Derailed by my free bookshelf

Someone put a faded booklet on my free bookshelf called “The Hope Slide Story” by Frank W. Anderson (Frontier Book No. 12). Looks like maybe the mid 60s though there is no date. The back of the booklet lists some great stuff in the series – Murder on the Plains! The Lost Lemon Mine! Regina’s Terrible Tornado! Reminds me of stuff I used to unearth in the basements of various libraries I worked in, in the 80s.

I settled in just now to eat dinner over this book. It starts out introducing its innocent victims or survivors, not sure which are which yet; they’re farmers, truckers, factory workers. I assume something dramatic is going to happen to these trucks. Are these Russian names? What’s up with that? Then I hit,

During the disturbances of 1953 in the Kootenays, Mary Kalmakoff had been one of the 103 Doukhobor children taken by the government and put in a special dormitory opened at New Denver. She was then in Grade 3. . . . On February 28th, 1958, 5 days after her 15th birthday, Mary left the New Denver internment camp and returned to her parents.”

I had to stop and look this up. What disturbances? Doukhobar?

So, Ukranian/Georgian/Russian Christian pacfist sect who believe in communal living and who emigrated in an enormous swoop to Saskatchewan where they formed special communal homesteads and, while non violent, were strangely into sectarian fighting via midnight arson. The Freedomites (Svobodniki or Sons of Freedom) also seemed to be into nude protest marches against the Community and Independent Doukhobors. Unclear who was bombing whom and why but a lot of it seemed to be protest against the government. They were still bombing railway bridges while naked in 1961…. wow. Well, I guess I’d bomb things naked too if they took my kids off to a prison camp and called it “Operation Snatch”. How horrible! But, they were originally marching naked to protest being given land that was too cold for crops (and other issues, like not wanting to sign a loyalty oath or register births and deaths, and I think also over not wanting to split their communities to register individually for land ownership.)

The Hope Slide Story certainly breezed right past this bit of history in its rush to bring together the cast of characters on the highway, “unaware that somehwere on the dark road ahead a yellow convertible, a hay truck and an oil tanker were rapidly moving towards a tragic rendezvous with fate.”

Very fried from a long day at work, I’m going to chill out with this amazing booklet and look everything up as I go.

Spoilers: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hope_Slide

UPDATE:

I’m back just a few pages later as there was another breezy mention of the Japanese internment camp prisoners “evacuated from the coastal cities” forced to build the very road the Hope Slide is about to slide down on top of. Why do Canadians have a reputation of being “nice” again?

Further update: The Japanese prisoners also were brought out to do some woodland firefighting.

SILENT HELL: Uh oh. the yellow convertible has run into a small snowslide about 15 feet high that went across the highway. The oil tanker guy, Stephanishin, is walking over there with his 6 volt lamp. I love this book! Then, a new chapter: SILENT HELL. Seismographs jump in distant laboratories! Explanation of the hillside and its 60 million cubic yards of dirt, rocks, snow, and trees, hanging above the heads of the innocent 4 people below!
They all go to warm up in the oil tanker. The hay truck guy pulls up and hangs out under the avalanche some more! The young guys try to go free the convertible. I think they are toast. I would not be messing with that baby avalanche! Its mama might come next!

OMG now a whole Greyhound bus. Another bus! Uh oh. They are going to go have a look at that yellow convertible. But Bernie, Mary, Dennis, and Thomas the hay bale truck driver were still alive at this point, in the oil tanker with the motor running for heat.

The landslide has now swooshed past and then splashed backwards lifting up the trucks and carrying them away.

An hour later everyone else shows up and starts to realize how big the slide was. Search and Rescue to the rescue! A helicopter arrives! A mountie dog named Prince! They built up the rescue a lot but only pulled out one dead body and never found the others. THE END.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.