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

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

From Gusville to Gateway in Forest Grove

In 1943, a young Finnish immigrant came to the Cariboo.

In 1943, a young Finnish immigrant came to the Cariboo to visit friends who were working at sawmills scattered throughout the forests in the 100 Mile House area.

Gus Anderson knew this was where he needed to be.

There was work everywhere. Anderson would later say he did everything from ranch work to painting most of the houses in Forest Grove because, as he said, he had the only paint sprayer in this part of the Cariboo.

“When I saw all these loggers and their families moving up here, I told people I was going to build houses for them to rent. I would have no worries about getting renters,” he said.

“So in 1946, I bought a quarter section of land on the Forest Grove Road, about five miles from the highway, where Kennedy Road is now. Then I added more quarter sections until I had 800 acres. I logged some with horses and then I got a logging tractor. I leased out some land for hay. I built my own house on Bridge Creek, and most of my other properties made first-class building lots too.

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“The Jens brothers came here with a great big boiler and started a mill out at Canim Lake so there was lumber to build with. I would build all frame houses. I could get excellent quality wood from the Auld mill in Forest Grove and from Gordon Graham’s mill at Ruth Lake.”

The houses Andersen built were filled as soon as they were finished. In the first years, he and his renters carried water directly from the creek.

“After a number of years I put in a tap by my house and they all got their water there,” he said. “After two or three years after that I had water lines put into 22 or 23 properties and I had my own water system. In 1957 the electricity came through.”

By that time the thriving community was known as Gusville.

Andersen put in two streets from Kennedy Road that go up to a long street he built on the slope above. He explained how this street became part of Canim-Hendrix Lake Road.

“The original road to Forest Grove is called Kennedy Road now. That road I built up above was ready-made by my own hands, all graded and gravelled. Then two engineers got in touch with me and asked me to sell that upper bit that was so well done for a long distance. So I sold it to the government and it is now the main road.”

Andersen expanded the rental properties he built in 100 Mile House. In 1957 he acquired a lot from the town council for the construction of a church and put in the foundation for the building. He is credited with naming the new church Bethel Chapel, now the Hillside Community Church.

Until 1975 Andersen continued to work. Then he did a remarkable thing. He decided to sell Gusville. He put the entire village on the market for $76,000.

“For this,” the ad stated. “you get 45 acres, 10 houses, tools, a tractor, and a water system. About 14 acres of this land is by the lovely Bridge Creek. All the houses are rented now and there is never any problem with empty houses in this area.”

All of the properties were sold. Andersen kept his own house.

Eventually, a family named Burrows bought the Gusville store and cafe on the corner before Kennedy Road. The building is still there, along with one next door that was a gas station. They called their business Gateway.

In time the name Gusville faded. Perhaps the Burrows thought their spot was a gateway to the extraordinary places that lay beyond.

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