COLUMN: Nelson in October, 1967: End of a bad fire season and a mystery hole under the lake

Columnist Greg Scott on life in Nelson 50 years ago…

October 3, 1967

Weekend torrential rain brought an abrupt end to Nelson fire season. It came as a welcome relief to weary firefighters who faced renewed worry when fresh fires broke out during the past week. Rain and snow in some higher spots are rapidly extinguishing any remaining fires in the Nelson Forest District. Yesterday 38 fires were still burning, but the majority of them were in the mop-up stages. There were 38 Forest Service men employed in these operations and 13 industry men. The spokesman said: “Things look very good now. However, the situation will have changed by tomorrow once we have had a chance to find out how the weekend rain affected things.”

October 3, 1967

A student of Nelson Notre Dame University will make academic history here Sunday when he becomes the first student in Canada to graduate as a result of an athletic scholarship. Murray Owen, 24 year old hockey player with the Nelson Maple Leafs, is used to making history. He was the first student to receive a full time athletic scholarship when Notre Dame became the first Canadian university to offer such a program three years ago. Owen, whose home is Kamloops, will graduate at the University’s first fall convocation since receiving degree-granting status in 1963, and will receive his Bachelor of Arts degree.

October 24, 1967

A huge mystery hole beneath the surface of the West Arm, large enough to engulf the city hall with space left over to hold a two-story parking garage, has aroused the interest of City Council, its planners and engineers and the officers of Selkirk Health Unit. City Council has requested the health unit and the Water Rights Branch of the Provincial Government to launch studies to determine the source of the water found in a hole in the West Arm opposite Ross Point that measures 60-feet in depth by 150-feet in length and 100 feet wide. Existence of the hole was virtually unknown until studies of Federal Government sounding charts were made by city staff. There is a possibility that the hole signifies that a spring does exist there and if so the water could be pure enough for a municipal supply. If it was it would be a comparatively simple matter to cap the spring and pipe the water into the municipal system.

October 28, 1967

Two out of every three cars in Nelson are probably so unsafe that they shouldn’t be on the road. These are the frightening statistics produced by the city police spot safety checks and a recent provincial motor vehicle inspection in Nelson. What made them even more startling was the advent of winter.

Last week in an afternoon spot check, 43 of the 69 vehicles police flagged to a halt were found defective. In the government inspection, organized by the Motor Vehicle Branch, results were similarly disturbing. Sixty-seven per of the 466 cars tested were rejected by the examiners which included all the cars of 1951 vintage and before. City police will now be carrying out more spot safety checks in an effort to combat the menace of the unsafe cars. Warning tickets will be given out and if the repairs are not completed within 48 hours, the driver will be charged.

October 31, 1967

The Great Pumpkin may not descend on the Kootenays tonight but thousands of big and little trick or treaters certainly will. And in readiness for the invasion of the happy horde, area police are bringing an extensive “safe Halloween” plan into operation. Working beside the police will be firemen, and backing them up will be a small army of citizens beefing up the police patrols. Their main purpose will be to make sure there isn’t any vandalism. As well as making sure the Halloween spirit doesn’t go too far, police will keep a tight check on motorists.

It is illegal to let off fireworks other than in designated areas of Nelson. Parents can bring their children to three city parks where they will be properly supervised by firemen in letting off fireworks. Last year’s Halloween resulted in no serious incidents in the Kootenays and the police want it the same way this year.

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