Christmas in Cranbrook, 1965

Half a century ago, Cranbrook was poised for a number of changes

“The Funtouchables” – just one of many nightclub acts to perform at the Stop & Go Inn.

“The Funtouchables” – just one of many nightclub acts to perform at the Stop & Go Inn.

Jim Cameron

In December, half a century ago, Cranbrook was poised for a number of changes that would result by the early 1970s in a city that looks much more like it does today than that of days gone by.

For the moment, however, the Cranbrook Mall had not yet dropped its fat foundation directly across Baker Street, rubbing out a city park in the process. The charming old Royal Bank had not yet been replaced by the new, the YMCA/Armoury still stood sentinel at the west end of Baker Street and the highway still came through the business district past a clock tower that was still attached to a Post Office.

Crestbrook lumber mill and the old airport took up much of the area to the east side of what would soon become “The Strip,” and the St. Eugene Hospital was still the hub of medicine in the district.

The population stood at around 7,000 and would continue to grow, forcing the city to expand its borders to the east and south in addition to the construction of apartment blocks throughout the residential area.

The weather for the first half of December, 1965, was, on average, 1.3 degrees F. warmer during the day and 3.1 degrees F. cooler during the night than 2015. There was snow on the ground from a heavy snowfall in late November and there would be a great deal more snow arrive in late December — 28 inches of the wet and heavy stuff — cancelling flights, closing the sixteen month-old Skyway (Salmo-Creston) Pass and generally making a nuisance of itself.

Still, by 1965, many homes had televisions to help pass the long winter nights. TV shows premiering that year included Lost in Space, Hogan’s Heroes, Get Smart, I Dream of Jeannie, The Wild Wild West, Green Acres, I Spy, Days of Our Lives, F Troop and The FBI. Top music hits of December included: We Can Work it Out by the Beatles, Turn, Turn! Turn! Turn! by the Byrds, I Hear A Symphony by the Supremes, and Sounds of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel while the top box office releases were Thunderball  and Dr. Zhivago,

The final week of November saw the deaths of three people in three separate automobile accidents, two from out of town and Gilbert “Gib” Parker of Cranbrook, age 18, who was a passenger in a two-car collision on the corner of 5th Avenue and 3rd Street, the first vehicle fatality in the city in four years. Safe-driving week began a few days afterwards. The Senior Citizens Club, boasting over 200 members, enjoyed their annual turkey banquet, the Courier stating that “members range from 92 and up and members as young as 12 years…with Mrs. McBurney the oldest at age 88.”

The yearly municipal election, held on December 11, saw Mayor George Haddad (returned to a third term by acclamation) head up a city council consisting of Ed Delamont, Eddie Leonard,  J.S. “Bus” Johnston, Dave Bjerstedt, Don Sherling and Sam McLeary. 1,032 ballots were cast in the election, the 35.7 percent voting turnout among the lowest in the history of the city. Aside from the upcoming issues of a new hospital, airport, post office, industrial park (a priority for the Chamber of Commerce) and a downtown mall. A major concern was the local water supply. Chamber of Commerce civic affairs committee chairman Don DeBuysscher bluntly declared, “The water tastes like hell and smells worse.”

Joe Sherbo, proprietor of the Stop & Go Inn, began importing “professional nightclub acts” — singers, dancers, musicians, comedians — to perform in the restaurant, at times backed by local musicians Bud Dunlop, Stewart Taylor, Maurice Mackay and Doug Kerr as “The Blue Notes.”

The annual Festival of Christmas Music took place in the Mt. Baker High School Gymnasium, now (more or less) the lobby of the Key City Theatre. Sponsored by the Cranbrook Teacher’s Association and Cranbrook Rotary, the festival featured over 500 voices from eleven local choirs.

Boy Scouts sold Christmas trees for $1.00 each in the empty lot next to the old Post Office, the Scandinavian Sisters planned holiday dances and banquets at the Blue Bird Inn, Swanson’s Men’s Wear actually sold wear for men while a Lyon’s Shoe Store advertisement read: Christmas Booty for All Ages.

On the afternoon of Saturday, December 18, Santa Claus once again hitched a ride on the fire truck for a tour of the town. Sponsored by the Kinsmen Club he ended the journey at 1:30 p.m. outside Mt. Baker School where he handed out goodies to Cranbrook youngsters.   There were a number of letters to Santa in the newspaper that year.

One young lad wrote, “Dear Santa: I would like these toys: Trik Trak, 8 games in one, Martian Magic, Monopoly, Strategy, Football. I would also like Jet Putt Golf, Rock’em Sock’em and Popeye’s Punch Me. My sister would like a long toque for skiing. My mother wants jewelry. My other brother wants some tie tacks. My dad wants a garage door shutter which is approximately $149.49. I don’t think he will get it. Good luck at Christmas. Please may I have these toys Yours Truly, Ron Webb.”

Did Santa come through? Did young Ron receive all that he sought? Like much of Cranbrook’s history the answers are shrouded in the mists of time. But that was Cranbrook then and this is Cranbrook now and Janus sincerely wishes the best for you and yours over the holidays. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
104 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

IH is reporting the new numbers since Friday, Nov. 20

The City of Cranbrook is gearing up winter plowing operations. Townsman file photo.
City gearing up winter snow plow operations

Winter has arrived in Cranbrook. Following recent snowfalls in the region, the… Continue reading

Pictured is the Cranbrook gravel pit, located between two graveyards near the public works yard. This is where two lost kids were located by a Salvador Ready Mix driver on Thursday, November 19, 2020. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman file)
Two lost kids find their way home thanks to Salvador Ready Mix driver

The driver found the children wandering near the gravel pits in Cranbrook

Interior Health is reporting a potential COVID-19 exposure at St. Mary’s Catholic Independent School last week from Nov. 17-19.
Potential COVID-19 exposure reported at St. Mary’s Catholic Independent School

Interior Health is reporting potential COVID-19 exposures at St. Mary’s Catholic Independent… Continue reading

Planting whitebark pine seedlings. Photo courtesy of Randy Moody.
Kimberley’s Randy Moody on the challenges and triumphs of the endangered whitebark pine

Randy Moody, president of the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation of Canada (WPEFC)… Continue reading

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

Most Read