O, it was cold in Princeton,
It was 51 below;
Hedley, she marked 40,
Besides three feet of snow
The sun shines in the valley
And makes a warm glow,
For it ne’er gets down to zero
In Keremeos below.
So said an early settler in the Similkameen valley back in 1907. To hear this and other voices of our pioneers come to the Keremeos Seniors’ Centre on Monday, October 17 at 2 p.m. where Jon Bartlett and Rika Ruebsaat will be launching their new book of songs and poems made up by Similkameen Valley pioneers. The book, entitled Dead Horse on the Tulameen: Settler Verse from B.C.’s Similkameen Valley, brings the abandoned mines and ghost towns of the area back to life as voices from the grave tell their stories in verse. These voices lay silent for decades until Jon and Rika discovered them. Like prospectors panning for gold, the authors sifted through the fragile pages of old newspapers going back to 1900 until they hit “paydirt” in the form of poems about daily life in the Similkameen valley — how did it feel to leave the fields and hedgerows of England and come to the B.C wilderness? What tools did our early miners use? Why did it take so long for the railway to come to the Similkameen?
At this presentation Jon and Rika will answer some of these questions by singing songs and reciting poetry made up by Similkameen valley pioneers. The songs and poems together with projected historical photographs as well as Jon and Rika’s historical narrative will paint a vivid picture of pioneer life in the valley.
Admission to the presentation is free. Copies of the book will be for sale at the presentation – they make great Christmas gifts!
– By Jon Bartlett and Rika Rubesaat