Logan Lake Pioneers - 050103
Up in copper country, nestled in the Highland Valley, is a small but mighty town not yet four decades old. Built by the copper mining industry and with the determination of Egil Lorntzsen and many others, Logan Lake is a village of new era pioneers. Dr. Lorntzsen discovered copper and started one of the world’s largest open pit copper mines. Logan Lake was built because of his perseverance and largesse.
Ranchers had been pre-empting and homesteading in the surrounding area since the turn of the twentieth century. Ranches were long established at Mamette Lake and Meadow Creek. However, there was no central industry or town to draw families to the area. Well, not until Lornex mine established itself as one of the largest open pit mines in the world.
Logan Lake was the chosen site to build the town. It is believed the lake got its name from a Savona Indian named Tslakan. He had a daughter whose name had been adapted to English as Anne Logan, thus the name Logan Lake.
The town took a year plus to structurally build and was open for occupancy on August 2nd, 1971. The first to arrive were Willis and Evelyn McBride. Willis was a mining engineer and arrived with his family from Asbestos, Ontario. On their heels were Glen and Johanna Scott, who had pioneered Elliot Lake in Ontario. Willis and Evelyn’s son, young Doug McBride, was the first student employee of the village, working under the supervision of Clifford Proznick. Cliff came to Logan Lake in 1970 during its construction, moved his family to town in June 1971 and remained to become the first village employee.
Bobby Cunliffe also arrived with his wife and family in August. Bobby, a mechanical engineer from Britain, was to be the maintenance supervisor for the Lornex mine. The following month he created a boys and girls club for the many youngsters now in Logan Lake.
Postmistress Rose Naismyth also arrived in August and Canada Post was first established in the basement of her home until October. Joe and Mary Moss arrived from Kamloops to open and run a Safety Mart grocery store. It was opened on September 5th and the Mosses not only carried food and the basics but also provided gardening and hardware supplies.
An RCMP detachment was established and Constable Larry Larsen and Corporal John Boh began their patrol of Logan Lake and the surrounding Highland Valley. The Hitchens, Brian a principal and Vallerie a teacher, would be opening the school with an enrolment of ninety-seven elementary pupils and twenty-two kindergarteners. A nurse, Marie King, arrived as did Dr. Shaw. Marie later went on to be mayor in 1978.
In 1973, the energy of Bill Maggs came to town. He became the public works manager, the fire chief, founded the country club and started a winter polar carnival. He was also instrumental in the building of the recreation centre.
And they kept on coming. By mid-November 1971 five hundred people were living, working and playing in Logan Lake. Within the next few months another one hundred homes would be completed.
The town continued to grow. By 1974 the population was nearly fifteen hundred people. Logan Lake became a desirable town to work, play and raise a family. Its appeal was spreading. At its peak in 1981, the population had grown to more than twenty-six hundred and currently remains steady around twenty-three hundred.
Logan Lake was a fresh town built by the hard work and perseverance of many people in the early seventies. It grew from sod to a village with all the amenities for residents who thrive on what the area has to offer. It may not have a museum or a long history, but what it does have is a concise history with lots of stories; stories of the people who were the first new era pioneers. The very people, who today some forty years later, enjoy sharing their tales and their town with visitors, the new era pioneers and people of Logan Lake are a gold mine of information on how to successfully build and grow a town in Gold Country.