Marianne Van Osch (Patrick Davies, 100 Mile Free Press photo)

100 Mile: From quiet town to ‘mini-metropolis’

Marianne Van Osch column: Progress not always supported

People who have lived in 100 Mile House for some time are surprised at how their peaceful little town of familiar faces, quiet stores and readily available services has suddenly become a bustling mini-metropolis.

Apparently, the feeling of too many too fast was also an issue with some townsfolk in the late ’70s. George Baloc was one of those who became disgruntled with progress.

Baloc first visited the Cariboo on a hunting trip in 1951. “I liked the territory,” he said. “It was a bit on the rough side. Just a couple of houses, a little store and Herbie Auld’s garage. There was the old Lodge building and that was it.

“I stayed on and was talked into taking on a log contract for a mill with another guy. We went out and got a bunch of horses and logged for a winter. Rolling logs and doing everything by hand is hard work. So is trying to work horses in very cold weather and taking care of them. So I bought machinery and stayed with logging from then on.”

In 1953, Baloc brought his new wife Eileen, who was a city girl from England, to 100 Mile. After a short stay at the Lodge, they set up housekeeping in a cabin on Tatton Road.

“It was very crude,” Mrs. Baloc said. “We patched it up and hung a few curtains and it was home. We were overrun by mice who were so cheeky. You’d swat at them and they’d just sit there and laugh at you. I saw my first ever snake and heard my first coyote. I thought someone was being murdered.

“I was used to going to theatres but in time we started going to dances and the Clinton Ball. Orchestras were hired from Vancouver. One night Evan Kemp played and it was lots of fun, an all-night bash.”

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In 1955, the Balocs decided that they would like to have a house in 100 Mile where lots were being laid out.

“We were among the first who decided to build there,” Baloc said. “I knew the block I was going to be in but it hadn’t been surveyed yet. So Ross Marks and I took a tape and measured out where we thought the house would sit. It was a lease lot, $3.50 a month on a 20-year lease.

“Al Blackstock framed in the house and we’d work on it in the evenings. The tradesmen weren’t too good at the time. You’d hire the fellow that had the tools. Plumbing was done by any guy who had the equipment. I’ll never forget our plumber hooking up my hot water system. He ran a pipe right across the corner of the kitchen wall. He said it would make a handy place to hang towels!

“Our electricity was supplied by a diesel plant that belonged to Bridge Creek Estates. The water came from an old pipeline from a spring in back of the Lodge. Later a new system brought it out of Bridge Creek itself.

“During the ’50s, things were really happening. We built the community hall. Everyone donated something to it. The sawmill I was working for provided studs and planer work. Even the trucking was donated. Another project was the Fire Department. We started off with a McCullough pump on a sleigh. We’d hook it to the two standpipes in town. And we had a curling club. We had two barrels and everyone was asked to bring hot water for the ice.”

In 1972, the Balocs moved to Reita Crescent, off Horse Lake Road. In 1977, Mrs. Baloc explained why. “When I first came to 100 Mile I wished for a lot more people and a lot more activities, but now that we have them, I’m not sure that I like the confusion much. But I can’t complain. I’m very quiet now way out here.”

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