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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

#41 - Spuzzum

In the last postcard post, Jack's friend, Dick, was in Vernon, BC and headed to New Westminster to start his WWI journey to Europe.  On this card, we see he is travelling east toward Europe - but he hasn't gone too far, yet.  The card is from near Spuzzum, BC.

"SPUZZUM"??? you may ask.  What kind of word is Spuzzum???  According to Wikipedia, it may be a First Nations ("Indian" for those of you who don't reside in Canada, but First Nations is the term used here) word meaning "little flat."  It is the boundary between the Sto:lo and Nlaka'pamux peoples - just north of Hope, BC - often referred to as "beyond Hope." (Spuzzumites have had quite a sense of humour regarding their size and name).

To put it in the context of my experience, when I was younger, Spuzzum was a stop on the highway - a gas station and cafe.  Before the Coquihalla Highway (Highway 5) was put through in 1986, the Trans-Canada Highway was the main route we used to travel from Vernon to Vancouver - every year or two.  Here is a picture of what it used to look like (from the cars, I'd say late '70s, early '80s):

If I remember correctly, behind the photographer would be a rather steep hill going up, and behind the restaurant/gas station was a rather steep hill down to the river - but not too close, as there were some houses down there.  As we were driving through, my father would say "there's Spuzzum, don't blink or you'll miss it!"  And, to show their own humour, the hamlet had one sign which on both sides read "You are now leaving Spuzzum."  The other highway being put through must have really killed their business in the mid-80s.

In 2002 the gas station and restaurant burned down.  They were not re-built.  Here is what the spot looks like today:

This postcard was written to Jack's sister, Belle, and the text reads:  "On the train 9th Nov Hello Belle how are you getting along.  we are having a fine time with the girl's all along the line the weather is a bit cold here but every one is happy Dick".  A curious little note.  Not sure why he needed to tell Belle he was having fun with all the girls ...

The postmark is from Regina, Saskatchewan, so from this and the previous postcard, we can see where Dick has been (on a 1915 map of the railroads across Canada):

Remember, he started in Vernon, went to New Westminster (which is part of the Lower Mainland along with Vancouver and several other cities) and then got on the train headed east.

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