Like-Minded People of Applegrove Road – Part II

LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE

A BRIEF HISTORY OF APPLEGROVE ROAD

By late Bill Laux

Aspinalls had a farm at the Fauquier end of Applegrove Road, the present De Boer property. The Spillers had come from Austria in 1913 and taken up land on Heart Creek, which they reached off the Applegrove trail, which Mr. Spiller must have widened to a wagon road to access his property from the Ferry landing.

The Mead-Eichenauer Property with Sauna and Pond in the Foreground
The Mead-Eichenauer Property with Sauna and Pond in the Foreground

Others, opening up the trail, took up land at each promising meadow or marshy location, which looked suitable for draining. It was, in those first years, crucial to have a hayfield while the heavily timbered lakefront land was being cleared and stumped. Gaustein took up the land along März Brook in 1920 (the present Netting property since 1966). Apple trees were planted and these early orchardists engaged in horse logging to make a living until their apples should come into production. The logs were horse-hauled to the lake shore, decked on the beach in the winter to await high water and the tug to tow them to Waldie’s mill at Robson. It seems certain that by the Twenties there was a wagon road as far as the Mosheimer Place and probably another kilometer past it to a house, which had been built on the clearing at the top of Eichenauer’s hill. The name of this settler is not known. Percy Schlag, who had an orchard in Fauquier, opened up a meadow on the south side of Heart Creek at the source of März Brook and drained it with a ditch to make a hay field. During the years when the lake shore lands had to be cleared and stumped for orchards, any mountain meadow or drainable swamp was a prize location to be preempted and   put into production for hay.

IMG_5272

From about 1913 Apple Packing Schools were held in the Valley to show the new orchardists how to get their fruit into commercial channels. Only perfect fruit was acceptable, no blemishes permitted. This left, especially in bad scab years, a great deal of fruit unharvested. These apples were used by many to fatten pigs for sale and most everyone made apple juice. With the addition of a bit of wine yeast, fermentation took place and hard cider was produced. August Scribe took the process farther and built a still. He located it under his pig shed to conceal the odour and took care to have a dry-hinged gate, which would squeak loudly, if anyone approached. He planted wormwood nearby to use as a flavoring, telling his customers he had made absinthe. It is said he shipped the product in cream cans to Nelson on the Minto with each can sealed with dairy stickers only to be removed by the milk inspector.

Mosheimer had his feet badly crushed in a logging accident and had to give up farming. He and his wife moved to Vernon where they opened a laundry. The property was bought by Mr. Kendricks of Needles, who leased it out for hay and pasturage. It came to be known as Kendricks Place (close to the present day Mead-Eichenauer Place). Gaustein, as well, left, though we do not know when.

All these years the slashed trail to Applegrove was still used as a route for Fauquier farmers to take their teams down to Taite Creek where from time to time horse logging jobs were available. Several wagon roads were built off Applegrove Road to reach the magnificent old-growth timber up the various creeks. One road ran up Heart Creek a short distance to reach a particularly fine stand of large cedars. Another extended Percy Schlag’s road from the south end of the Funk Meadow up and around the north end of Mineral Ridge to reach the timber on the North Fork of Taite Creek. In the early Sixties logging contractor Steiner built the Pin Road to harvest the Mineral Ridqe timber and the Heart and Pin Creek drainaqes. Applegrove became little more than a log dump.

Another group of like-minded people arrived in 1949. These were six pacifist American Quakers who had come to Canada to avoid the draft for the Korean War. These were the Orcutts, Kunzies and Norvells. They bought the Funk and Scribe Farms, the preemption meadow on Applegrove Road and began a simple style of subsistence farming, shipping cherries and apples in season. Steven Norvell, who was a physician, set up a practice in Edgewood.

In 1953 an exiled Polish nobleman, Count Andrew Potocki arrived with his wife and son in search of a good skiing terrain. He bought the part of the old Applegrove site south of Taite Creek and began subsistence farming. The Applegrove Trail must have been impassable at this time as he told the author that they had to walk their cow in from Fauquier down the beach, a task he said took them five days. The Potocki’s usual access was by boat from Edgewood where they kept a freezer in the back of Jack McLeod’s store to store perishable food.

The Highways Department was persuaded to clear the Applegrove Road at this time and rebuild the Taite Creek bridge on old Edmonton Avenue. It is remembered that by 1951 one could drive a car as far as Potocki’s. 1951 was also the year when the last of the original East Side settlers moved over to Edgewood. The elderly Jowett brothers left their Sherwood property and built a house on the west side north of Edgewood.

In 1958 parts of the old Sherwood properties were bought for summer homes by Lee Hell’s mother and stepfather and by May and Bill Gebelein in 1959. Access was, as it had been for the Jowetts, by boat from Edgewood.

Netting Property - Owl Meadow Nursery
Netting Property – Owl Meadow Nursery

By 1960 the Quaker group on the Funk Farm had gone their ways making only summer and fall visits to the property to harvest apples. Jimmi Mead, Eric Freedman, and Tony Netting, Americans from New York, who had met the Orcutts in Vancouver, came out to look for a site for a communitarian enterprise they wished to found. Mead and Freedman bought the Mosheimer place from the Needles storekeeper, Mrs. Kendricks. They continued to live for two years in Vancouver working to pay for the property.

Fauquier BC Local History Writing

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