Nowell's Notes

6 Aug 2020
The Ponderosa: A Wasa Story

The Ponderosa: A Wasa Story

Sometime in the spring of 1840, one Ponderosa pine seed, enveloped by a thin organic sail pod, floats on the wind carried far from its parent. Catching a gust, reaching a height high above the treetops, gravity eventually propels it to a resting place. The seed falls into the needles, leaves, soil and sand just above the foreshore on the west side of Wasa, a few hundred metres North of Hansen’s channel. Once known as Blind Snipe channel.

At germination, the seeds life-energy erupts sending shoots in both vertical directions. The young sprout manages to survive growing seven and a half centimeters (3 in.) tall in the first year while generating a sixty-one centimeter (24 in.) taproot below ground.

Year after year, the pine drives the central shaft deep into the sandy gravely soil. The root ball provides the foundation on which will tower, over 170 years in the future, a massive 11 tonne (25,000 lb.) Ponderosa pine, the top unseen high above where the wind breathes.

The Ponderosa embraces mother earth claiming new tree-itory for its journey to the father.

In a time before the Ktunaxa’s ancestors made their way into this part of the East Kootenay, the majestic and mighty Ponderosa occupied the territory carpeting the valley floor and mountainsides. Over 10,000 years, it plays a central part in the forest’s symphony.

The Ktunaxa call the Ponderosa pine, himu.

To English settlers, its Pinus ponderosa. Latin for heavy, weighty, significant. People call it by many names: bull pine, black-jack pine and western yellow pine. It also goes by nicknames like long-leafed pine, red pine and pondo.

Unafraid to strike its head on the ceiling of the sky, these towering forest sentinels provide homes and sustenance to many life forms, small and large. Seeds, cones, needles, sap, wood and bark supply a buffet to animals, birds, insects, larvae and fungi. Fallen comrades continue filtering the rain and nourishing the land.

With a stroke of mighty wings, the magnificent bald-eagle launches from Ponderosa spires gliding out over the lake suddenly plunging downward lance sharp diamond-hard talons slice through the glassy surface snatching a fresh catch, of Sushi.

The Ktunaxa cultivate many uses for the ponderosa. The inner bark provides medicinal ingredients and, during a short time in Spring, becomes a sweet treat. Seeds turn into snacks. Needles steeped for tea, the long green ones braided together then woven into small baskets or dolls eventually drying beige.

The massive trunks become dugout canoes. The pitch waterproofs moccasins and other items. Mixed with bear grease, the ointment soothes inflamed eyes and sores. In times of food emergencies, boiled young reddish-brown cones provide nourishment.

A Ktunaxa summer camp, Yakikats, was located at Wasa lake. Wasa means horsetail rush, a long slender green stem with a small brownish head that grows in standing water. As a place, the Ktunaxa call Wasa, ?aqnis. When the Chief and warriors venture East through the Rockies to the prairie grassland taking one of twenty-six known routes, the women and children lodge at Yakikats.

At the tender age of six-years (1846) and barely three centimeters (1 in.) in diameter, the Ponderosa and the vast coniferous forest watch the U.S. and British draw a line on a map.

The trees and Ktunaxa ignore it.

The Wasa pine continues unmolested day by day, year after year climbing an invisible ladder toward the vast cerulean sky ringed with stalagmites of granite pushed high by earthly forces.

For the next 17-years, it grows, absorbing the sun’s radiation, slurping nutrients from the soil and turning them into wood, sap, bark, needles, and cones. The continuous shedding of needles creates a spongy five-centimeter thick organic carpet that obscures the rocky understory. Eventual decay turns matter into black arid acidic soil.

In late Fall 1863, the pine, now eight centimeters in diameter, casually spots a group of miners pass near-by following a Ktunaxa trail south toward Galbraith’s Ferry, it would later be called Ft. Steele. While camped at the mouth of Wild Horse Creek (originally Stud Horse Creek), these prospectors pan for, and find, gold. Placer gold, yellow metal, the devil’s coin.

The next Spring, hundreds of miners push into the Wild Horse moving further up the creek to Fisherville, a bustling metropolis of 5,000 by the following year (1865). The lure of Jason’s fleece attracts miners, fortune seekers, merchants, settlers, grifters and ne’er-do-wells. All of the miner’s shacks, houses, stables, numerous restaurants, one brewery, six general stores, four saloons, and the provincial jail, built from Ponderosa pine.

The forest and Ktunaxa would never be the same.

Swede Nils Hanson arrives at Wasa in 1885 and starts a sawmill. Over the next 20 years, he turns an area south of the lake into a resort with the best hotel in the district, constructed with Ponderosa pine. In January 1901, Hanson starts work with a crew of 19 men to build the first bridge, a draw bridge at that, across the Kootenay River at Wasa. The sturdy ponderosa milled and used for the pilings, super-structure, and roadbed.

Weather-beaten, washed bare and smooth, sun-bleached almost white, one post from that bridge still remains. It takes the high mark of June for it to be lost below the muddy water stained by mountain freshet.

Higher, wider, year after year, yet barely visible to the human eye, the Wasa pine swells and stretches, bulking up for the marathon ahead.

When it celebrates 47-years and a thirty-centimeter diameter, it stands a silent vigil, witness to the Ktunaxa / ?aqam uprising of 1887.

?aqam Chief Isadore, passionately and articulately, challenges the Provincial government over the size of the proposed reserve land and the sale of Joseph’s Prairie, now called Cranbrook. Tensions grow, escalating close to war, after Kapula, a Ktunaxa warrior, is incarcerated in March 1887 at the Fisherville jail charged with the murder of prospectors William Kemp and Mathew Halton (in 1884).

Days later, Chief Isadore and twenty-five armed warriors ride into town. They brake open the gaol doors releasing their brother from the pine walled “palace of chains”. At the same time, Isadore orders two provincial officials, Constable Anderson and the Honourable Fred Alymer, to leave the district and never return. Frightened for their lives, they make haste.

These events push the needle of fear deep into the red panic zone. Alarmed officials, settlers and business owners petition the Federal Government. In June 1887, Prime Minister MacDonald orders the NWMP into the Kootenay to resolve land issues and protect settlers. Superintendent Sam Steele, Inspectors Wood and Huot, and 75 NCOs making up “D” Division arrive at Galbraith’s ferry August first. On the flat bench-land high above the ferry, the troops construct barracks, a blacksmith shop and stables with ponderosa logs and lumber floated downriver from Hanson’s Wasa mill.

This lumber would eventually be dismantled and transported west to St. Eugene Mission where it would be used to construct buildings for a residential school that opened in 1890.

In Fall 1887, Steele convenes Kapula’s trail. After hearing from witnesses, he determines there is a lack of evidence, proclaims the accused innocent and sets the warrior free. Steele called Isadore’s strong leadership and intelligence during the trial, impressive. Their mutual respect resolved land disputes and calmed tensions between settlers and the Ktunaxa.

The Wasa pine shrugs off the excitement continuing its genetic destiny.

In earlier years, the young sapling fights off mountain pine beetle and disease, like dwarf mistletoe, along with herbivores, and the ever-present threat of wildfire and loggers.

The yearly rise and fall of the Kootenay river and Wasa lake provides nourishment as the tree leaps toward the azure vault of heaven.

Roots travel deeper claiming their place in time and space. Subterranean tendrils snake around stones and large boulders left behind by retreating glaciers. Thick mature roots, coated in a thin layer of scaly brown-black bark, branch out laterally creating an underground 3-D web radiating through gravel and clay absorbing moisture. While the pine limits its demand for water, particularly during drought, a fully mature tree consumes over fifty-seven liters per hour lifting the life-giving fluid, hauling it skyward against Newton’s force.

The bark thickens changing colour and texture as it ages. From dark brown-black in its early years, the outer skin turns reddish-orange with deep fissures and big flakes by the time it hits fifty. In one-hundred-fifty years or so, the bark becomes smooth and gray-orange with small flakes. Its thickness reaches almost eight centimeters.

Gnarly branches dance skyward pruning themselves below the massive crown thick with bundles of long thin green needles, three to a bunch. Multiple triplets attached to the branch tip act like solar panels capturing the suns energy, converting it into a new organic form. With a mind to the future, the needle clusters succor maturing cones. Squirrels and chipmunks feast on the seeds, storing the excess.

By 1900, the sturdy pine’s base reaches 36 cm diameter. At the end of WW1, its 81 cm. It adds another 22 cm by the close of WW2, which ends its greatest growth spurt. From 1890 to 1945, the trunk base expands almost 3.5 times, from 30.5 cm to 104 cm. Over the next seventy years, it will add only a few centimeters to its diameter. Since 2000, thin narrow rings packed tightly together, spooning, curving through the wood.

In the 1960s, the Ponderosa tops out above the surrounding forest canopy easily surveying the lake and surrounds. With this view, it sees more people picnic at the lake, swim in the warm water, traverse its surface, and fish for bass, perch and sunfish.

The pine’s massive bole dwarfs any human standing next to it. Many people have their picture taken posing in front of the scurfy reddish-orange trunk, the lake and mountains in the background.

After one-hundred seventy-five years, the pine commands a height over 24 meters, a girth of 2.5 meters. One-hundred seventy-five years of recording climate variations, insect attacks and fire events, season after season, year after year.

In November 2015, the stalwart ponderosa takes a final look at the only place it called home. The heartwood frowns with sorrow. Sap ready to bleed.

For reasons of safety and fire prevention, and after a great amount of soul searching, the tree is removed. The bio-mass returned to the earth from which it grew.

The underside of the stump from the Ponderosa tree at Wasa, B.C., removed November 2015.

The Ponderosa trunk, unlocking the contents is a historical reminder of its incredible journey.


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21 Dec 2019
Dog Squad (DSQ K-9)

Dog Squad (DSQ K-9)

Every day across North America and around the world, Police K-9 handlers and dogs patrol the front lines in the battle against crime. The K-9 Unit not only tracks bad guys, but they locate missing children, guns, explosives, cadavers and a wide range of contraband. They search buildings, parks and the urban landscape to apprehend bad guys and save victims.

Dog Squad covers the exploits of a K-9 Unit led by Sgt. Greg Williams (dog King), second in command, Cpl. Steve Albion (dog Maxx) along with Unit Constable’s Blake Drummond (dog Taz), Thomas Cooper (dog Abe), Rob Hunter (dog Dutch), Danielle Marshall (dog Jake) and rookie Eddy Jaurez (dog Ace).

Gunned down in a cowardly ambush by a street gang reject, the deaths of Greg and King unleash the K-9 Unit’s rage, grief, pain, sorrow and shock.

Torn between justice and revenge; intimidated by the widow; pressured by the daughter; buffeted by internal police politics and personal histories; Steve and the K-9 Unit track the killer while struggling with the loss of a leader, mentor and friend.

The journey through a world they have never known leads to personal change, growth and healing.

Step by step the K-9 Unit tracks suspects, face tests of character, temptation and courage and search out leads only to find they are a dead-end. Finally, they pick up the scent leading to the killer.

Dog Squad, the ultimate showdown between bad guy and canine.

Dog Squad (DSQ K-9) available here,

The Kindle reader app is FREE and works for Apple, Windows and Android devices.

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24 Oct 2018
Area E Election – Close Finish

Area E Election – Close Finish

Travels on the Campaign Trail

by Nowell Berg

The local government elections in Area E are now complete.

Only 34% of eligible voters completed a ballot on voting day.

Table One shows the breakdown of the 496 votes cast in Area E from two advanced polls, mail-in and two voting locations on election day, Oct 20th.

Table One

   N. Berg          J. Walkley          J. Walter          Total

Advance 1                      42                     9                    13                64

Advance 2                      32                     7                    45                84

Wasa                               65                    37                   55               157

Meadowbrook               46                    32                  107             185

Mail-in                               2                      0                      4                  6

Total                             187                     85                 224              496

Percentage                  38%                  17%                45%

The incumbent, Jane Walter, won re-election for another four year term. Congratulations.

Fifty-five percent (55%) of votes cast were not for Walter. Her share of the vote dropped from 66% in 2011 to 45% this time.

The campaign began September 24th. During the following weeks, I knocked on over 320 doors and traveled over 560km to reach those doors.

I spent time in all regions of Area E – St. Mary Lake, Wycliffe, Meadowbrook, Ta Ta Creek, Skookumchuck Prairie, Premier Lake and Wasa – listening to residents.

I met a wide range of fascinating people raising families, enjoying retirement, working at various jobs along with running businesses, ranches and farms. Everyone spoke candidly about various concerns for Area E which they only want to see thrive, prosper and remain as beautiful as it is.

Over the next several months, I’ll be profiling many of these people and the unique business and career activities they have chosen to undertake here in Area E.

Democracy is an excellent way to govern, but its only as good as the voters who show up and cast a ballot.

The success and effectiveness of local government is only as strong as the input it receives from citizens. If that input is not respected nor accepted by local government, then they are not legitimate and become autocratic.

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4 Oct 2018
Election Forum

Election Forum

The Meadowbrook Community Association (MCA) held an all candidates forum held Oct 3 at the Elks Hall in Kimberley. Moderator-Jim Webster; Timer-Marie Kohlman

Almost 50 people participated in the forum that was live streamed on the MCA Facebook page.

Forum moderator Jim Webster sets the stage

Candidates presented opening remarks and then answered questions from the MCA Board and the audience. Questions covered topics such as highways, RDEK procedures, land use, water supply and residential fire protection.

Candidate Berg answers a question on RDEK proceedures

Here are the prepared remarks I made to the audience.

Hello ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for participating tonight.

I’m Nowell Berg. I’m a candidate for Area E Director.

The rural mountain lifestyle is one to behold and embrace. As you know, its much different than living in Cranbrook or Kimberley.

Waking up this morning, looking out at Tee Pee Mtn … all that fresh snow really took my breath away.

The near freezing temperatures didn’t help, but seasons change and we’re used to that.

Our little corner of the world is truly a special place to live and work, raise a family or grow a business.

The reason why I am a candidate in this election?

I want to give you a chance to vote, to have a choice in who represents you on the RDEK Board.

I’m qualified to be Director of Area E because I live here year round.

I participate in the community and fund raising events.

I understand what it means to live in a rural area.

It means we depend on each other. We roll up our sleeves and help those in need.

Wanda and I have a neighbour across the road who’s in poor health and uses wood heat This past spring, I noticed his wood pile getting low. We headed out … felled 4 trees, bucked them up and hauled them back to his place. He and I have been doing that a couple times per month … when he’s well enough to get into the bush.

Spending a few hours out there working with your hands, breaking a sweat, its a tonic in and of itself.

Remember two winters ago when we had so much snow, especially in Feb, 2 feet in a week. You know what it was like, we were buried, deep.

Instead of waiting who knows how long for a snowplow, I helped out several neighbours. One, a 92-year old widow who’s driveway was completely blocked. I went over with the snow blower and cleared it out so she could get to town for a medical appointment.

My campaign for Area E Director is about:


The success and effectiveness of local government can only be as strong as the input from you.

If elected, I will send you accurate and quality information about District plans and intentions for land use and zoning, new bylaws or changes to existing ones … along with new business applications and any intention to change business regulations.

This will happen before the Board makes any decision so that you have the chance to understand what may or may not happen. Then you can provide me with a response, positive or negative. I encourage both.

I will communicate directly with you to gather your input, your solutions and your ideas on how RDEK activities impact you, your family, your property, your business and the community.

There are no bad ideas or wrong solutions … except the ones that are never heard.

Area E is unique. It contains diverse rural communities each with there own issues and concerns that need to be heard and delivered to the District Board.

I am very excited about starting a different way of making local government work for you … by applying new ways of communication, understanding your position on local issues and Regional District plans … and making them heard.

I will be an effective representative and strong advocate for you.

This campaign is about communication.

Let me say it again, the success and effectiveness of local government can only be as strong as the input from you.

If you want a new way for local government to work … for your voice to be heard … then I need your vote.

On Oct 20th please mark an X beside my name.

I’m Nowell Berg.

I want to be your Area E Director.


After the forum, I got a chance to meet area residents.

Talking with a Meadowbrook resident about her concerns


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22 Sep 2018
RDEK Election Candidate – Area E Director

RDEK Election Candidate – Area E Director

Nowell Berg announces candidacy for Area E Director in the up-coming RDEK elections. “If you want effective representation, then you need to vote for me,” he said. “Regular meetings with residents and community groups will be held to gather comments, ideas and input. People will be heard. I will listen to what you have to say.”

A long-time Wasa resident, Nowell lives with his wife, Wanda, on family property owned since 1949. Nowell’s parents, Burt and Vivian, always said “Wasa is our home.” He has deep roots in Area E spending summers, school holidays and long-weekends at Wasa. He’s enjoyed the challenge of climbing TeePee Mountain along with snow skiing, water skiing, hiking, biking, swimming and fishing in the area.

With a strong educational background in government and politics, Nowell’s participation in the local community includes over 3 years as a Trustee on the Board of the Wasa Lake Land Improvement District (WLLID). He volunteers to write the feature article each month for the Tri-Village Buzz along with supporting local fundraising activities.

Nowell is a candidate because:

  • The Area E Director must represent all residents, even those with differing points of view, and work collaboratively toward fair compromise solutions
  • A Director must be accountable and transparent along with providing effective representation on the RDEK Board when they take a position that has significant opposition from Area E residents

Nowell will work with residents, community groups and businesses to secure RDEK, CBT, Provincial and Federal funding for local projects and programs.

Particular issues of interest: rural fire prevention and suppression, waste management and transfer station maintenance, educational opportunities for rural students, encouraging young families to remain in the area by supporting home-based businesses, effective RDEK Bylaw enforcement and enhanced RCMP patrols throughout the area.

His professional business experience includes sales, marketing and corporate communications for a variety of companies in the Canadian energy, marketing research and media sectors.

To learn more about the campaign, to donate or volunteer, please contact Nowell: 250 4223575;; Facebook @nowellberg

Area E Candidate – Nowell Berg

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9 Jun 2018
Jet Girrl and Mr. Bizzaro: Surviving Natural Disaster

Jet Girrl and Mr. Bizzaro: Surviving Natural Disaster

Read all about it!

The story of how Jet Girrl and Mr. Bizzaro survive the flood of 2013.

They fight Town corruption to find justice where greed attempts to prevail.

Check it out at this link:

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3 Nov 2017
Lost Souls

Lost Souls

Awakened from a lucid dream where his soul mate pushes her index finger into his heart, a 32 year-old emotionally wounded carpenter battles his sub-conscious, his brother, the parish priest and an obsessed psychiatrist with a dark secret to find and love the woman of his dreams.

The e-book is available at Amazon here, and Kobo here.


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22 Sep 2017
Kite Hydrofoil Whiz

Kite Hydrofoil Whiz

Richard Zurrin grew up in Thompson, Manitoba, never thinking he’d be soaring with the birds at Wasa Lake. He moved to Cranbrook in 1991 and currently works as a forestry consultant.

Five years ago, after his brothers took up kite boarding, Zurrin chose a kite hydrofoil board which has an extension on the bottom that allows for faster speeds and higher jumps.

His personal highest jump has been 38 feet.

The hydrofoil board has a built in sensor that records the distance off the waters surface. The hydrofoil reduces the effect of choppy and rough water conditions.

Now Zurrin “follows the wind [where he can] get on the water, ocean and lakes, and see it from a different perspective.”

Another reason to chase the wind, Zurrin gets to kite hydrofoil in “some beautiful places in the world” including Cuba, Mexico and Oregon.

One of the great things about kite hydrofoil riding is the “sense of freedom” the sport gives him, and the “good community” of riders he’s met from around the world.

Zurrin will continue to follow the wind around the world.

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13 Aug 2017
History’s Historian: A Lady for all times

History’s Historian: A Lady for all times

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11 May 2017
Kimberley City Bakery Wins Prestigious 2017 Jake the Baker Award

Kimberley City Bakery Wins Prestigious 2017 Jake the Baker Award

On April 24th, Bakers Journal, a publication of the Baking Association of Canada, named the winner of the magazine’s 2017 Jake the Baker contest. This years winner is Kimberley City Bakery. Owners Eric And Michelle Forbes were ecstatic about the recent win at the Vancouver Baking Congress.


Michelle and Eric Forbes show off the Jake the Baker plaque

Michelle and Eric Forbes show off the Jake the Baker plaque


For Eric Forbes the award is “like the Junos for us.” He added winning the award “gives us street cred.” All of the dedicated staff at the bakery are under 44 years old.


According to Brian Hartz, Interim Editor of Bakers Journal, the Jake the Baker award is based on how well a bakery does in four categories: 1 – product innovation, 2 – marketing mastery, 3 – community involvement, and 4 – innovations in running the bakery.


Hartz said, “We got so many great entry’s from across Canada.” A panel of three judges reviewed all sixteen (16) contest entrants and their contributions to each of the categories.


While contestant bakeries did well across the board in all categories which made it “extremely difficult to chose” a winner, Hartz said, “Kimberley City definitely rose to the top, all three [judges] were really impressed with them.”


We were really impressed with the way they came up with the Medieval Festival. The way they rallied the whole town, creating a new event for the town. We were really blown away by the marketing of that and how innovative it was.”


As far as the nuts and bolts of running a bakery, they do everything from pastries, breads to wedding cakes and savory meat pies. They’ve gone to great lengths to make their products without additives and preservatives,” said Hartz.


Eric with winning plaque inside the Kimberley City Bakery

Eric with winning plaque inside the Kimberley City Bakery


Forbes purchased a special leavening machine from Italy. Its one of three in North America. The machine allows them to create products without preservatives.


Hartz, “Of the ones who entered the contest they were a cut above. They had a great story to tell.”


Check out all the great photos on their Face Book page. Then travel to Kimberley BC to taste what all the fuss is about.


Custom cake made in their honour provided by Pikanik Bakery in nearby Surrey, B.C. – last year’s winner of the Jake the Baker contest

Custom cake made in their honour provided by Pikanik Bakery, Surrey, B.C. – last year’s winner of the Jake the Baker contest


Kimberley City Bakery – the best bakery in Canada for 2017.

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