BCHF News In the Shadow of Mt. Cheam: Local history made available digitally

In the Shadow of Mt. Cheam: Local history made available digitally

Submitted by Mike Yusko, BC Dairy Historical Society

Discovering local area history for areas such as Popkum (once spelled Popcum) is not easy. Most historical materials are held in museums and archives or as family treasures. In 1988, the Heritage Preservers of Rosedale and District published the book In The Shadow of Mt. Cheam – A History of Rosedale, Popkum and Camp River British Columbia. Copies are now difficult to find. 

Popkum has become a bedroom community of Chilliwack with a population of about 1800 residents. But Popcum was once a thriving community with sawmills, lime quarries, orchards, dairy farms, hotels, school, community hall, a steamboat “The Lady of Popcum” and more. This book includes sections on First Nations history and stories, Crown Land Grants, stories of the early settlers, farming practices, community organizations, schools, businesses such as mining and logging, family stories and accounts, Fraser River floods and much more. 

Read the story of how Mrs. Chapman chased the bear out of her yard while she kept the children in the cabin. Enjoy the poem “OUR HIKE UP CHEAM” written by Laura (Munro) Kennedy. Learn how Frank Merson used mules to transport cans of milk from Popcum dairy farms to the Sardis Milk Plant. The book has 484 pages of interesting historical writings and interesting historical photographs.  

I first read the book in 1988 when my friend and a descendant of area pioneers, Mr. Robin Lister, lent me his copy. I moved to Popkum in 2011. Two years ago, I was given a copy of the book by the Lister family.

Most of my Popkum neighbours have no knowledge of the rich history of the area. Some expressed an interest in learning. I have experience with digitization having completed many projects with the BC Dairy Historical Society. I asked our Popkum area regional director, Bill Dickey, if the digital book could be hosted on our local area Popkum webpage on the Fraser Valley Regional District website.

Bill supported the project and I started the project. First, I contacted as many of the descendants of the pioneer families that I could, including the Cheam First Nations. There are 16 pages of First Nations history in the book. I received support from all those that I contacted.   

I completed the project in August this year and now the digital book is hosted here: https://www.fvrd.ca/EN/main/about-the-fvrd/electoral-areas/electoral-area-d.html