to provide accommodation well into the 1990s.

Noel’s son Dan passed away several years ago. His daughter Linda is following in her dad’s footsteps with a consignment and furniture store on Main Street, behind the Mile 0 Cairn.

Noel Baker exemplifies Lillooet’s colorful past and its hard working, entrepreneurial future. Thank you, Noel, for all your contributions.

***

There is no doubt, when the subject of the Lillooet Elks Lodge #467 comes up, one name springs immediately to mind. Thor Davidson has been a member of the Lillooet Elks Club for 52 years!

Thor and his wife Tula came to Lillooet in 1957, nearly 60 years ago. The young couple met and married in Steinkjer, Norway in 1943, when they were 20. The young couple decided Canada was a good place to live their lives and raise a family. Thor worked on the DEW Line toward the end of the Second World War, before settling in the Lillooet area. Thor is a master carpenter and he quickly found work with BC Electric (Now BC Hydro), working as the head carpenter building the tunnel through Mission Mountain, in the Bridge River Valley above Mission Dam. The dam was later named Terzaghi, for an engineer who designed it.

Thor had the chance to move to San Diego, USA but, while he and Tula waited for their immigration papers to go through, they fell in love with Lillooet. Dan Diego’s loss was Lillooet’s gain.

Tula and Thor raised four children in Lillooet. Greta passed away last year, Carl is in Penticton, Jenny lives in Kamloops and Erick remains in Lillooet, where he raises his family and works for the District of Lillooet.

Thor’s talent as a carpenter kept him busy throughout his working years, working for Evans Products, building Cayoosh Elementary School, working on the Bridgeside plant’s construction, volunteering during the construction of the curling rink after the first rink burned down, building his own home and a couple other houses around town.

Thor and his wife opened up a business on the Hop Farm, in the 1970s, and called it T and T Building Supplies. T and T Road bears their name.

However, the project nearest and dearest to his heart was the Elks Hall on the Hop Farm, in North Lillooet.

The Elks Lodge in Lillooet was instituted in 1961 and initially held their meetings in Lillooet’s community hall, which was located where the basketball and skate board park now sits. However, the Lodge wanted its own home and fundraising began for property and construction on the Hop Farm. Thor found two large trailers for sale at the dam site, used to house construction workers. The Elks purchased the trailers and installed them on top of the poured foundation for the Lodge and the Elks Hall as we know it came to life.

The Hall and the ground around it became an important focus for the Lillooet community. Over the years the Elks have hosted countless pancake breakfasts, barbeques, dances, meetings, bingos, weddings, family gatherings, memorial services, Christmas Dinners, Easter Egg hunts – you name it, the Elks have done it and Thor has rarely missed a one.

The premier event that the Elks host is the annual May Day Parade. Thor and his wife Tula and daughter Greta were constant volunteers for the celebration, assisting with the parade, May Pole Dancing, games for the kids and trophies for the parade entries.

Ever since 1967, the Elks welcome Lillooet’s first baby of the year, with gifts and goodies. They contribute to the Purple Cross Fund and help children who are in need of medical assistance. While the entire Lodge contributes to the Elks’ hard work, generosity and community spirit in Lillooet, Thor has consistently been involved in all Lodge activities and his beloved Lillooet community.

One of the letters nominating Thor for this honor was particularly moving and I’d like to add a sentence from it. “Thor always did, and still does, treat folks of all colour, religion and life styles with the greatest respect and as equals.”

Thank you, Thor. I’m sorry your wife Tula and daughter Greta aren’t here to share your day, but your entire Lillooet community honors you. You exemplify everything the Elks stand for and everything that makes living in Lillooet precious and heartwarming.

***

Aggie and Arnold Malm are simply amazing people. Their energy and commitment to each other and their beloved Lillooet is inspiring. And they show very little sign of slowing down.

Aggie was born in Vancouver in 1930 and, pursuing a career as a teacher, moved to Lillooet in 1955. She met Arnold, who followed a family tradition of working on the railway – the Pacific Great Eastern as it was known at the time - and he had the great good sense to marry her in 1957.

As a grade 7 and 8 teacher, Aggie also taught Physical Education and took on numerous extra-curricular activities with her students. She also volunteered with the Girl Guides of Canada in a number of roles. Her love of the arts is a common thread throughout her life, as she taught folk dancing to kids of all ages, including night classes for adults. Her students were very successful participants in the Yale-Cariboo Music Festival, which later became the Kamloops Festival of the Performing Arts.

In the winters, Arnold was busy building skating rinks for the neighborhood kids at Conway Park. Aggie bought skates for everyone to use and share and taught them basic skating skills. Sometimes the fun moved indoors to the old curling rink, where the entire community came out to play.

Aggie served as volunteer secretary and member of the Lillooet Recreation Committee for several years,  and belonged to the Hospital Auxiliary, organizing white elephant sales and Snowball Cabarets to raise funds for the hospital.

Sitting on the Pool Committee, she helped with fundraising bingos, raffles, talent concerts, bottle drives etc, and worked with Barbara Hancock to put on the St. Johns’ Altar Society talent shows. In her spare time, while raising four children, she made and donated costumes to the Lillooet Secondary School’s Drama Club. Aggie donated costumes to the skating club and assisted with lighting for the skating club’s annual shows.

Aggie was the Red Cross representative for several years and was a charter member of Lillooet’s Chapter #94 Order of the Eastern Star. She was honored with a 50 year member certificate from the Grand Chapter of BC and Yukon last year.

When you drive down Main Street, you’ll see several examples of Aggie’s artwork; she continues to volunteer on the Banner project, painting golfers, cowgirls and Old Bridge bats.

Born the same year as Aggie, Arnold’s first career and other love was the railway. He worked in Squamish and Williams Lake before moving to Lillooet. He was given a leave of absence for three years to serve with the Royal Canadian Air Force, stationed in eastern Canada, Germany and Morocco.

Working on the railway for more than 40 years, beginning as a youngster packing ice onto the Pacific Great Eastern trains, becoming a hogger and eventually teaching other engineers, Arnold concluded his railway career as a General Foreman of Locomotive Engineers, retiring from BC Rail in 1986.

Arnold has served on the Lillooet Hospital Board, Fall Fair Committee, Rod and Gun Club, the Flying Club and assisted Aggie with her various committees and projects. The couple have been hosts to Canada World Youth participants from India, Malaysia, Jamaica, Uruguay and Canada.

Arnold served a term as Alderman and later as Mayor of Lillooet, promoting construction of the Bridge of the 23 Camels and the Municipal Airport.

The Nikku National Museum and Cultural Centre of Burnaby contacts Arnold each year, so he can share his memories of the East Lillooet Japanese Internment Camp with tour participants.

Aggie and Arnold are avid travellers, with a special affection for Cuba, where they have been nine times, studying various kinds of farming and sharing information with the locals.

Arnold and Aggie donated land in East Lillooet for Lillooet’s first Airport, Lions’ Rodeos and the Riding Club gymkhanas. Thirty five years ago, they started clearing that land; the beginning of the Old Airport Gardens. The couple is still active in the gardens, helping their son Bobby, daughter in law Monica and their grandchildren run the family business, which is justly famous for its Lillooet tomatoes.

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