Reg Conn Centennial Park - 030301
In the heart of Clinton lies a serene spot where one can lay quietly absorbing the golden rays and listen to the peaceful waters of the small brook while contemplating the remarkable history of this unique village.
Clinton came to life during the excitement of the Gold Rush. Originally it was merely a roadhouse at 47 Mile on the Cariboo Wagon Road. As the Gold Rush grew so did Clinton, bringing many prospectors, adventurers, ranchers, entrepreneurs and the Royal Engineers. Hotels were erected, stores established, as was a post office. By 1873, a court house and government agent house was built. Now it houses the Village of Clinton offices. The town kept growing and the people kept coming. With more families came the need for schooling and by 1892 a brick schoolhouse was built and soon occupied. It currently houses the Clinton Museum and Archives.
While some passed through, some chose to make Clinton home. One can visit many of the original pioneers of the village while strolling through the Pioneer Cemetery established in 1861. Some headstones have stood the wrath of time, but many have not survived the sometimes inclement weather conditions.
In 1963 the town was established as the Village of Clinton and from 1963 to 1970 Reg Conn was the first Chairman and Mayor of Clinton. It was shortly thereafter that the Village decided they would create their own municipal park, the heart of their quaint village.
An application was made to the Ministry of Recreation and Conservation to lease nine lots formerly belonging to the School District and now owned by the province. Additionally, the Clinton Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks offered to transfer their lease of eight adjacent lots to the Village. This was accepted gratefully.
An additional parcel of land also lay adjacent to the proposed parklands. Cedric Dorrell was a well known Clinton resident. The Lloyd West family, in honour of Dorrell’s commitment, donated the land when they purchased Dorrell’s holdings in 1965, formally conveying the Dorrell property to the Village. Thus, yet another parcel of land was donated for the soon-to-be village park. In 1964 the Clinton Centennial Committee was created and they decided to make the development of the park their centennial project. By 1967 the comfort station was established in the park and two footbridges were built. They now had the basic structure of a park in place. In 2003 the Clinton and District Economic Development Society spearheaded the construction of a theatre and band shell, which is used for entertainment in the park in the summer months. In 2006, with the assistance of members of the Clinton Lions Club, new playground equipment was installed.
As the park was being created it had several monikers, the Dorrell Park in respect and honour of Cedric; Clinton Creek Park, although the Creek is called Cut-off Valley Creek; and Centennial Park, as it was the centennial project.
Regardless of the name, the volunteers after many years of planning and toil, had created what they had planned, a peaceful picturesque village park. But it really did need an official name, and in 1971 the Village of Clinton Council passed a motion to name the park. It would officially be called the Reg Conn Centennial Park for the first Mayor of the Village of Clinton who also contributed countless hours clearing land, falling trees and preparing the park.
So where do you go after your long stroll through the remarkable history of Clinton, the Gold Rush and its formal establishment as a village? You mosey under the great arch of Reg Conn Centennial Park, across the expanse to Cut-Off Creek. You layout your picnic under a golden sun and perhaps cool your feet in the babbling waters of the creek. You may even nod off in the warmth and glow of the afternoon and dream of the Gold Rush and the history of the quaint Village of Clinton, in the heart of Gold Country.