8 October 2014

Walhachin: Birth of a Legend

WALHACHIN: Birth of a Legend
A new by Larry Jacobsen

Perched on the narrow lacustrine (lake-bed silts) flats overlain by unfriendly, bony topsoil, high above the Thompson River lies the remains of a hamlet known as Walhachin. It is wedged between the river and the sagebrush-covered southern uplands midway between Savona and Ashcroft and was aptly named for, in the Skeetchestn language, Walhachin meant stony ground. It might as easily have been called Hell’s Kitchen, for its late-May (1969) temperatures, when I twice checked them around 7:00 p.m., hovered at a hellish 104° F in the shade. I don’t know how hot it got out in the direct sunlight in the quarry. I do recall that I became thoroughly dehydrated every day and suffered from unquenchable thirst every evening.

Walhachin (pronounced: wal'-ha-sheen) was a Utopian orchard community, of more than 4,000-acres, situated in the Thompson River valley between Ashcroft and Savona. Conceived, planned, and built by Charles E. Barnes, an American Civil Engineer, relying on the financial backing of the British Columbia Development Association (BCDA), a British company, which marketed it to wealthy English families.

After a grand beginning it looked as though the project would live up to all that had been expected of it. A trickle of immigrants arrived in 1909, and by 1914, 180 enthusiastic residents and a labour force of similar size swelled the ranks. The Ashcroft and Kamloops news media forecast a glowing future for the village.

Utopias have had notoriously short shelf lives. They are created with the seeds of destruction inherent in them. In the legend of Camelot it was intrigue and treachery that did in King Arthur's court. At Walhachin it was in large part loyalty to the empire that, draining the village of manpower at a crucial time, sounded its death knell.
ISBN 978-09781640-3-4 204 pages - 9" x 7" landscape, hard cover (case bound)
Nearly 150 century-old photographs (50 full-page) plus many newer ones. Retail price: $24.95

Also by Larry Jacobsen: 

*Leaning Into The Wind: Memoirs of an Immigrant Prairie Farm Boy - 2004 (Authorhouse)
*Jewel of the Kootenays: The Emerald Mine 2008 (Published by the author and the Salmo Museum)
*Salmo Stories: Memories of a Place in the Kootenays, 2014 (Published by the author)

 Contact: Larry.Jacobsen@gmail.com

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