Opening New Caledonia - Opening New Caledonia - Timeline 1916
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1916

Danger of fire was always high because wood stoves were used to heat homes and businesses. In winters where temperatures sunk to minus 55 degrees Fahrenheit, people tended to keep the stoves stoked around the clock. At the beginning of 1916, fire swept through George Street three nights in a row on January 10, 11 and 12, destroying the entire block between Second and Third Avenues. In that fire, the Fort George Herald newspaper and its equipment were destroyed. After that, the paper ceased publication, and the editor and publisher, Russell Walker, moved to Vancouver the following fall.

Before Russell Walker left Prince George, he decided to raffle his piano. He made up 250 tickets and determined that the price for each ticket would be the number on each one ┐ ranging from one cent to $2.50. Fifty years later, Walker recalled in an interview how Pat Patterson (who later served as mayor between 1927 and 1944) ┐howled like a wolf┐ when he paid $2.29 for his ticket. He ceased howling when he found out he actually won and became the happy owner of a Heintzman piano for such a bargain price!

In the months leading up to the provincial election in 1916, representatives of the government were sent out to register non-residents with the purpose of making them citizens in time to vote in the fall election. The process was long and arduous because people were scattered throughout the wilderness; finding them was only possible if one knew where the pockets of settlements were located.


The Province of British Columbia made Fort George an electoral district in 1916. The general election held September 14 that year attracted three candidates: Mayor W. G. Gillett for the Liberals; Hon. W. R. Ross, Minister of Lands in the Conservative government led by William Bowser; and John McInnis, a pioneer businessman, for the Socialist Party. Ross was elected to represent the region┐s Conservative Party in the Legislature. The Conservative government was defeated due to rising provincial debt and a Liberal government, led by the Hon. H. C. Brewster, was elected.

Baron Byng Elementary School was built to house the growing number of school-aged children. The school population exceeded its capacity in the first year. After a new elementary school was built, Baron Byng was used as the secondary school.



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