Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - September 22, 1971, Lethbridge, Alberta
36 THE lETHBHOGE HERALD Wedneiday, September 52, 1971 Road back lo Ghost town being restored Lr> SANDON, B.C. (CP) Dur- ing ils hey-day Ihe mining town of Sandon boasted 23 ho- tels with Silicons, two news- papers, two railways, and a r e cl -1 i g h t district just- far enough from downtown to please the town's matrons. It was a boom-town nour- ished bv the dreams of men who soiight thuir fortunes in the silver-laden hills sur- rounding the town. Rut as the dreams faded the once-proud town sank into decay and des- olation. Now it may regain some of its glory Ihroiifih the efforts of a youiig British Columbian who has a love for the history of his province. Sandon is DI) miles north of Nelson. Twenly-ninc-year-Dld Bill Barlee has set about restoring the ghost town in the moun- tainous southeastern region of B.C. He has bought three of the town's buildings and has begun the painstaking task of repairing the now fragile structures. Mr. Barlee's involvement with the town came after he wrote sn article on it last year in the historical maga- zine. Canada West, which he published. After reading the article many history enthusi- asts visited Sandon. MADE DECISION Some wrote him saying that hippies were tearing down some of the old buildings to get lumber to build commune buildings elsewhere. He made another visit to Ihe old city. It was all true. "I had to make a he says. "I could get in my car and drive out of there and never go back, and it wouldn't cost me a penny. Or I could fight to stop the destruction, and bring the old town back to something like it was be- fore. "Hemember, of the 100, more or less, old towns of the early days very few are left. Sandon was the big hard-rock mining town, the king of the silver towns. And it was there, in its rough shape, but still there. "I decided that I had to try lo save it. Do what I could. Arid I had to do it soon. It's been around for more than 60 years, but what there is left is going fast. Looters. Vandals. And time." The town had perma- nent residents about 1898. It burned down in Hay, 1900, and it was decided to move the main street a few yards south lo Carpenter Creek. The creek was boarded over and Sandon became unique with its main street over a creek. Later, the bottom dropped out of the silver market. San- don went info decline. It stag- gered along with 100 or so res- idents. In 1M2, the federal govern- ment, as part of a controver- sial wartime measure, relo- cated several hundred Japa- nese-born Canadians in S'an- don. With its one road access and Us isolation, it became an internment camp without barbed wire or guards. After the war, the town kept sliding downhill. Then, in the spring of 1055, exceptionally heavy winter snows were melted by a strong thaw ajid Carpenter Creek erupted and destroyed the main drag. The 30 people who were liv- ing here then knew the town was doomed. History buff Barlee has some definite ideas about how he is going to go about restor- ing the town. "Trouble with most re- created ghost towns is that they are not ghost towns. They are ghost towns which have been brought back Lo what they looked like when they were real towns. "Not here. It's going lo have a look of decay. Some of the junk is going to lie around. I'll leave it in a state of semi-decay. "People will feel they're in a ghost lown. No slirubs, no composite buildings, no paint, no spic-and-span." Money is one of Mr. Bar- lee's biggest challenges if he is to realize his ambitions. He has so far spent of his money on the project. Be- sides publishing Canada West he has written several books on B.C. history which provide him with additional income. Rebuilding part of Main Street with seven buildings, restoring some cabins and the cemetery, as well as estab- lishing a 1900-vintage railway to an abandoned silver mine a few miles away, he figures will cost He and another history en- thusiast, Laurie Hedley, have formed Canada West Sandon Restoration Ltd. Mr. Hedley will leave the restoring of the town to Mr. Barlee and will concentrate on raising the money. They plan to make then- restoration project a commer- cial operation but they hope only to break even. Mr. Barlee expects to put another of his money into the kitty during the next five years and the rest, they hope, will come from selling shares to the public. Russian seaman hopeful of becoming a Canadian QUEBEC (CP) Sergei Kourdakov, the young Russian naval trainee who swam to the British Columbia shore from a Russian trawler Sept. 3, said Monday he hopes to eventually become a Canadian citizen. He told a news conference he has received a letter from the Russian Orthodox bishop in Ot- tawa which said a federal min- ister promised the young sailor his freedom. The fair-haired, muscular 20- year-old was speaking through an interpreter who translated his remarks into French. After he jumped from the trawler, swam for eight miles through stormy seas and climbed a 200-foot cliff in dark- ness and driving rain, he reached the village of Tasu Bay, B.C. He was Liken to Prince Ru. pert, B.C., and three days later to Vancouver. After another three days he was sent to the Canadian Immigration Deten- tion Centre at Wolfe's Cove here. He told journalists that in the eight days he has been in Quebec, immigration officials have interrogated him for a total of 48 hours "to learn all about me." He also had to fill out a questionnaire. He said the journalists asked nearly the same questions dur- ing the two-hour interview. HAS MEMBERSHIP CARD Kourdakov said he still has his membership card in the Communist Youth card that all young Soviets must have." lie also had several pho- tographs showing the way he lived. He carried all his personal ef- fects with him in a plastic sack strapped around his waist dur- ing the five-hour swim from the fishing trawler to the shore. "I do not believe in the funda- mentals of Kour- dakov said. "The lenders of the regime keep preaching communism, but it is duly words." Me Mid he regretted that Pre- mier Nikita Khrushchev did not follow up on his promise, in I960, that the Soviet govern- ment would build up the mate- rial base of communism. "Lenin said our children would live in a communist Kourdakcv said. But, he added, "the children of our gen- eration do not live in it." He said congresses of the Communist Party were "theat- rical presentations, rather than opportunities to develop differ- ent thoughts." "In the U.S.S.R.. it is forbid- den to believe in God. Thus the youth neither believe in God nor in he said. He said Russian youth will be the origin of the deep moral cri- sis in Russia. Russian society was as corrupt "as any in the West." YOUNG LACK IDEAL "The young he said, "have no ideal in life: Commu- nism promises us something in the intangi- before, Ihe Chris- tian faith got us to do some good." The young sailor said he had planned his escape for three years. Much of his desire lo escape was fed by the works of pro- gressive Russian authors, and when the works of his favorite writer, Alexander Snlzhenitsyn, were banned, he got them in manuscript form from friends. He said Voice of America broadcasts on short-wave radio gave him some contact with the West. Kourdakov's father died when I'.e was six and his mother four years laler. lie has two brothers but does not kimu- where lliev are. lie graduated from Kam- chatka Marine rnsl.il.iile in the eastern U.S.S.R. in 1068. 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