Opening New Caledonia - Opening New Caledonia - Timeline 1969
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1969

A welcome spring announcement by the Bank of British Columbia came that the bank would begin building a one-story branch on Third Avenue. Local businesses had hoped that it include retail space, but this was not in the plans. The floor space was expected to range between 3,000 and 4,000 square feet. With a parking lot outside that could accommodate 20 cars.

The 3,200 member local of the 1-424 International Woodworkers of America (IWA) mourned the loss of their President, James Ross Inglis, who died at the age of 46. His advice was valued by the Prince George and District Labour Council and he had a reputation as a dedicated representative and hard worker. Both the management of forest companies and the Northern Interior Lumbermen's Association expressed their respect for his ability at the bargaining table and his able negotiating skills during his six years as IWA President. He died of a heart attack during the first week of June.

By mid-June, a severe drought hit northern British Columbia, and Prince George suffered a record heat wave and weeks without rainfall. Sixty fires were burning in the Prince George forest district. Farms had suffered drought damage. City residents were urged to conserve water and restrict sprinkling lawns and gardens.

Ted Williams, Northern Regional Scout Commissioner, was named Citizen of the Year by the Prince George Rotary Club. Mr. Williams was also a leader with the local Historical Society and with Knox Church.

Prospectors Stan Porayko and Larry Owen caused excitement with the announcement of their major find. On July 9, 1969 they discovered high quality nephrite jade 200 miles north of Prince George on Mount Ogden. Taking a different route on one trip down the mountain, the prospectors literally stumbled over the outcropping at the 5,000 foot level. They realized they were standing on a mountain of jade, the value of which was estimated at $40 million. A quantity of jade estimated at more than 100 tons was removed over a two-year period.

Campaigning for the 1969 provincial election offered a chance to showcase the economic development of the area. The Hon. Ray Williston-the candidate for the riding of Fort George-was the Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources in the Bennett government. He listed examples of industrial growth in northern B.C. "Right now industry is actually building or finalizing the planning for approval of two pulp mills at Mackenzie, a cedar-specialty plat at McBride, an integrated veneer-sawmill complex at Fort St. James, a sawmill-pulp mill at Houston, a sawmill, pulp and paper complex at Kitimat, a larger close-utilization plant at Quesnel, a veneer plant at Prince George, and an integrated timber treatment close-utilization plant at Dawson Creek." In his victory speech, Mr. Williston said that he interpreted his win as "a direct endorsation of our policy of opening up the northern areas of the province".

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