“There were a lot of people in town who liked the outdoor lifestyle,” explains Joan Saunders, “and that’s still the case. But once we moved in, for us, and for other people too, there were so many places you could go! Things you could see and do!”
Camping, fishing, sledding on the local hills, and cross-country skiing were popular for many of the new residents. Joan recalls cross-country skiing with her friends. “We always used to go on the old logging roads and follow skidoo tracks. Outdoor activities were always a pretty big part of town. A lot of the people had skidoos and ATVs and you just went from your door.”
Reg Malmas had a side business selling snowmobiles when he still lived in Pine Point, Northwest Territories so he set up his business in Logan Lake and brought snowmobiles in for people. A snowmobile club was soon formed.
“We had a big club,” Sheron Malmas remembers, “there must have been 30 or 40 of us. Everybody was pretty well the same age, so everybody had kids who were the same age so it made it good for meeting people.”
Reg remembers going out in the bush for wiener roasts with all of the families. “There must have been 40 of us.”
Sheron and Reg recall that John Boh, Logan Lake’s RCMP officer at the time, let residents ride snowmobilies and ATVs right from their houses. “We could ride on the streets, literally, early on. We had approval as long as nobody did bad things like roaring up and down the streets to get out of town. So you didn’t have to load the snowmobiles,” Reg explains.
“The kids,” Sheron remembers, “would go snowmobiling around the lake.”
Whenever there is a group of people someone always rises to the top as a natural organizer. In Logan Lake, that person in the early days was Bill Maggs. Although he wasn’t among the first 100 families to move to town, he arrived soon after and almost immediately began leaving his mark on the community. Before Logan Lake had a recreation centre, they had outdoor rinks orchestrated by Bill Maggs.
“He was the fire chief at Lornex,” recalls Willis McBride, “and he was very active wherever he lived. He’d do anything for the kids and he knew everything there was at the mine. When he needed enough material to build an outdoor skating rink there was a lot of the material up at the mine that had served its purpose and it was available so he’d have all he wanted and a truck too. The rink was built right across from where he lived on the corner where the original cenotaph is now.”
Once the recreation centre was built then curling, hockey, figure skating, and even ringette were popular activities. Until then, however, many residents travelled to Merritt or Ashcroft to curl or play hockey.
When curling started, Sheron Malmas remembers she had never seen a curling rock but ended up being the third on a team. She also remembers bonspiels where they had upwards of 19 people staying at their house, coming from all over to curl, because there wasn’t enough room in the hotels.
“I remember that first bonspiel,” laughs Willis McBride, “we curled all night! At 3 o’clock in the morning nobody cared who won. Probably both teams lost. But then with the mixed teams and so on, it’s pretty well always been an active curling rink.”
When it came to indoor activities all the community action was focused on the elementary school gym which had been built by the mine to be used as a community centre. Many original residents comment about the plaque that used to hang in the gym indicating it was built for the town to use.
“The school organized stuff too,” Joan explains. “We always had big Christmas concerts.”
The gym was used by local churches, brownies, girl guides, scouts, and classes. Giselle Aichele remembers teaching Stretch and Sew sewing with the materials provided by Cariboo College. Reg and Sheron Malmas and many others were involved in the square dance club. One thing the gym was particularly known for was dances. Many parties and dances were held in the gym, including the annual Firemen’s ball every November.
On a smaller scale, however, groups of friends would get together for card games, parties, and progressive dinners which were extremely popular.
Room to Roam
For the kids in town, the outdoor spaces and lack of traffic made for an endless playground. Keith Munro moved to Logan Lake with his family when he was four and although his family moved away briefly, he grew up in the town and later returned with his wife, Elaine, who also grew up in Logan Lake, to raise their family.
Keith remembers the best parts of growing up in Logan Lake. “Having the freedom to roam around in the bush,” he recalls, “we did a lot of that. Just biking around town. Putting your fishing rod in your backpack and going down to say, where the ranch is and going fishing there or going the other way to Tunkwa to fish in the lake.”
When asked about the range the kids had for how far away they could explore, Keith responds with a grin. “Supper! It was how far you could go and still make it home for supper! That was our range.”
“Pretty much back then the kids made their own fun … you know they’d go sliding off of Larson’s Hill, tear around on the skidoos,” Willis McBride reminisces.
Joan Saunders recalls her son, Leslie, having a motorbike. “Every kid his age had a motorbike. And they just went,” she says.
Ken Munro, Keith’s dad, agrees, “eventually we got a motorbike for Keith and he learned to drive it. He’d be gone and you wouldn’t see him for the better part of the day or the evenings. There was that freedom of just going. And there was just that freedom of being able to do what they wanted. To go and do it.”
“We used to spend a lot of time out in the woods,” Keith agrees, “building forts and as you got older, they got more elaborate. I remember, I don’t think I was a teenager yet but, going out with a few friends with a big swede saw and cutting down trees and building small log cabins.”
In town the kids organized their own games, playing hockey on the outdoor ice rink that Bill Maggs had built or playing street hockey. “We’d play street versus street,” Keith remembers. “Opal Drive would play Amber Drive. We lived on the top of Amber, and so we would do everything together. We’d have legendary games of hide and seek, with upwards of a dozen of us, that would last for hours. And we’d use the whole park that’s in between Amber and Galena and just the whole neighbourhood would be one giant hide and go seek field.”
When asked about whether this way of growing up was something he and the other kids appreciated, Keith doesn’t hesitate. “Yeah, I really did. It was appreciated. It was kind of a rustic lifestyle but just being able to do the basic things that a kid would enjoy. You know, jumping on a bike and going wherever. It was nice to go to Kamloops and go to a movie or something like that but it was always nice to come home.”