Quartz `Boys' on summit
of Two Sister's Mountain near Wells. wpH714
of the main attractions for miners and their families to Wells besides
the obvious jobs in town, was the sports and recreation facilities
the Wells Townsite Company helped to build. Job prospects were much
greater in Wells in the 1930's than anywhere else in British Columbia.
Wells was a community with the unique mixture and spirit of mining
towns. Its people included English, Scottish, Irish, Scandinavian,
Chinese and Europeans, all lured to Wells for the chance to gain employment
during a very difficult time in British Columbia's history.
Races And Saunders Ave. wpH678
is and has always been surrounded by mountains, lakes and rivers,
making it a nature lover's paradise. Locals took advantage of this
and participated in just about every outdoor pastime there was! At
one time, Wells had tennis courts, a golf course, two racetracks,
a curling rink, a ski slope and ski jump on Cow Mountain.
hunting were popular pastimes
and the "Wells Rod and Reel Club" was quite active in the 1930s, 40s
and 50s. Locals would also hunt and fish to supplement their food
Ski jumper on Old Lowhee
Gulch Jump, Feb 13, 1937. wpH1025
tremendous snowfall in Wells contributed to many locals taking part
in the annual ski meet held in February, sponsored by the local ski
club. Many first-class performers from outside points traveled to
compete. This was a very popular event.
Wells Ski Hill.Competition
going on. wpH223
W Nordahl Kahldal and Henry Sodvet (two Norwegians) were the driving
forces behind the building and operating of ski hills. The two built
a jump nicknamed "Big Jump" due to the 175 feet of air one could attain
lifting off of it. It was so good that the Western Canada Ski Championships
were held in Wells the winter of 1936. There was an impressive downhill
and slalom hill and a small (75 foot) jump. World-class ski jumpers
competed here, and record Canadian jumps of over 60 m were set during
the 1930s. Wells hosted the Western Ski and Snowshoe Championships
in 1936 and the Provincial Ski Championships in 1942.
of the population of Wells owned skis. They were nothing like the
hi tech skis of today, but they did allow people to have a lot of
fun. For just $5.00 plus a dollar or two for a harness, Wellsians
could enjoy a day of skiing. No ski boots, the skis just strapped
onto the skier's regular winter boots and off they went11.
Midnight ski meetings were not uncommon, sometimes with the whole
community gathering to ski under the moonlight.
Playing Hockey in Wells.
hockey was another popular winter sport in Wells. Local teams were
sponsored by both mines and competed against each other as well as
nearby Wingdam, Williams Lake, Quesnel and Prince George. The long
distances to travel under winter conditions made it quite difficult
for the players, as well as being quite expensive, but a fairly regular
schedule was maintained. Two cups (one a challenge cup) representing
the hockey championship of the Cariboo provided a source of interest
which kept rivalry keen between the various teams.
Curling, Measuring Rocks
With A Broom. 1930's, Two Unidentified Men. wpH1032
was another popular winter sport. There were several different teams
composed of members from Island Mountain, Cariboo Gold Quartz, and
the Townsite. There were various club competitions for which numerous
cups and prizes were donated by the mines and merchants, together
with bonspiels with Quesnel and Prince George. The curling season
closed in the Spring with a large and popular banquet and dance at
which the prizes were presented.
was also played in the winter and the badminton club had originally used the local theatre, which was large enough for one court. Unfortunately
the theatre management put in a sloping floor and regular theatre
seats, so that during the next winter the badminton club was without
any accommodation until the new hall was completed in early 1938. The floor of the new hall was large enough to accommodate
three courts; hence it was possible to take care of a much larger
membership than before. Club competitions provided a source of interest
within the club itself, and interclub meets with Williams Lake, Quesnel
and Prince George providing a wider interest. Other
popular winter sports included snowshoeing, dog sledding and ice fishing.
Race In Wells, March,1940. Shown Is George Rivere's Dog Team.
summer sports included basketball which with the completion of the
Wells Community Hall, became a very popular sport due to the new and
spacious floor suitable for the game. Cariboo Gold Quartz, Island
Mountain and Barkerville fielded both ladies and men's teams, and
people showed a great deal of interest. A few games were played with
Quesnel. Trophies were donated for both ladies and mens competitions
and these, of course, increased the rivalry between the various teams.
Team - "Merchants". wpH1033
all the sports to draw the largest crowds during the summer months,
baseball was the most successful outdoor sport. There was an active
league composed of teams from Cariboo Gold Quartz, Island Mountain,
Wingdam, and Quesnel, and games were played with Prince George during
holiday celebrations. A small fee was charged for the locals to attend
the games and sometimes games would be washed out due to the considerable
amount of rain that usually falls in the Wells area.
local tennis club was active and maintained two clay courts, which
were originally constructed by the Cariboo Gold Quartz, and in about 1941
some enterprising businessmen thought that they could build a golf
course on the flats. They staked out nine holes, mowed nine greens
and hired some young boys as caddies. Some of the youngsters in town
had the job of spotting where the ball landed because it would have
been impossible to find in the sawgrass flats
otherwise. This golf course does not exist today12.
holding up their catch. wpH437
Wells Rifle club used the basement of the Wells Community Hall for
their meets. Apart from shooting for sport, many Wellsians would fish
and hunt to stock their pantries. Trout and Dolly Varden could be
caught within walking distance of Wells. Many of the locals would
also go gold panning in the numerous creeks throughout the area13.
that took place in Wells and in Barkerville were a two-day sports
celebration where various sports were sponsored by separate clubs.
This celebration included horse-racing, baseball, track and field
sports, etc., in which there were entries from Williams Lake, Quesnel,
Prince George and other areas, and was held by the local Board of Trade.
Another popular event was the Labor Day celebration in nearby Barkerville.
There were pack on back races, mucking contests, pie eating contests
plus many other competitions. Of course there was a gold panning contest.
Horse races were held and one of the highlights of the celebration
was a shooting contest.
Hockey Game on the Jack
of the features of the celebration was based on gold field history.
During the original gold rush, legend had it that the stagecoach from
Quesnel had been robbed while passing through Devil's Gulch, a few
miles west of Wells. This was re-enacted in fine style15.
The big day in Wells was the July first weekend. Wells had a well
developed fair grounds on the flats including a half mile race track,
a softball diamond plus other areas for such things as log sawing
and log chopping competitions. A nail driving competition was always
well attended and usually won By Ray Forbes who was a carpenter by
trade. Mrs. Allstrop's horse, Blackie, invariably won the main horse
race of the day16.
On A Mountain near Wells. wpH116
in the 1930's was a major centre for sports, community, the arts, and
entertainment. Many people who have since left Wells have commented
that their lives were never so full as they had been in Wells, in