Yes, the grove of trees is open for whatever staggers in off the road. The sign says so, and we’re supposed to read the signs, right? Caw, caw, caw.
As you can see the place is now self-serve and take-away only.
Welcome to Spence’s Bridge, one of the earliest apple-growing towns in British Columbia. Note the lack of apple trees but the healthy Chinese elm that has drifted in from a 1970s-era orchard (now gone to ruin too) up the river. They got the idea after working on our orchard in the Similkameen in the late 1960s, and my father got the idea after working on an orchard on the old syilx village site at s’oyo’os. Some things just spread. Note as well, a load of sawdust dumped by an overloaded chip truck from the ingrown and beetle-killed grasslands of the Cariboo and the black locust from the American South (a sure sign of early settlement across the west. Its wood made fenceposts that would last a century — longer than the cattle industry it was planted to serve, and when things got really bad you could eat its beans, or your cows could.) The road traffic goes over the mountains now, the ferry and the bridge are gone, the flume that waters the orchards is just a scratch in the hill, the train, which planted locusts, too, for shade around its watering stations, no longer waters and clanks past on both sides of the river hauling coal to China and China back to Toronto. The sportsmen (steelhead fishers), rarely come anymore and the Cook’s Ferry Band of the nlaka’pamux are very nicely settling in to take their village back, one house at a time. It is a beautiful story of resilience and rebirth. All up and down the Thompson, it is the same.
You can find similar scenes across the American Northwest, too. History is a memory now. Give it a hundred more years and almost none of this will be left. Well, except for the Chinese elms. That’s one invader we will never shake. Let’s prepare for that future now. Let’s make it strong.